Between Life and Death. Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust

This is a panel exhibition devoted to stories of the help extended to Jews in selected European countries during the Holocaust. It was created by European Network Remembrance and Solidarity in cooperation with POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and Berlin’s Silent Heroes Memorial Centre. It comprises over twenty individual stories of help from twelve countries.

Over twenty stories of rescue from twelve countries

During the Holocaust, six million Jews perished in German-occupied Europe. The civilian population in these occupied countries – witnesses to German persecution and crimes – faced the challenge of how to respond to the tragedy of the Jews. Attitudes towards the Holocaust varied. Passiveness prevailed. Some were even complicit in the crimes committed. Only a few decided to help persecuted Jews.

The English-language exhibition, Between Life and Death. Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust”, presents the stories of the rescuers and of those who received help – twenty four individual stories of help from twelve countries – CroatiaDenmark, FranceGermany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary. The exhibition describes the experiences, efforts and motivations of the rescuers and the rescued, and focuses on the acts of courage and the will to survive. The multi-dimensional relationships and emotional bonds between the rescuers and the rescued are also stressed. The lives of the exhibition’s protagonists are depicted in a broader historical context, with explanations of the conditions within which the inhabitants of these occupied countries functioned.

Stories of help in occupied Poland

In the section of the exhibition devoted to stories of Jews being helped in occupied Poland is the story of the rescue of Elżbieta Ficowska who was smuggled as a baby out of the Warsaw ghetto to the “Aryan side” in a wooden box hidden amongst bricks. The girl was then looked after by Stanisława Bussold, an associate of Irena Sendler

Also shown is the dramatic fate of Jan and Aleksandra Gawrych, together with their children, in the Mazowiecki village of  Wólka Czarnińska, who were hiding Jews in their forester’s lodge. As a result of being denounced by neighbours, the Gawrych home was burned down. Jan Gawrych and one of those hidden, Tirca Zylberberg, were murdered. Years later, the Gawrych family were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Displays of the Exhibition

“Between Life and Death” exhibition was first showed at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations in 2018. Below you can read about the 2018 and 2019 official openings of the exhibitionorganised by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.

Other Exhibitions about the Righteous

The exhibition “Between Life and Death” is one of two travelling exhibitions which were created using the resources of our Polish Righteous website. The exhibition “They Risked Their Lives. Poles who Saved Jews During the Holocaust”, created by POLIN Museum in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited over 100 places around the world to date, and boasts versions in ten languages.

We also encourage you to view our virtual exhibitions which have awarded an Honourable Mention at the Sybilla Museum Even of the Year organized by the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, as well as our newest online exhibition dedicated to Irena Sendler, created together with Google Arts & Culture Insitute on the occasion of 110th anniversary of Irena Sendler's birthday.

About the exhibition

The exhibition Between Life and Death. Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust was prepared by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity together with POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Silent Heroes Memorial Center in Berlin

Authors: Dr. Martyna Grądzka-Rejak (ENRS), Klara Jackl (POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews) in cooperation with Marta Ansilewska-Lehnstaedt (Silent Heroes Memorial Centre)
Academic consultants: Dr. Aleksandra Namysło, Prof. Jan Rydel (ENRS), Dr Piotr Trojański (ENRS), Prof. Johannes Tuchel (Silent Heroes Memorial Centre)
Project coordinator: Agnieszka Mazur-Olczak
Design: sowa-szenk
Warsaw 2018

Contact regarding displays and loans of the exhibition: ENRS.

The organisers: 

European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Silent Heroes Memorial Center in Berlin


Chambon-sur-Lignon Lieu de Mémoire, Mémorial de la Shoah, Dansk Jødisk Museum, Museum „Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine”, Castrum Peregrini, Museum of the Second Wolrd War in Gdańsk, NIOD Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Slovak Institute of National Remembrance


Federal Government Comissioner for Culture and the Media (Germany), Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, Ministry of Human Capacities (Hungary), Ministry of Culture of Slovak Republic, Ministry of Culture and National Identity (Romania)

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