August Pelliccio—Photo Editor
In memory of the thousands of individuals killed after their capture and entrapment in the Terezin concentration camp, a collection of artwork and literature reflecting on the Holocaust will remain in Hilton C. Buley Library for the month of April.
David Pettigrew, a Judaic studies professor and co-curator of the Holocaust Remembrance Exhibition, said, at the exhibit’s opening reception, the purpose of the display is to recall the victims, rescuers and survivors of Terezin,
“[Terezin] is referred to as a camp-ghetto, since it was a concentration camp with a number of specific functions,” Pettigrew said, “but it also had the nature of a ghetto because it was within a defined space: the walls of a town.”
The camp was a detention center, Pettigrew said, that ultimately focused on deportation to extermination campus such as Auschwitz. The deceptive nature of the camp, he said, was its advertisement as a spa retreat for Czech Jews, who would later be part of “the final solution,” as German officials called it.
“We memorialize children who came to Terezin as orphans and stayed there from 1942 to 1944, and consequently [were] sent to Auschwitz to be killed,” said Miriam Glenn, co-curator of the exhibit, at the recepetion.
In remembrance of the many individuals whose lives were taken, Glenn and Pettigrew held an opening ceremony to the remembrance exhibit.
“We zeroed in on two particular books,” Glenn said. “One is called, ‘I Never Saw Another Butterfly,’ and one is called ‘Hana’s suitcase.’”
The former is a collection of art and poetry written and made by the children living in Terezin. The latter is the uncovered story of a Czechoslovakian orphan Hana Brady, whose family’s life was uprooted by the Nazi invasion.
Glenn said because of the focus on Terezin and influence from “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” the theme of this year’s display case is butterflies. Hand crafted butterflies of many sorts can be found in the display, but the outer surface of the case is also decorated with paper butterflies.
“These hand-colored butterflies were made by children in the third grade from Mauro-Sheridan school in New Haven,” Glenn said.
Excerpts from “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” were read at the opening ceremony by Alexis Simons, a senior, communication disorders major, Alana Cotton, a junior, interdisciplinary studies major and Brenna Ross, a junior, theater major.
In addition to the poems, written by the children of Terezin, the work of Yiddish poet and songwriter Mordkhay Gebirtig was performed by Rachel Adelstein, an ethnomusicologist. Adelstein performed Gebirtig’s “Es Brent,” (It is burning), a warning song for the Polish Jews, which Adelstein said Gebirtig wrote a few years before being shot in the Krakow ghetto.
Pieces of visual art in memory of Holocaust victims are also featured in the display, including a wooden sculpture by artist Zvi Goldman.
“I quickly realized it is impossible to comprehend, in one work or [many], the essence of the Holocaust,” Goldman said, at the reception.
Consequently, he said, he created a sculpture meant to convey the revival period that flourished after the Holocaust, symbolizing unity of all men and women around the world.
Rosalyn Amenta, a professor of women’s studies shared with the exhibit a book of photographs put together by her father. Amenta said her father served in the 45th army infantry assigned to liberate the Dachau concentration camp, and his photos told the story of horror and unspeakable inhumanity.
“He was an eyewitness to what happened,” Amenta said, “and when he came back, I remember as a little girl how traumatized my father was.”
Her purpose for sharing the photos, she said, was to demonstrate what people are capable of when hatred is not stopped.
Pettigrew said the opening reception was part of the Holocaust Remembrance program, which is in its third year at the school.
Photo Credit: August Pelliccio