Something very special happened this week. Tutti and Popje were reunited! Popje had been living at the Museum of Jewish Civilization (MJC) at the University of Hartford for about five years. The MJC had a wonderful exhibit “Hartford Remembers the Holocaust” in which several local Holocaust survivor stories were told through pictures, documents, artifacts, and video. Schools came from around the state to teach lessons of the Holocaust on site.
Tutti with Popje after picking her up this week
Due to the pandemic the museum was shut down as the small space really doesn’t allow for groups to maintain social distancing. As a result, Popje was getting lonely and Tutti worried that she might be misplaced. It took several emails and phone calls to find the right person who was able to return Popje to Tutti, but we persevered.
For anyone who doesn’t know the backstory to the doll, let me summarize. When my mother was only nine years old my grandfather told her to never let anyone take the doll away from her. He had hidden some money in the doll’s head while the family was imprisoned in Westerbork, a Nazi transit camp in the Netherlands. The full story can be found in Tutti’s Promise. Imagine being nine years old and knowing it’s your responsibility to hold on to your family’s only money during such difficult and dangerous times. It’s amazing that she loaned the doll to the museum for as long as she did.
Mom and I talked about whether Popje should be donated to another Holocaust museum or memorial in the future. We aren’t sure yet where she will end up, but for now, she is staying with Tutti. She is safe in an archival quality box to protect her from the elements and mom has her proudly and lovingly displayed in her home.