Several months ago I shared the title of a very special book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, by Hana Volavkova. This book contains a collection of poetry and artwork penned by children's hands as they suffered in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust. A sample from the book is included on this post. Based on the book's concept, The Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) is sponsoring a special project that commemorates all the precious children who were victims of the historic tragedy. They are collecting "artistic butterflies." As of 2008, more than 400,000 butterflies had been collected. The project will continue into 2011. If you would like to contribute by sending a butterfly, click on the links and visit the museum's site. There are many pictures of ones that have been submitted. I especially like the origami butterfly. It is intricate, yet simple. It symbolizes the children's innocence and gentleness. At the same time, they showed tremendous courage when faced with horrific fear. I became aware of this book many years ago as I browsed the shelves of my local library. It captured my heart, and it brought tears as I read the beautiful poetry and looked at the pencil/crayola drawings. As a teacher, I shared the book with many classes. My students were also captivated and saw a more personal side to the Holocaust than the history books could relate. I intend to share a butterfly. I hope that some, perhaps all, of my readers will, too! If you would like to purchase a paperback edition of this unforgettable book, please visit The Mint Julep Paperie. Two are available from my own library collection of four copies.
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone....
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure
because it wished
to kiss the world good-bye. For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto.
Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942.
Born in Prague on January 7, 1921.
Deported to the Terezin Concentration Camp on April 26, 1942.
Died in Aushchwitz on September 29, 1944