Journey of a Butterfly
poems written in 1944 by children of Terezin
Pavel Friedmann
7. 1. 1921 - 29. 9. 1944
The Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
against a white stone...

Such, such a yellow Is carried lightly 'way up high.
It went away I'm sure because it wished to
kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here,
In the ghetto.

Der Schmetterling

Der letzte war’s, der allerletzte,
der satt und bitter blendend grelle
vielleicht wenn eine Sonnenträne irgendwo
auf weißem Stein erklingt

so war das Gelb
er trug sich schwebend in die Höhe
und stieg, gewiß wollt’ küssen er dort seine letzte Welt

und sieben Wochen leb ich da
ghettoisiert
hier fanden mich die Meinen
mich ruft der Löwenzahn
und auch der weiße Zweig im Hof auf der Kastanie
doch einen Schmetterling hab ich hier nicht gesehn

das war gewiß der allerletzte,
denn Schmetterlinge leben hier nicht
im Ghetto

From the Prose
of Petr Fischl (1929-1944)

We got used to standing in line at seven o'clock in the morning,
at 12 noon, and again at seven o'clock in the evening. We stood
in a long queue with a plate in our hand, into which they ladled a
little warmed-up water with a salty or a coffee flavor. Or else
they gave us a few potatoes. We got used to sleeping without a
bed, to saluting every uniform, not to walk on the sidewalks,
and then again to walk on the sidewalks. We got used to
undeserved slaps, blows and executions. We got accustomed
to seeing people die in their own excrement, to seeing piled-up
coffins full of corpses, to seeing the sick amidst dirt and filth and
to seeing the helpless doctors. We got used to that from time to
time, one thousand unhappy souls would come here and that,
from time to time, another thousand unhappy souls would go
away...

Night in the Ghetto
Unknown

Another day has gone for keeps
Into the bottomless pit of time
Again it has wounded a man, held captive
by his brethren.
After dusk, he longs for bandages,
For soft hands to shield the eyes
From all the horrors that stare by day.
But in the ghetto, darkness too is kind
To weary eyes which all day long
have had to watch.

Dawn crawls again along the ghetto streets
Embracing all who walk this way.
Only a car like a greeting from a long-gone world
Gobbles up the dark with fiery eyes.
That sweet darkness that falls upon the soul
And heals those wounds illuminated by the day...
Along the street come light and ranks of people
Like a long black ribbon, loomed with gold.

It All Depends on How You Look at It
by Miroslav Kosek (1932-1944)

Terezin is full of beauty.
It's in your eyes now clear
And through the street the tramp
Of many marching feet I hear.

In the ghetto at Terezin,
It looks that way to me,
Is a square kilometer of earth
Cut off from the world that's free.

Death, after all, claims everyone,
You find it everywhere.
It catches up with even those
Who wear their noses in the air.

The whole, wide world is ruled
With a certain justice, so
That helps perhaps to sweeten
The poor man's pain and woe.

Birdsong
Unknown

He doesn't know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and doesn't go out.
He doesn't know what the birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about.
That the world is full of loveliness

When dew drops sparkle in the grass,
and earth's aflood with morning light,
A black bird sings upon a bush
To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live!

Hey try to open up your heart to beauty.
Go to the woods some day
And weave a wreath of memory there.
Then if tears obscure your way,
You'll know how wonderful it is to be alive.

Terezin
by Hanus Hachenberg (1929-1943)

That bit of filth in dirty walls,
And all around the barbed wire
And thirty- thousand souls who sleep
And once will see their own blood spilled.

I once was a little child, three years ago.
That child who longed for other worlds.
But now I am no more a child
For I have learned to hate.
I am a grown- up person now, I have known fear.

Bloody words and a dead day then,
That's something different than boogie men!

But anyway, I still believe I only sleep today,
That I'll wake up a child again and start to laugh and play.

I'll go back to childhood sweet and like a briar rose,
Like a bell which wakes us from a dream,
Like a mother with an ailing child
Loves him with aching woman's love.

How tragic then, is youth which lives
With enemies, with gallows ropes,
How tragic then, for children on your lap
To say: This for the good, that for the bad.

Somewhere, far away out there, childhood sweetly sleeps.

Along that path among the trees,
There o'er that house
Which was once my pride and joy.
There my mother gave me birth into this world
So I could weep...

In the flame of candles by my bed, I sleep
And once perhaps I'll understand
That I was such a little thing,
As little as this song.

These thirty thousand souls who sleep
Among the trees will wake,
Open an eye
And because they see
A lot
They'll fall asleep again.

On a Sunny Evening
Unknown

On a purple sunshot evening under wideflow'ring chestnut trees,
upon the thresholdfull of dust
yesterday the days are all like these trees
flower forth in beauty,
lovely too their very wood all gnarled and old,
that I am half afraid to peer into their crowns of green and gold.
The sun has made a veil of gold so lovely that my body aches,
above the heavens shriek with blue
convinced I've smiled by some mistake.
The world's a-bloom and wants to smile,
I want to fly but where, how high? I want to fly.
If in barbed wire things can bloom, why couldn't I?
I will not die, I will not die.