I Never Saw Another Butterfly

Today is Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagvurah.  Memorial Day of the Holocaust and the Heroism.  Last night torches were lit by survivors of the camps.  A siren sounds all over the country for a moment of silence.  Services are held, lessons are taught, programs about the Holocaust and about WWII are shown throughout the day.   Stories are told, although each year, each month, each week, each day, the number of those who can tell their personal stories grows smaller.   Hundreds of teens and adults have flown to Poland to take part in the March of the Living at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

And I am knitting butterflies.

The Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas is creating an exhibition for Spring of 2014 called The Butterfly Project, in memory of the 1,500,000 children who perished in the Holocaust.  Butterflies because of a poem written by a young man which became the basis for a book of art and poetry by children in the concentration camp Terezin, as well as the basis for a one-act play by Celeste Raspanti.

“Children were neither just the mute and traumatized witnesses to this war, nor merely its innocent victims;  the war invaded their imaginations and the war raged inside them.”

— Nicholas Stargardtin “Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives Under the Nazis”

The museum has called for people to create as many handmade arts-and-crafts butterflies as possible. This project may be completed by all ages as individuals or groups.


  • Butterflies should be no larger than 8 inches by 10 inches.
  • Butterflies may be of any medium the artist chooses, but two-dimensional submissions are preferred.
  • Glitter and all glitter-related products should not be used.
  • Food products (cereal, macaroni, candy, marshmallows or other perishables) also should not be used.
  • If possible, e-mail a photograph of your butterflies, to butterflyproject@hmh.org

Deadline for submitting butterflies is 31 December, 2012, so there’s lots of time if you want to take part.  Many more details on the Project site, including mailing information, teaching activities, more answers.

As of today, more than 900,000 handmade butterflies have been collected.

I’m using a butterfly pattern by Rebecca from her blog ChemKnits.   She told me on Rav that she actually acted in the play in middle school, which I didn’t know when I chose the pattern.  It’s meant to be a stuffed toy, but I’m leaving the stuffing out to make it more two-dimensional.  I’m knitting them in cotton, with smaller-than-called-for needles, to make them firmer.

The Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone….

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure
because it wished
to kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
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 in here, in the ghetto.

Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942

 Born in Prague on Jan. 7, 1921.
 Deported to the Terezin Concentration Camp on April 26, 1942. 
 Died in Aushchwitz on Sept. 29, 1944.


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One Response to “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”

  1. Roberta Says:

    Beautiful idea.

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