Now, back to the play A Ball for Genia. The formidable General Strassel and Wachter have agreed to a debate. The topic? The Rights of the Third Reich vs. the Rights of Humanity. Strassel will argue that the rights of the third Reich are synonymous, or the same. Wachter will take the opposite stand that the rights are not at all the same, but completely opposite. The prize for the winner? If Strassel wins, he will take Lusia and Genia with him, and very likely, ship them off to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The last, the very last,
against a white stone. . . .
Such, such a yellow
It went away I’m sure because it wished to
kiss the world good-bye.
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live here,
in the ghetto.
Of all the sadness of the Holocaust, the saddest were the children, and the fate they suffered even before they had a chance to live to the full. Such as was case of the boy, Pave Friedman, age 14, who wrote The Butterfly. Such a talent and such a yearning to live, to be cut off so soon. He and his family were eventually transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Pavel died, along with his family. Here follows brief review of the book and how it came into existence.
Terezin was “gift” from Hitler to the Jews, and was supposed to be an excellent place to live. Many of the very old were sent them to live out their lives there, and Jewish war veterans who had served in World War I were included. Even Reinhard Heydrich mentioned it favorably. It was even governed by a group of Jewish elders. But the gift from Hitler soon became ghetto whose inhabitants were closely restricted as in any concentration camp. Fifteen thousand of those imprisoned there were children confined there, and if they were not orphans, with their parents.
The story of Terezin and the place of children in it are told in a book titled . . . I never saw another butterfly. . . The book’s sub-title is “Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944.” A brilliant foreword by Chaim Potok tells the history of Terezin and its transition from a quiet back-country city in early 1941 to a ghetto of 60,000 inhabitants in late 1942.
The book is replete with the charming drawings by children; here are some examples--
|No! Oh, NO!|
There were 15,000 children at Terezin.
All were transferred to Auschwitz. One hundred survived, none under age 14. The angels must weep.
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