It all began with 13 driver’s licenses, 13 people, 13 lives, and a vision to tell a story or, in this case, to tell 13 stories.
In February 2017, an envelope with 13 driver’s licenses that were confiscated from Jewish citizens of Germany in 1938, were found in a government office in the Bavarian town of Lichtenfels. The licenses were given to the headmaster of the local high school and what followed changed lives forever – merging people that would never have met, merging the past and the present, and forging a future in which we can hope to ensure the stories of the Holocaust continue to be told.
Students at this high school researched the names on the licenses to find out the paths these 13 lives took after they were abruptly interrupted by the rise of the Nazi regime in their idyllic town. As the students learned more, they became connected to the people, entrenched in their lives and what became of them. Some were fortunate and were able to leave Germany, and others, of course, perished in the Holocaust.
Three of the licenses belonged to relatives of Livingston resident Inge Stanton.
I am always looking for new and compelling ways to teach about the Holocaust, so I was intrigued and thrilled to hear about this project. It’s the personal stories of the Holocaust that get into the fabric of students’ learning experiences. I’ve witnessed this time and again as survivors in our Holocaust Council’s Survivor Speaks Program visit schools in the Greater MetroWest area to tell their stories. With each visit, hundreds of young children are now the bearers of these stories to continue to tell in the future. We know it makes an impact, but we also know that time is marching forward, and bringing survivors to schools is getting more and more difficult.
That’s why I’m excited to be able to bring this intriguing exhibit to Greater MetroWest. I hope you will join us on July 18 at the Alex Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany to hear from Inge and members of her family, as well as from several of the German students that researched the project – truly a Holocaust lesson that will never be forgotten! The exhibit will be on display from July 15–31.
The exhibit 13 Driver’s Licenses is truly engaging. Not only does it focus on the story of the 13 Jewish individuals, but it also highlights these incredible German students, what they learned from the stories they uncovered, and how they have taken these lessons to heart. They will forever be connected to the families that survived.
The number 13 is symbolic to the Jewish people. Thirteen, of course, is the age at which Jewish children become adults. I find great meaning in the fact that 13 licenses were found and researched. There were 1.5 million children that were murdered in the Holocaust, 1.5 million that did not reach the age of Jewish adulthood. And yet, somehow, decades later, these 13 licenses were discovered and helped forge bonds.
To register for the event on July 18, click here.