Focus Questions

When do you think this photograph was taken?

Is this photograph different to your family photographs today?

Which part of the photograph do you notice most and why? Describe what you can see.

Have you noticed...What is Barney holding in his hands? It can give you a clue where this photograph was taken. Click to reveal answer

Barney is holding a wooden clog a traditional Dutch shoe. The photograph was taken in Holland.

Explore themes

The Greenman Family

The Greenman Family

A photograph of Leon and Else Greenman with their son Barney taken in a friend’s garden. 

Print Zoom

The Object

Object Name: The Greenman Family
Date: June 1942
Catalogue number: 533.6
Material(s): Black & White Photograph
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

  • Look closely at Leon and Else. Even though they look happy, this photograph was taken at a time when life for Jewish people in Holland became really difficult. From February 1941 Jewish people were called up and deported to concentration camps.
  • Think about who could have taken this photograph.
  • Look closely at Else holding up Barney. Why do you think she needs to hold him up? 

The Story

The Greenman Family

Leon Greenman was born in London, but grew up in Rotterdam. In 1935 he married Else in Stepney Green Synagogue. After their wedding, the couple moved back to Rotterdam to be near Else’s grandmother.

When Holland was invaded by Germany in May 1940, Leon hid his family’s British documents with friends to keep them safe. However, the friends were fearful of being punished by the Nazi’s and destroyed the only proof of the Greenmans’ British identity.

The photograph was taken in the garden of other non-Jewish friends in Rotterdam in June 1942, at a time when non Jewish people were discouraged to mix with Jewish people. The risk Leon’s friends took in inviting the Greenmans was enormous.

This photograph is probably the last family portrait taken of Leon, Else and Barney. There are more images of this day featuring Leon’s sister Dina and the friends they were visiting. Dina decided to join her best friend who was called up to go to a labour camp, both were murdered in Auschwitz.

Leon, Else and Barney were taken out of their home on October 8, 1942 and taken to Westerbork transit camp. Unable to prove their British nationality, they were sent to Auschwitz Birkenau where Else and Barney were murdered. Leon survived and returned to London after the war where he campaigned tirelessly against intolerance and injustice.  He spoke about his camp experiences in schools up until his death in 2008. The Jewish museum has a permanent exhibition about his life. 

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF on Anti-Jewish Laws 

Anti-Jewish Laws PDF

Download this PDF called 'Am I My Brother's Keeper?'