As I was preparing this, I had a vague memory of several museums collecting butterflies for a Holocaust memorial project. I did a quick google search and discovered the Houston Holocaust Museum is collecting butterflies until June 30 THIS YEAR for their display.
They had a few rules: no glitter and no food, and preferably flat. I can follow those rules, they were ones I’d do on my own anyways.
Then I started reading excerpts from the book, poems and memories of the kids living there. And I started crying, it’s hard to read these knowing what happened to so many of these kids.
We looked at the pictures the children drew. It amazes me that in some small way these pictures are a pre-cursor to some of our modern counseling techniques for children. Now we have kids draw and write out what they’re feeling.
After reading the book for a while and looking at the pictures. We discussed how we thought the kids felt form the pictures they drew, what they were thinking. How did we feel looking at these pictures. I look at the one above, and it’s so sad and depressing. But many of them had hope, look at the top picture. There are flowers, and its two sisters laying down in a bed together, or maybe it was a blanket. They’re happy, look at the difference between these two pictures. Sometimes we’d talk about the ages of the kids involved, not often because that was very hard to discuss.
Finally I introduced the Butterflies to Remember project. The kids were all very excited about it. I talked about how sometimes the kids in the ghetto (it was labeled a concentration camp later, but at the start it was where Hitler sent the world to see his “humane” treatment of the Jewish problem) used whatever they had to make these pictures, so some of the materials supplied were recycling paper.
Than I set them loose with markers, pencils, crayons, colored paper, glue, and scissors.
And they created.
And created for almost an hour. They all put a lot of time and effort into this knowing it was to remember kids who didn’t have a happy life, and to remember how the world turned a blind eye. We created our butterflies to remember how a few people stood up and said it was wrong.
We created our butterflies to remember the pain the kids went through. We created our butterflies to remind us of the hope of rebirth.
But most of all we created our butteflies to remember because sometimes in response to great tragedy you need to create something beautiful and something good to remember there is good and beauty in the world.
I’ve got the butterflies sitting next to me all ready to be mailed. It was a hard lesson, with a lot of questions, but it was a good lesson. Sometimes we need this small reminder.
For more US history ideas check out my pinterest board: