Rescued Images: Memories of a Childhood in Hiding

Overview

Ruth Jacobsen spent her first childhood in Germany. It ended one night when she was six years old and hiding in terror as she watched people being thrown from windows. It was Kristallnacht, the Night of Breaking Glass.

Her family fled and found haven in the idyllic Dutch village of Oud Zuylen. There Ruth became a child again.

When she was eight, the Germans invaded Holland. When she was nine, her grandmother was put on a train and never seen ...

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Overview

Ruth Jacobsen spent her first childhood in Germany. It ended one night when she was six years old and hiding in terror as she watched people being thrown from windows. It was Kristallnacht, the Night of Breaking Glass.

Her family fled and found haven in the idyllic Dutch village of Oud Zuylen. There Ruth became a child again.

When she was eight, the Germans invaded Holland. When she was nine, her grandmother was put on a train and never seen again. Soon she was wearing a Jewish star on her coat. When she was 10, she was separated from her parents. Frightened and alone, she went from house to house, hiding from the Nazis in the homes of strangers. Ruth Jacobsen's childhood was over forever. For the rest of her life she tried to forget her loss.

One day, forty years after the war, she opened an album of family photographs that had lain in a box at the bottom of a closet, untouched.

"My fear had always been that I would break down or become hysterical," she writes. Instead, she transformed the images into art, creating a series of vivid collages that pieced together her shattered childhood. As she worked, long suppressed memories came to the surface. She wrote them down.

The result is a unique document of a life and a time. Rescued Images combines Ruth's collages and her moving memoir of the wrenching events of a half century ago. Young Ruth Jacobsen is brought back to life on these pages: frightened and bewildered, buffeted by forces she cannot understand or control, bending but never breaking.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreword Magazine
Book of the Year, Silver Medal, Young Adult Nonfiction
National Council for the Social Studies and The Ch
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies
Parents' Choice Foundation
Parents' Choice Gold Medal
Book Report - Susan D. Yutzey
Jacobsen's memoir of the Holocaust represents a unique perspective — one that should be included on school library shelves.
Booklist - Randy Meyer
An unusual blend of memoir and image that reveals the horror of war and the transformative power of art.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - Kate McDowell
Stands out for its moving marriage of art and text and as a chilling reminder that the effects of the Nazi regime extend far beyond the barbed-wire fences of concentration camps and gnaw at the lives of so-called survivors.
Canadian Literature - Manuela Costantino
Succeeds in bringing past experiences back to life... Jacobsen uses autobiography to voice experiences silenced by history, to speak back to oppressive structures, and to claims new positions of power.
National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies
Kate McDowell
Stands out for its moving marriage of art and text and as a chilling reminder.
Rosemary Black
Versatile recipes, as well as a wealth of helpful tips...the eclectic collection of recipes features a number of ethnic dishes.
Book Report
Jacobsen's memoir of the Holocaust represents a unique perspective -- one that should be included on school library shelves.
Publishers Weekly
Jacobsen, a Jewish artist, was six or seven years old when her parents fled with her from Germany to Holland in 1939, taking only the clothes on their backs. They survived the war in hiding, but to minimize the risks, Ruth was parted from her parents and sheltered by a long succession of people. Both parents would later commit suicide after the war. Astonishingly, neighbors had saved the family albums, but 40 years passed before Jacobsen, who had emigrated to the U.S. and had been producing collages and "constructions," could bear to look at them. When she finally did look, she writes, "The photographs evoked feelings I could only express in collage form. I needed to move the photographs out of the albums and into my life." The collages she made with the photos (and with often unsettling painted compositions), appear here in color, along with her episodic and sometimes elliptical recollections. Jacobsen writes with intelligence and unusual frankness. However, the author's voice is invariably that of her adult self, and she appears to take for granted that readers will understand not only the historical context but the psychological forces that affect her memory (for example, after a visit from her hiding place to her parents', "I felt my only option was to hate my parents. That way I wouldn't have to think about their helplessness or worry about them"). Accordingly, this poignant volume may be better directed toward adults than young people. Ages 12-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jacobsen, a Jewish artist, was six or seven years old when her parents fled with her from Germany to Holland in 1939, taking only the clothes on their backs. They survived the war in hiding, but to minimize the risks, Ruth was parted from her parents and sheltered by a long succession of people. Both parents would later commit suicide after the war. Astonishingly, neighbors had saved the family albums, but 40 years passed before Jacobsen, who had emigrated to the U.S. and had been producing collages and "constructions," could bear to look at them. When she finally did look, she writes, "The photographs evoked feelings I could only express in collage form. I needed to move the photographs out of the albums and into my life." The collages she made with the photos (and with often unsettling painted compositions), appear here in color, along with her episodic and sometimes elliptical recollections. Jacobsen writes with intelligence and unusual frankness. However, the author's voice is invariably that of her adult self, and she appears to take for granted that readers will understand not only the historical context but the psychological forces that affect her memory (for example, after a visit from her hiding place to her parents', "I felt my only option was to hate my parents. That way I wouldn't have to think about their helplessness or worry about them"). Accordingly, this poignant volume may be better directed toward adults than young people. Ages 12-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
The author's terrifying childhood was spent hiding from the Nazis in Germany and Holland, shifted from family to family as the danger of being discovered escalated. Her salvation was constantly learning a new name and a new history, while forgetting the previous ones. This habit became so ingrained that it took her forty years and opening a box of family photographs that had lain untouched all that time, to begin reconstructing her past. And her medium was the photographs themselves, torn and cut and arranged into collages to express the emotions and memories she could recall no other way. This is a fascinating story, exquisitely told and accompanied by haunting artwork that singes the soul. Why, one must ask of such a hunted and haunted childhood? There are no answers, but there is solace in the emerging of this book from those horrors. 2001, Mikaya, $19.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Judy Chernak
VOYA
During the Nazi occupation of Europe, Jewish parents had to make a choice between keeping their families together under the threat of being discovered and separating, whether temporarily or permanently, to spare their children's lives. Those children who were fortunate enough to be spirited away from the chaos, either through the generosity of relatives or the goodness of gentile friends and associates, lived to share their recollections of the evils and their hopes during hiding. What makes this survivor's collection of vignettes unique are the collages and artwork by professional artist Jacobsen that are intermingled with the text. Written simply, the book brings the reader into the insecure world of the author as a ten-year-old girl: "There weren't any shadows or faint outlines of the attic room. I could only sense the rafters overhead and an enormous space surrounding me. I was in a large dark hole." As readers follow her moves from home to home with no end to the war in sight, they sense a girl torn between the love for her hidden parents and the affinity she feels for her various caretakers. Best suited for younger teen readers, each vignette focuses on a particular aspect of the girl's experience—"Flight," "The Yellow Star," "Harm," "Liberation." Jacobsen's storytelling is in fine company with Halina Nelken's memoir And Yet, I Am Here! (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999/VOYA December 1999) and the classic, The Diary of Anne Frank. This title would be shelved best in the young adult section under Holocaust Studies. Illus. Photos. Maps. Appendix. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in thesubject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Mikaya/Firefly, 96p, $9.95. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Beth Gilbert SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Hidden in Holland during the Holocaust, the author explains that she came to write this memoir after years of suppressing memories of her experiences, including the suicides of her parents after the war. Opening family photograph albums that she had kept packed in a box for 40 years released feelings that she was impelled to express through the art that accompanies this narrative: color collages mixing streaks of paint with photographic fragments and memorabilia. They are the most emotionally engaging aspect of the book, combining frightening wartime images with pictures of the author as a child, her family, and her dolls. In contrast, the writing style is deliberate and unemotional, distancing Jacobsen from overwhelmingly sad memories, perhaps, but also distancing readers from an affective understanding of what she experienced and the price she paid for survival. Among the memoirs of child survivors of the Holocaust that have preceded this one, Anita Lobel's No Pretty Pictures (Greenwillow, 1998) is more successful in re-creating a terrified child's resentment toward her parents for their inability to protect her. Among recent novels, Ida Vos's The Key Is Lost (Morrow, 2000) portrays the loss of childhood and the protective measures that hidden children were forced to adopt with greater poignancy. The art that Jacobsen's memories inspired is the main object of interest in this book.-Linda R. Silver, Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931414005
  • Publisher: Mikaya Press
  • Publication date: 10/6/2001
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Jacobsen emigrated to the United States in 1953. She began creating collages and constructions in the mid sixties and for the last three decades, she has exhibited them in solo and group shows. Her work is represented in 30 private collections in the United States, Canada and Europe. She works from her home in Southhampton, New York.

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Preface

Introduction

My mother told me this. When I was four years old, I was standing at the top of the steps of our house in Frankenberg, Germany. A bunch of young children were yelling at me: "Juden Stinker, Juden Stinker." My mother ran outside when she heard them. She saw me standing there, facing them and yelling back "Juden Stinker," having no idea what it meant.

When I was ten, I became a "hidden child." For two and a half years, I was hidden from the Nazis in the homes of strangers who had the courage to take me in. After the war, when I heard of the horrors people experienced in concentration camps, I felt that in comparison I had it easy. It took me many years to realize that my own life had been shattered.

Even after I emigrated to the United States I did not talk with my relatives there about the war years, and they never asked.

When my family fled Germany in 1939 we had to leave everything behind. Our landlady in Düsseldorf sent our trunks to us in Holland. We only received one of them, but in it were, among other things, our family photo albums.

In 1942, when we were forced into hiding, we again had to leave everything behind. Cees van Bart, a Dutch neighbor, entered our house after the Germans had sealed it off to rescue things that were of value to us. He took his life in his hands. If he had been caught, he and his family could have been shot or sent to a concentration camp. He found the photo albums and hid them in his house. When the war ended he presented them to us.

When I emigrated to America I took the albums with me. They remained packed in a box for about forty years. I knew they were there, but could not look at them.

For years, as an artist, I created books of collages, mixing photographs and paint. Many of the images I used in my first books were of people in war and turmoil. Their agony moved me.

One day I found the courage to pick up the albums. My fear had always been that I would break down or become hysterical at seeing my parents' images again. Finally I was able to put aside the fears I had felt for so many years and look at them.

The photographs evoked feelings I could only express in collage form. I needed to move the photographs out of the albums and into my life. I used the original photographs, as well as letters, other images, and acrylic paints to create collages. In the process of working with them, more and more of the past came back. I began to remember ...

Read More Show Less

Introduction


My mother told me this. When I was four years old, I was standing at the top of the steps of our house in Frankenberg, Germany. A bunch of young children were yelling at me: "Juden Stinker, Juden Stinker." My mother ran outside when she heard them. She saw me standing there, facing them and yelling back "Juden Stinker," having no idea what it meant.

When I was ten, I became a "hidden child." For two and a half years, I was hidden from the Nazis in the homes of strangers who had the courage to take me in. After the war, when I heard of the horrors people experienced in concentration camps, I felt that in comparison I had it easy. It took me many years to realize that my own life had been shattered.

Even after I emigrated to the United States I did not talk with my relatives there about the war years, and they never asked.

When my family fled Germany in 1939 we had to leave everything behind. Our landlady in Düsseldorf sent our trunks to us in Holland. We only received one of them, but in it were, among other things, our family photo albums.

In 1942, when we were forced into hiding, we again had to leave everything behind. Cees van Bart, a Dutch neighbor, entered our house after the Germans had sealed it off to rescue things that were of value to us. He took his life in his hands. If he had been caught, he and his family could have been shot or sent to a concentration camp. He found the photo albums and hid them in his house. When the war ended he presented them to us.

When I emigrated to America I took the albums with me. They remained packed in a box for about forty years. I knew they were there, but could not lookat them.

For years, as an artist, I created books of collages, mixing photographs and paint. Many of the images I used in my first books were of people in war and turmoil. Their agony moved me.

One day I found the courage to pick up the albums. My fear had always been that I would break down or become hysterical at seeing my parents' images again. Finally I was able to put aside the fears I had felt for so many years and look at them.

The photographs evoked feelings I could only express in collage form. I needed to move the photographs out of the albums and into my life. I used the original photographs, as well as letters, other images, and acrylic paints to create collages. In the process of working with them, more and more of the past came back. I began to remember ...

Read More Show Less

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