The exhibition "The Girls of Room 28" has been created in September 2004 in Germany to fulfill the wish of survivors of Room 28 to remember the children of the Ghetto Theresienstadt and to honour those adults in the Ghetto who took care of them and passed on their knowledge, humanity and hope for a better future. Since the book alone could only convey part of their story, it was essential to let the original documents and their testimonies speak for themselves and give them a public forum.
The exhibition illustrates the story of 'The Girls of Room 28' using original documents - a diary, a scrapbook, notebooks, poems, letters, essays, photos, drawings - echoes of young lives, traces of lives lost as well as from those who survived. It has been created to complement the book 'The Girls of Room 28' and let the documents speak for themselves.
The exhibition turned into a touring one. Until today it was displayed an more than 60 places in Germany and abroad.
There is a Czech, a French and an English version and, since 2014, a newly designed Brazilian exhibition realized by Karen Zolko and Dodi Chansky.
The focus of the exhibition is the everyday life of those girls in Theresienstadt between 1942 and 1944, a life that contained the seeds of the impending tragedy. At the same time it reveals the story of a remarkable little community and the power of art, music, friendship and education.
The book and the exhibition is also an hommage to people who became, like Friedl Brandeis - important for the children.
The book and the exhibition also pay tribute to the legendary Bauhaus-artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. In her classes Friedl passed on her treasure- trove of experience to the children. "There was something unique about her teaching", recalls Helga Pollak-Kinsky. "During Art lessons I was oblivious to everything else. In her presence everything seemed to fall into place - more or less all on its own".
The story is closely linked to the Theresienstadt performances of the children opera 'Brundibár' by Hans Krása and Adolf Hoffmeister. Some of the girls were part of the cast, Ela Weissberger, née Stein played the role of the cat and sometimes Maria Mühlstein played Aninka. Some of the girls of room 28 sang in the choir of the school-children. And all of them were among the visitors and knew the songs by heart. The survivors remember the opera as a light in the darkness.
In 2008 the exhibition was presented in the German Parliament, Berlin. In 2013 a new English version was created for display in the European Commission in Brussels. In January 2014 the exhibition was displayed to the United Nations in Geneva. Helga Pollak-Kinsky was the keynote-speaker of the Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony of the United Nations. She also read from her Theresienstadt diary in Geneve as well as in Brussels.
The realization of the exhibtion was supported by the "Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft" (Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future). They also supported the invitation of the survivors of Room 28 to take part in the opening in Schwerin. it was part of the program of the international competition "Verfemte Music" (Forbidden Music) in Schwerin, organized by Volker Ahmels, head of the Jeunesses Musicales Landesverband M.V.
Concept, author, curator and organizor of the exhibtion: Hannelore Brenner-Wonschick.