Even today, no one knows
how many Jewish children were hidden during the war. The one most
people know is Anne Frank. But there were many others, perhaps as
many as 100,000, who lived their own nightmares.
The survival of these
hidden children depended mostly on their parents' actions. Parents
needed the means, the will, the determination and the courage to
move the family into the forbidden, Christian world. To increase
the chances of their children's survival, they often placed them
in Christian homes and institutions, thus separating these "lucky"
youngsters from everything they held dear -- their families, friends,
traditions and communities.
To support their new
identities, these hidden children had to learn new names, dates
and places. And to blend in, they were taught to practice Christianity.
Any inconsistency could arouse suspicion; one slip could mean disaster.
From an early age, hidden
children were expected to contribute to their own safety by leaving
their past behind and remaining silent. For many, giving up their
true identity created an emotional void which lasted a lifetime.
Many of the youngest
hidden children never knew they were Jewish. Others learned this
secret many years later. Even today, many Christians are only now
learning of their Jewish birth and that their "real" families
perished in the Holocaust.