"I Never Saw Another Butterfly"Presentation Transcript
RESISTANCE during the Holocaust
The form of resistance during the Holocaust encompassed more than armed partisans or militias. It also encompassed artists, writers, poets, musicians, educators, or anyone who faced their suppressors with a victorious spirit of resistance.
The Little Fortress at Terezin, a star-shaped thick-walled fortress, had long served as a prison. Few people were incarcerated here from the time it was opened in 1780 to Hitler, the one exception being the assassins of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in 1914. The Nazis brought political prisoners and others to this hellish place never to emerge again. It was here that many Jewish artists were sent. It was their work which allowed the outside world to know dramatically about life in Theresienstadt or Terezin.
These artists also stole materials so that the children could surreptitiously create their works of art. Six thousand drawings were hidden and later successfully retrieved to be displayed telling their poignant stories to thousands of viewers in Prague, Israel, and Washington, D.C. This considerable volume of artwork and poetry produced by the children was inspired by the large number of adult artists and intellectuals who stayed at Theresienstadt. The adults held classes and tried to give some sense of normalcy to the lives of the children.
Frieda Dicker Brandeis, a Bauhaus-trained art teacher, brought art supplies rather than extra food or clothing with her when she and all the Jews in her Czech town were sent to the Theresienstadt by the Nazis in 1942.
Until her death two years later, she helped terrorized children forget their troubles, if only temporarily, by engaging them in art projects.
Frieda Dicker Brandeis View in Theresienstadt
Czech artist Bedrich Fritta
Bedrich Fritta was head of the Theresienstadt ghetto’s technical department, whose workers were Jewish artists imprisoned in the ghetto. Forced to prepare propaganda for the Germans, whenever possible they also secretly documented the grim reality of their daily lives.
Tommy, a children’s book, was drawn and written as a gift for Bedrich Fritta’s son, Thomas, on his third birthday. He wanted his son to know about all the normal things outside the ghetto walls like trees, birds, flowers and parks. It was a gift of optimism in hopes of a better life in the future.
Fritta perished in Auschwitz, and his wife Hansi died in Theresienstadt. After the war, Thomas was adopted by his father’s friend and fellow artist Leo Hass and his wife Erna, who also recovered the manuscript. It is a poignant symbol reflecting the hopeful spirit of resistance which continues today on the printed pages of Tommy.
The children of Theresienstadt Fifteen thousand children under the age of fifteen passed through the Theresienstadt; fewer than one hundred survived. Resistance in this camp can be seen through the words and pictures written and drawn by the young inmates of Theresienstadt. The daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their hopes, fears, courage, and optimism, is recorded in over 4000 drawings. Of the 15,000 children who passed through between 1941 and 1945 only 132 survived.
Poems and drawings of the children were hidden at Theresienstadt inside mattresses and stuffed in cracks between the walls of houses. They were recovered after the war. Theresienstadt was unique among concentration camps. This was the fake city of safety, the ruse to fool the world. For anyone who does not know the full story of it, the determined preservation of music, art, education and all that creates culture amidst these appalling conditions is beyond remarkable.
Poems and paintings of the children of Theresienstadt
Like many other young children, 12-year-old Helga Weissova drew pictures of what she saw in Theresienstadt. Growing up in Theresienstadt, she witnessed the Holocaust through a child's clear eyes as it consumed her world. With crayons and paintbrushes, she recorded institutionalized barbarities and everyday decencies in images that still sear the soul. Helga was one of just a few who survived to become a living witness to the horrors of life inside Theresienstadt. Helga Weissova Arrival at Theresienstadt
RESISTANCE THROUGH ART AND POETRY “ In most cases, little is known about the children of Terezin. Camp records generally provided only dates of birth; arrival at Terezin; and departure, destination, and fate. Through their artistic expressions, the voices of these children, each one unique and individual, reach us across the abyss of the greatest crime in human history, allow us to touch them, and restore our own humanity in doing so.” ( I Never Saw Another Butterfly )
THE GARDEN A little garden, Fragrant and full of roses. The path is narrow And a little boy walks along it. A little boy, a sweet boy, Like that growing blossom. When the blossom comes to bloom, The little boy will be no more. --Franta Bass
AT TEREZIN When a new child comes Everything seems strange to him. What, on the ground I have to lie? Eat black potatoes? No! Not I! I've got to stay? It's dirty here! The floor- why, look, it's dirt, I fear! And I'm supposed to sleep on it? I'll get all dirty! Here the sound of shouting, cries, And oh, so many flies. Everyone knows flies carry disease. Oooh, something bit me! Wasn't that a bedbug? Here in Terezin, life is hell and when I'll go home again, I can't yet tell. --"Teddy" 1943
Artist is unknown.
ON A SUNNY EVENING
On a purple, sun-shot evening Under wide-flowering chestnut trees Upon the threshold full of dust Yesterday, today, the days are all like these. Trees flower forth in beauty, Lovely too their very wood all gnarled and old That I am half afraid to peer Into their crowns of green and gold. The sun has made a veil of gold So lovely that my body aches. Above, the heavens shriek with blue Convinced I've smiled by some mistake. The world's abloom and seems to smile. I want to fly but where, how high? If in barbed wire, things can bloom Why couldn't I? I will not die! --Michael Flack, 1944
BIRDSONG He doesn't know the world at all Who stays in his nest and doesn't go out. He doesn't know what birds know best Nor what I want to sing about, That the world is full of loveliness. When dewdrops sparkle in the grass And earth's aflood with morning light, A blackbird sings upon a bush To greet the dawning after night. Then I know how fine it is to live. Hey, try to open up your heart To beauty; go to the woods someday And weave a wreath of memory there. Then if the tears obscure your way You'll know how wonderful it is To be alive. --Anonymous 1941
THE MUSIC OF TERRAZIN
The question why the Nazis used orchestras in concentration and extermination camps, and why the life of some musicians was spared and others not is difficult to answer. Some Nazis realized the advantage of having music dupe the unsuspecting and weary prisoners on arrival or when sending them on their way to the gas chambers. Then there were those in the Nazi hierarchy who believed that music would enhance their own entertainment. Against this background, emerged one of the most outstanding examples of resistance. Rafael Schachter devoted his time to making music under the most horrible of circumstances. Song of Defiance They confronted the Nazis with the only weapon they had: their voices
The Jewish prisoners subjected to this inhuman regimen included distinguished scholars and scientists in all fields, painters, sculptors, composers, instrumentalists, operatic divas, and other musicians. They were determined to maintain their spirits in the face of their conditions by continuing their intellectual and artistic endeavors for the benefit of fellow prisoners after their long workdays on meager rations. One musician, Rafael Schächter , devoted himself to making music in Teresin. In addition to such musical endeavors as staging operas, Schächter directed a chorus of 150 in performing Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem . Schächter had a single copy of the Verdi score and his chorus learned the work by rote (today’s piano-reduction choral score runs to 140 pages). In 1943 and 1944, they performed the Requiem sixteen times accompanied only on a legless piano propped up on boxes. "He was a hero because he shared his love He shared his love for music with people who needed it at a time when they needed it very badly. The camps were places that treated people in the worst possible way that mankind can invent. Yet his response to that was not to go down to their level but to rise above and show the best of mankind, to respond to the worst of mankind with the best of mankind. So he took great music, great art, and he tried to inspire all of his people to choose life and to be determined. He himself was a victim, and yet he led others to the highest heights. Rafael Schachter Rafael Schachter
“ We need King Matt now, in our world more than ever.” Maurice Sendak Janusz Korczak ( educator and physician) Janusz Korczak was Poland’s most famous children’s advocate. He was a Jewish physician who ran an orphanage which he directed. In addition to his orphanage, he produced a well respected children’s newspaper and a weekly radio program in Poland. In 1940 his orphanage was relocated to the Warsaw Ghetto. For the next two years, Janusz Korczak used all of his connections to help the orphans survive with dignity. In the summer of 1942, he resisted help from friends in escaping preferring instead to go with his children to Treblinka where they all eventually perished. Janusz Korczak with some of his orphan children. King Matt the First – Janusz Korczak
In King Matt the First by Janusz Korczak, the book ends with Matt being marched in gold chains down the streets of his kingdom to his supposed execution, an eerie foreshadowing of what was to happen to his creator.
"It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. Everyone had come out to see their king one last time. Many people had tears in their eyes. But Matt did not see those tears . . . He was looking at the sky, the sun.” He tells himself, “True heroes show themselves in adversity."
Like a true Polish romantic hero, torn between a life of action and one of spiritual transformation, Matt has won morally even though he dies, for he has inspired others to continue his struggle.
As Janusz Korczak left the ghetto with the children, for their deportation, the children carried with them the flag of King Matt.
The true victory of the human spirit shines through in all of these examples of resistance. One not only glimpses the warmth and compassion for the human condition by all of these heroic individuals, but one also sees the human spirit rising above the evils of the perpetrators during one of man’s darkest periods in human history.