Ann Shore, 13 April 1929, Zabno, Poland – 25 June 2023, New York

Photo:  Ann Shore, Founder and President, Hidden Child Foundation

600 words / 3 minute read

In 1991, an ad ran in New York newspapers for an upcoming event for “Hidden Children”.  In the years I was growing up, those considered “Holocaust survivors” were the ones who had survived Auschwitz.  But then the view expanded to include those who had been in ghettos, in other camps, in slave labour, had escaped to nearby forests, or had been hidden by friendly – or sometimes not so friendly – neighbours and strangers.  But what of the children, those who had been given away for safety, tiny children, even babies, those thrown into adulthood when the adults couldn’t protect them?  Who were they?  What was their story and was it important?  At the 1991 event in New York, 6,000 people thought their stories were important.  And thus was born the Hidden Child Foundation.

The “Hidden Children” collected stories of those who in some cases had limited recollections of their pre-war lives and families, and in some cases after the war were torn away from families they had grown to know and depend on.  Some had survived on the run with members of their families; all had to assume adult non-Jewish roles.  They had been in hiding, some physically, all of them mentally.

One of these Hidden Children was a little girl in Vienna when Nazi Germany took over Austria.  Ingrid Kisliuk fled with her family to Belgium where she hid in plain sight but was always fearful they would be exposed as being Jewish.  After the war she tried to register for school.  In her memoir Unveiled Shadows, she writes:  “The registrar inquired as to why I had not attended school all this time.. . . I was confronted with admitting a reality that I had constantly sought to evade and forget.”  What does that do to a child’s identity and sense of self when their families and the adult world cannot protect them, when they must become someone else in order to survive?

The first piece of Martin’s writing he sent me was a talk he had given to a Hidden Child gathering in Jerusalem in 1993, invited by its president Ann Shore.  I understood how closely Martin must have identified with these “children” as they were his generation who, born in Europe, even as children had been hunted and murdered.  Martin had been evacuated to Canada as a child alone, and fostered with a family in Toronto.  Though he was safe, displaced by the war and not hunted down, still he understood the helplessness of a child whose family cannot protect him.

In 2001 Martin was researching his book The Righteous and we found ourselves in New York at the office of the Hidden Child Foundation/ADL.  (The Anti-Defamation League at that time was headed by Abraham Foxman, who had himself been a hidden child.)  We met Ann Shore, the President, a stately beautiful woman who had, as a twelve-year-old, scavenged for food for her mother and sister who were hiding in a farm loft.  Ann and Rachelle Goldstein, Ann’s Co-Director, opened their archives for Martin and he was able to uncover stories of those who had helped Jewish children to survive.  Their stories and those who had helped them found their way into his book.

Though they were the last to be recognised by the survivor community, the “children” are now the last to inspire future generations with the power of their memory.  I was saddened to read in the Hidden Child newsletter that Ann had died in June.  She was 94, the mother of three children, an artist who found expression in her paintings, a founder and a “vital force” in the Hidden Child Foundation.

May Ann Shore’s memory be for a blessing and her life be an inspiration to all of us.

Read:  The Righteous

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