This popular exhibit was made possible by a donation from the Rotary Club of Waterdown which allowed the museum to build an exact scale walk-in trench, 21 feet long and 4 feet wide. The trench commemorates the 100th Anniversaries of the Battle of the Somme in 2016 and Vimy Ridge in 2017. The trench was inspired by the walk-in trench at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
“I think it just makes it more real, You hear the stories about the trenches and the war, but you don’t really get to experience it yourself. So this way, kids can come in and actually see what existed.”
– Emma Pugsley, former student (from Flamborough Review article, April 29, 2016)
“To give them an experience, but also to give them an idea of what life may be like in battle.”
– Rob Flosman (from Flamborough Review article, April 29, 2016)
Nadia Rosa Exhibit
The museum has displayed the story of Nadia Rosa and her Yellow Star for several years. A Holocaust survivor, the museum welcomed her as well as representatives from the Hamilton Jewish Federation in June 2022. Now 84 years old, she lives in Hamilton, and is instrumental in Holocaust education throughout Hamilton. Hearing her story first-hand, students developed a deeper understanding of anti-Semitism.
“When I even lived with my grandparents there was an atmosphere of fear in the house. I was a little child and I was always alone.”
“Anti-Semitism goes so far back in human history. Where I come from Slovakia the Jewish community is doing a lot. I really didn’t think I would live so long to see this happen again”
“One and a half million children died and I survived. I have an obligation to speak for them.”
– Nadia Rosa, Holocaust survivor and biochemist/geneticist, at the museum in 2022, sharing her reason for telling her story
Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass
Fall 2018 exhibits commemorated the 80th anniversary since Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. To recognize this event, the Waterdown Museum of Hope built a replica Jewish storefront for students to learn hands-on about this event that increased anti-Semitism.
“During Kristallnacht, 267 synagogues and 7500 Jewish shops were burned or destroyed with 30000 Jewish men arrested and being sent to concentration camps and 91 deaths. This all happened in Germany, Austria and the Sudentenland. After Kristallnacht the Jews were forced to pay 1 billion Reich mark “atonement tax” and all insurance claims were confiscated.”
– from student project
Anne Frank Exhibit
The museum was inspired by a travelling Anne Frank Exhibit, on loan from New York, “Art and Propaganda in Nazi-occupied Holland”, the first museum in Canada to house this exhibit. In 2017, student interest in her story led to a to-scale replica of her bedroom.
In recognition of Anne Frank’s 90th birthday in 2019, the museum hosted Menno Metselaar, Project Manager at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam on May 15. He was on a North American book tour for “All About Anne“, published in 2018. After his talk, Mr. Metselaar signed copies of his book and visited the museum. Our student docents escorted him around each display and he shared additional insight into Anne Frank’s life and the Anne Frank House.
“Eight, six and 761 – those are the three numbers that tell Anne’s story.”*
– Menno Metselaar, Project Manager, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
*8 people hiding in annex, 6 staff who helped, 761 days the Franks spent in hiding.
Train Car and the Holocaust
The museum added a new room that focused on the Holocaust. Students took visitors through the birth of Nazism and Hitler.
The room also includes a model of a train car used to transport Jewish prisoners. The train car was built by student Alexis Rayner and her grandfather Cliff, and included displays about Holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel and Max Eisen.
“The students become the keepers of the history.”
– Rob Flosman
Wall of Heroes
The Hope Project” was an end-of-year assignment that encouraged students to tie their family history to their community. Research into each student’s family history evolved into a wall display called “Wall of Heroes”.
“We decided we would bring hope to this course in the form of their major, final project. The students are required to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to better themselves and the community or their school, using the lessons of genocide.”
– Rob Flosman (from Flamborough Review article, May 3, 2013)
Monuments of Hope
Monuments of Hope are meant to honour those impacted by war and violence, and to serve as a reminder to the rest of the world.
“Learning about my family’s story has really changed my life and inspired me in so many ways.”
– Maddy Thomas, 2022 student