The Butterfly Project

Shortly before he died, a young Pavel Friedmann wrote these words in a poem entitled “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” describing the hopelessness and despair of the Terezin Ghetto, the usual stop before Auschwitz. More than 15,000 children under the age of 15 passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between the years 1942 and 1944. Of these, more than 90 percent perished during the Holocaust.

Using these words as inspiration, The Butterfly Project was created as an ongoing effort to collect 1.5 million handmade butterflies – the number of innocent children that died throughout Europe during those horrifying years. For over 15 years, children and schoolgroups thorughout the world have joined together in the project to learn more about the dangers of hatred, prejudice, apathy, and the importance of individual responsibility. No one ever dreamed the reach it would have and how many lives it would touch. Utilizing virtually every art form, the project evolved into an international effort involving the efforts and works of thousands.

This year, La Salle University will be taking part in this project in a variety of ways. On this web page, we will be updating the campus community on upcoming events involving The Butterfly Project, sharing the works and efforts of our students, and providing the campus community with a resource it can use to get involved.

Below are many versions of butterflies that have been created by people involved with the project. La Salle’s community will soon be very involved with this project, kicking off with a poetry reading of works by Holocaust victims on January 29th, 2013. We will update this page then with more ways you can be involved.

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The Butterfly Project will be presenting a 90- minute program at La Salle University, De La Salle Chapel, on January 29, 2013 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. A Holocaust survivor/liberator will also speak during this program.

Based on the art and poetry of children imprisoned at the Terezin concentration camp during World War II (many of whom died during this era), this project is consistent with the missions of the University and the Christian Brothers.

We invite you to attend, and to encourage your classes to participate. If you are interested, we suggest that you consider preparing your students for what they will see and hear. It may be the case that your students know very little about the Holocaust and the concentration camp experience. Most likely, they do not know much about the 1.5 million children under the age of eighteen who perished. We think this experience will be more meaningful to them if they are prepared for this event.

The performance is based on an illustrated book of poetry written by the children in Terezin. Copies of this book are available for you to preview. Please contact Lane Neubauer (Neubauer@lasalle.edu) for further information. If you are interested in either material about Terezin or copies of the children’s poetry, please contact Lane Neubauer (Neubauer@lasalle.edu) for further information. A flyer with additional information about the project is attached to this email.

The Butterfly Project committee at La Salle sees this program as a good way to connect the plight of children threatened in the world today with the fate of these children from Terezin.  Our commitment to children throughout the world, our belief in the United Nations “Rights of the Child,” and particularly our Lasallian educational mission make this program a good “fit” for your students.