Scrapbookpages Blog

June 1, 2017

Butterflies and the Holocaust

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:57 pm

This morning I read a news article which mentions the role of butterflies in the Holocaust:

The following quote is from the news article:

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Czechoslovakian teenager Alena Synkova penned the poem, “I’d Like to Go Alone,” while confined at the Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp, a ghetto in the hills outside of Prague that was home to 15,000 children between 1942-1944.

Synkova was one of fewer than 100 children who passed through Terezin to survive the Nazi genocide. Her poignant poem and other drawings and poems created by the children of Terezin are compiled and preserved in “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”, first published in 1959 for the State Jewish Museum in Prague and later published in the United States in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Using a grant she received three years ago to support Holocaust education, Central School Reach teacher Jill Zimmer purchased a classroom set of “I Never Saw a Butterfly” and, working with Grade 5 teacher Jennifer SanAntonio, the two came up with a powerful fifth grade language arts unit.

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I wrote about this in a previous blog post which you can read at

The following quote is from the blog post, cited above:

When I visited the Memorial Site at the former Majdanek camp, I was surprised to see all the artwork on display; there were sculptures and lots of other artwork that had been done by the prisoners in the camp. I remember a rosary that had been fashioned out of bits of bread that had been wadded up and left to dry to make the beads. I did not see the butterfly pictures, but perhaps they had been taken to another Holocaust Museum in America or Israel for display.

The children in the Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp were allowed to do artwork and they were even given lessons in drawing and painting by an adult teacher. Some of their pictures were on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC when I visited there years ago.

But to get back to the “Nazi monsters.” Hitler was an artist himself. Is that why he allowed the children to draw or paint butterflies before they were killed in the gas chamber? Hitler may have thought that he was being kind to the innocent children by allowing them to paint butterflies before dying, but I think this was unnecessarily cruel. It gave the children hope, when there was none.

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