I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Remembering The Children Who Perished In The Holocaust

Apr 9, 2018

WRTI honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and joins with those in our community who remember them on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and throughout the week.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Philadelphia composer Charles Davidson, is a setting of poems by children imprisoned in Theresienstadt; only 100 of the 15,000 children there survived. I Never Saw Another Butterfly has received more than 4,000 performances throughout the world, and is the subject of two PBS documentaries: The Journey of Butterfly and Butterfly Revisited.

In 1991, following the collapse of the communist regime and the birth of the Czech Republic, Butterfly was performed at a special ceremony in the town of Terezin, presided over by the new president, Václav Havel, among other dignitaries, and attended by an audience of Holocaust survivors to mark the 50th anniversary of the Germans' creation of the camp and ghetto.

Performances followed at Smetana Hall in Prague and the Jesuit Church in Brno. Charles Davidson is the cantor emeritus of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park.

"The Butterfly" by Pavel Friedman, June 1942 in Terezin. Born in Prague in 1921, he was deported to Theresienstadt and then Auschwitz in September 1944 where he was murdered.

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing against a stone ...
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high
It went away, I'm sure, because it wished to kiss the world good-bye.
For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this Ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
The butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here.
In the Ghetto.