Our 8th Graders read Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, Night, a candid, autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. During the book discussion Ms. Glover (ELA) introduced the students to I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944.
Ms. Sahr (Art) then worked with the 8th Graders in Art Class creating butterflies that were inspired by the poems and artwork of the concentration camp victims.
Our 8th Graders then visited the Center for Jewish History with Ms. Glover (ELA) and Ms. Rennell (Social Studies) and listed to a talk by Dr. Magdalena Wrobel on Theresienstadt, a “camp-ghetto” that existed from November 24, 1941 – May 9, 1945. Theresienstadt served as a “settlement,” an assembly camp, and a concentration camp. In its function as a tool of deception, Theresienstadt was unique.
In Nazi propaganda, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a “spa-town” where elderly German Jews could “retire” in safety. The deportations to Theresienstadt were, however, part of the Nazi strategy of deception. The ghetto was in reality a collection center for deportations to ghettos and killing centers in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe. Of the approximately 140,000 Jews transferred to Theresienstadt, nearly 90,000 were deported to points further east and certain death. Roughly 33,000 died in Theresienstadt itself. There were 17,247 survivors.
The poems and artwork in I Never Saw Another Butterfly are all work of the inmates of Theresienstadt.