Remembering the children who perished in Holocaust

Butterflies made at local library to be featured in Houston museum’s 2013 exhibition

BY JENNIFER KOHLHEPP
Staff Writer

 Madi Murphy, 12, (l-r) Alaina Stampe, 12, and Jordana Paris, 11, create butterflies in memory of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. The program was held at the Allentown Public Library on March 31.  SCOTT FRIEDMAN Madi Murphy, 12, (l-r) Alaina Stampe, 12, and Jordana Paris, 11, create butterflies in memory of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. The program was held at the Allentown Public Library on March 31. SCOTT FRIEDMAN Millions of people died in the Holocaust, among them 1.5 million children. Some children fell prey to disease and malnutrition before they could be deported from the ghettos in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary. Others perished in concentration camps or through execution. In remembrance of the children who needlessly suffered and died, the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas, started The Butterfly Project.

The Butterfly Project will culminate in the spring of 2013 with an exhibition of arts-and-crafts butterflies made throughout the world to symbolize the innocent child victims of the Holocaust. Eight branches of the Monmouth County Library System hosted butterfly workshops during the past two weeks in an effort to engage as many children as possible in the project.

 Alaina Stampe, 12, (r) puts the finishing touches on her butterfly as Jordana Paris, 11, admires her finished creation. Alaina Stampe, 12, (r) puts the finishing touches on her butterfly as Jordana Paris, 11, admires her finished creation. Stephanie Acosta, coordinator of young adult programming for the Monmouth County Library System, said children learn about the Holocaust in school but rarely get an opportunity to participate in an activity that will help the world prevent such an atrocity from happening again.

“They want to do something to help, bring awareness to it and to remember the people who lost their lives,” Acosta said. “They want people to never forget so that it never happens again.”

The library system will collect the butterflies made at each branch for display at library headquarters in Manalapan for Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2. The butterflies will then be sent to the Holocaust Museum, where they will become a part of the 2013 exhibition.

The museum chose butterflies to symbolize the children in homage to Pavel Friedman, who died at the age of 23 in Auschwitz on Sept. 29, 1944. Born in Prague, Friedman had just turned 21 years old when he was deported to the Terezin Concentration Camp in April 1942. After living there seven weeks, Friedman wrote a poem about a bright, dazzling yellow butterfly that he watched fly away and “kiss the world goodbye.”

“I never saw another butterfly,” Friedman wrote. “Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto.”

When Millstone’s Grace Giffen, 13, learned about the conditions children lived and died in during the Holocaust, she felt obligated to do something.

“AtMillstoneTownshipMiddle Schoolwe read ‘Number the Stars’ and ‘The Wave’ and they really got me inflamed,” Grace said. “I wanted to do something about it to make sure it does not happen again.”

She and other local children gathered at the Allentown Public Library on March 31 to create butterflies for the museum exhibition.

Madi Murphy, 12, and her sister Mackenzie, 10, said they signed up for the program because they also learned about the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust at St. Gregory the Great School in Hamilton Square.

“I thought it was weird to learn that Hitler wanted the whole world to have blonde hair and blue eyes, because he didn’t have either of those,” Madi said.

Allentown’s Jordana Paris, 11, called Hitler and the Holocaust unfair.

“I decided to participate because that was a very sad and hard time for the Jewish people,” Paris said. “And I want to make sure no one can be discriminated against because of their race or religion again.”

The Holocaust Museum has already collected an estimated 600,000 handmade butterflies and is trying to collect as many as possible by June 30, 2012. Those interested in making butterflies for the museum’s 2013 exhibition can email butterflyproject@hmh.org or visit www.hmh.org/ed_ butterfly1. shtml for more information.