Kid’s Haven: Refuge from the Holocaust (2010, The Netherlands)

As a member of the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched the following movie as part of this volunteer effort.

Kid’s Haven: Refuge from the Holocaust is a 45 minutes long documentary, directed by Roel Oostra, about university students in The Netherlands mainly Trutije van Lier, who saved the lives of 150+ of Jewish babies and toddlers by organizing transit houses, safe havens starting in 1940. The film has lots of photographs, some archival footage and built around interviews with the heroes, survivors, and historians. The narrator and about half of the people interviewed were speaking English, but the rest was in Dutch with English subtitles.

After watching probably dozens of Holocaust documentaries I still think it is very important to make sure that those who saved lives would be honored. This documentary does a great job of it and I learned, again, about great and brave people who did just that. What I particularly enjoyed in this movie, compared to others, was the relatively positive tone. This was accomplished with the help of three details. It helped, of course, that they actually manged to save lots of lives and some of those kids are now grateful, mature adults who were willing to talk about their memories. Second, seeing episodes of their and their descendants’ lives now, 65 years later showed that it was worth it: these people went on living a full life. Third, intercutting scenes from the lives of young people today, with the photographs of the heroes of the movie, when they were young created a sense of continuity as the youth of today were studying at the same institutions.

The text on the cover of the DVD reads:

“KID’S HAVEN, Refuge from the Holocaust” is a television documentary on the organized resistance of couragous young students from Utrecht and Amsterdam, during the second World War.

Risking their own lives, they saved hundreds of Jewish infants from certain death. They were angered, the outraged by what they saw around them. This was simply not going to happen.

The film focuses on the determined effort of students from the Utrecht Corps and UVSV to sace as many Jewish children as possible from the Holocaust, and in particular the work of young Truitje van Lier and her creche. “Kid’s Haven”, firt asylum and transit house which saved the lives of 150 Jewish toddlers and babies.

This film inspired by the thesis of historian Bert Jan Flim “Saving the Children”, was produced in meoroy of the fact that on May 5th 2010 Holland celebrated the end of Second World War, exactly 65 years ago.

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