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I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings & Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp,1942-44 2 Exp Sub Edition
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Original Language: Czech
From the Inside Flap
The ghetto of Terezin (Theresienstadt), located in the hills outside Prague, was an unusual concentration camp in that it was created to cover up the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Billed as the "Fuhrer's gift to the Jews," this "model ghetto" was the site of a Red Cross inspection visit in 1944 and of a propaganda film produced by the Nazis. Some elderly Jews even paid to enter its protective ghetto walls. With its high proportion of artists and intellectuals, culture flourished in the ghetto -- alongside starvation, disease, and constant dread of the continuous transports to the death camps of the east. Every one of its inhabitants was condemned in advance to die.
A total of 15,000 children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between the years 1942 and 1944; less than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates of Terezin, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their courage and optimism, their hopes and fears.
The drawings and poems are all that is left of these children. About those who signed their names to their work, it has been possible to find out a few facts: the year and place of their birth, the date of their transport to Terezin and to Auschwitz, and the date of their death. For most of them that last date was 1944, a year before the end of the war.
These innocent and honest depictions allow us to see through the eyes of the children what life was like in the ghetto. Birds and butterflies flutter with the looming red roofs of Terezin in the background; a luminous moonlit room betrays the stark interior of the barracks. Pencil line drawings depict the threatening guards, work brigades, and deportations they witnessed. Side by side with the realities are images of hope -- a sailboat guided by a candle, a lighted menorah, children playing in a garden that resembles Eden, figures scaling mountain peaks to liberation.
The children's poems and drawings, revealing a maturity beyond their years, are haunting reminders of what no child should ever have to see. Each piece of art gives the overwhelming tragedy of genocide a human and individual face.
This new, expanded edition of I Never Saw Another Butterfly includes many additional drawings and poems chosen from the archives of the State Jewish Museum in Prague by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Top Customer Reviews
I wish I spoke Dutch (?) so that I could read contributor Helga Weissova's "Das Kunstlerische Schaffen" -- I'd like to see what else she has to say. I wish that Soña Spitzovã, who drew my favorite of the drawings ("Starlight In A Dark Room," page 53) hadn't died in Auschwitz before she was even fifteen years old.
The things these children saw! They noticed the trains, the transports. Helga Weissova did a painting of a woman, JUDE star on her clothing, whose hair was searched for lice. They also saw flowers in jelly jars on tables. They remembered their own beds.
I think that art exists, in part, to speak when we are no longer able to.
This book was purchased from my amazon.com wishlist. I think I'll be getting a copy for a friend who's in school to be an art therapist; I think she'll get a lot out of it.
...I never saw another butterfly... is a moving illustration of what it was like for a child to live in a concentration camp during WWII. The drawings often depict a life full of beauty and it seemed amazing to me that the children were able to, at this time, see all the beautiful things around them even though they were in the midst of death. The poems on the other hand often portray the longing of wanting to be in a safe place elsewhere, and they also relate more of the harsh reality of what was really going on at the concentration camps. The book is tied together through the contrast of the brightly colored paintings with the dim spirit of the poems. The reader will instantly be amazed at the talents of these young children, most under the age of 14, and at the same time feel a horrible sense of pity for these children, whom most perished in Auschwitz. The book is a wonderful and diverse collection of works, although there could have been a more diverse collection of authors included, instead of multiple works by the same author.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a beautiful but sad reflection of children in the HolocaustPublished 11 months ago by Deena Z Sortland
A moving story lies behind this volume of children's artwork, poems and short narratives. The heartbreaking artwork is beautifully reproduced, and the foreword is by the... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Janet M. Zacharias
Just a beautiful book. The poems may not be astounding, but they are poignant, as are the beautiful images that accompany them. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Byrd
I directed our Youth Theatre in the play based on the book. The book really helped the students relate to what they were protraying on stage. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Dianne Pytel