Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tell No One Who You Are: The hidden childhood of Regine Miller

Tell No One Who You Are: The hidden childhood of Regine Miller is the story of a young Jewish girl from Belgium who survived the Holocaust pretending to be someone she was not, or more importantly pretending not to be what she was. As a very young girl, Regine went with her father to political meetings in Brussels called Solidarite. When Jews in Belgium were required to wear the yellow star, Regine's father sewed a red star to the back of her star and believed that when the war was over, they would freely show their resistance to hate by wearing the red star. The hope that she and her father would be reunited to wear these red stars kept Regine going.

At the age of 10, Regine's father was arrested, her brother was called up, her mother was dying from cancer. She went to live with her grandmother, who finally sent her away alone, to hide as an Aryan child. A friend of her father's, Fela, helped make the arrangements. Regine lived with four different families - none of whom realized she was Jewish. Three of the four families pocketed the money, or coupons, they received for her care and provided only the very basic shelter and food. The last family lived on a farm and considered young Regine the daughter they never had.
As the war ended, Regine left the last family to try to find her father and to discover what really happened to her mother and brother. As she met other survivors, Regine did not tell her fantastic journey through the Holocaust. The author suggests a reason for her silence:

Regine did not realize that she was behaving like most of the Jews in Europe who had survived the war. They did not talk about their experiences and they did not ask questions. Whether they had passed through the horror of the death camps or the terror of being caught while hiding, to talk about it was to relive it or cause others to relive it, and release emotions too intense to be dealt with. (p. 161)

In a number of memoirs which I have read, this silence is mentioned as a means of self-protection. I spoke personally with one elderly survivor who had never told her own story, not even to her husband and family. Deep memories which when shared will hopefully remind us of our own duty to remember.

Although it seems that there has not been a Hidden Children Gathering since 2003, the web page Hidden Child Foundation/Anti-Defamation League provides some interesting links and information. Included are three short but compelling accounts of other children who were hidden during the Holocaust:

There is also a teachers guide to be used with these stories and others which might be included.

TITLE: Tell No One Who You Are: The hidden childhood of Regine Miller
AUTHOR: Walter Buchignani
PAGES: 185
TYPE: Biography, Holocaust literature
RECOMMEND: This book is fascinating as it shows the good and the bad in people who had a choice to help children. While many people did assist Jewish children, many took money to help children and withheld food and necessities. The book also contains a small glossary and some factual information on the hiding of children during the Holocaust.


Shaynie said...

Wow, I will definitely check this book out!!

Kotchka McD said...

I am blessed to know Regine Miller.
One Christmas I purchased a copy for each of my neices and nephews and asked Regine if she would sign them.
One of my neices opened her gift and looked at it with deep appreciation, she was one of the older girls.
Thrilled..she came to me and said with excitement
"You know Regine Miller?"
That was a beautiful day!
Thank you Regine :) xoxoxo
Love you!
Catherine :)