As part of their annual Yom HaShoah Art Project, I worked with P7 students at Calderwood Lodge Primary School to learn about the history of the ghetto at Terezin. Over 15,000 children passed through Terezin, with only 100 surviving the Shoah. 

 

There were many poems and drawings created by children in Terezin, most famously The Butterfly by Pavel Friedman. Inspired by this symbol of hope, the P7 students created their own butterflies using a variety of media including embroidery, image transfer and felt pens. Many children looked into the personal stories of individuals in Terezin, while others chose to focus on the magnitude of the lives lost during the horrors of the Shoah. 

 

To me, these butterflies are a symbol of resistance. Resistance took many forms during the Shoah, from issuing visas to help refugees escape, to teaching art lessons within the ghettos. The children of Terezin resisted by hoping, and by leaving traces of their lives to be remembered. It’s my hope that our butterflies serve to memorialize these brave children, passing on their legacies to future generations. 

The Butterfly

By Pavel Friedman 

 

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 goodbye. 

 

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here, 

 Penned up inside this ghetto 

 But I have found my people here. 

 The dandelions call to me 

 And the white chestnut candles in the court. 

 Only I never saw another butterfly. 

 

That butterfly was the last one. 

 Butterflies don’t live in here, 

 In the ghetto.