Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures


by Elspeth


Today is Holocaust Memorial Day and, although it has been marked in this country for several years, it is perhaps one of the less well-known days to be remembered by The Bears in the Windows.  The reason why 27th January was chosen is because it’s the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp during the Second World War.

Of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, approximately one and a half million were children and, for me, visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington were heart-rending experiences. 

No Child’s Play’, one of the exhibitions at Yad Vashem, opens a window onto the world of the children who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust, using toys, games, artwork, diaries and poems to highlight their stories.  Teddy bears and dolls became integral parts of these children’s lives and were often their main source of comfort and companionship.  At the end of the war, teddies were sometimes all that survived from their childhood and, even as adults, most still found it very difficult being parted from them.

In 2003, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Yad Vashem, the Israel Philatelic Bureau issued a special stamp in memory of the children of the Holocaust.  The design shows a teddy with the yellow Star of David, which all Jews were forced to wear, lying on top of a document called ‘the page of destiny’.  One of these stamps, along with the story of one of the children who found comfort in a teddy bear during the worst experience of his life, is always the central point of the bears’ Holocaust Memorial Day window. 


This year’s, mirroring the colours of the Israeli flag, also features several blue and white bears.  Without doubt, the most poignant for me is a little blue beanie bear with a white embroidered menorah on his chest who’s hugging a tiny blue and white teddy who, in turn, is holding tight to an even tinier blue ted.  There’s also an eternal flame and two stones, bought at the Holocaust Museum, which are simply inscribed, ‘Remember’.


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