During World War II the Gestapo used Terezin, better known by the German named Theresienstadt, as a concentration camp. The majority of the Jews sent were scholars, professionals, artists and musicians. Inmates were encouraged to lead creative lives, and concerts were even held. Within the camp, parks, grassy areas and flower beds, concert venues and statues were installed to hide the truth; that most of the inmates were going to be killed.

 This was all part of a Nazi plot to deceive the International Red Cross inspectors into believing that Jews were being treated humanely. Pavel Friedmann was born in Prague on January 7, 1921. He was deported to Terezin on April 26, 1942 and later to Auschwitz, where he died on September 29, 1944.

 

The Butterfly

 

He was the last. Truly the last.

Such yellowness was bitter and blinding

Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.

That was his true colour.

And how easily he climbed, and how high,

Certainly, climbing, he wanted

To kiss the last of my world.

 

I have been here for seven weeks,

‘Ghettoized’.

Who loved me have found me,

Daisies call to me,

And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.

But I haven’t seen a butterfly here.

That last one was the last one.

There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.

Pavel Friedmann,

Theresienstadt, 4 June 1942.