This week we devoted time within our chapel services to commemorate the 75th Holocaust Memorial Day.
Over the last few months, teachers and pupils, led by Mr Baker, have been researching and creating a wonderful installation named ‘300 Butterflies’. The display has been created in support of ‘The Butterfly Project’ an international project aimed at educating, commemorating and honouring the 1.5 million children whose lives were lost in the Holocaust, using the lessons of the Holocaust to educate children about the dangers of hatred and bigotry and cultivating empathy and social responsibility.
The Butterfly Project’s inspiration in turn comes from the diaries of Anne Frank and a poem called The Butterfly, written by a child during the Holocaust and the documentary film Paper Clips. The project calls upon participants to produce 1.5 million ceramic butterflies worldwide, displayed as permanent symbols of resilience and hope, with each butterfly remembering a life lost too early and honouring the survivors.
This week we have been devoting time within our chapel services to commemorate the 75th Holocaust Memorial Day. Truro School’s project ‘300 Butterflies’ is a poignant installation designed around three components:
The Gnarled Olive Tree
Olive trees are universally recognised as a symbol of peace, and specifically in Jewish culture where if features on the national emblem of Israel, as a symbol that underpins their values. It also harks back to the story of Noah’s Ark where the dove returns with an olive branch, signifying the putting down of roots, and man’s connection with the earth; a sense of permanence and belonging. The tree was hand-picked from an Olive grove in Spain. It is reported to be approximately 100-150 years old, making it around 75 years old when the Holocaust took place, hence its gnarly nature!
The Rough Pine Base
The base was inspired by images of roughly built huts and overcrowded bed platforms. The wood represents the millions of pine trees that were felled. It’s shape, texture and crude appearance symbolises the harshness of their treatment and the brutality of the camps.
The tree is decorated with 300 butterflies. They depict the fragility of life, hope and transformation. Each butterfly represents 5000 of the 1.5 million children that were murdered. Each butterfly represents 35000 of the 11 million total that were murdered across all races and social groups that were discriminated against. They symbolise the drawings that were carved by the fingernails of the children in the camps, a mark of their time on earth, and the hope that they too would transform from chrysalis to butterfly and transcend from dark to light.
75th Holocaust Memorial
Following our chapel services, 300 Butterflies has been transferred to Truro Cathedral to feature in a special evensong on Monday.
Over the next week, the school’s Amnesty Group will be following up on the theme and have provided tutor groups with information packs to reflect on.
On Wednesday 29 January, the History Department will be showing the critically acclaimed and award-winning film, Conspiracy, a BBC/HBO collaboration made for the 2001 Holocaust Memorial Day. The 96-minute film, featuring Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci, dramatises the infamous Wansee Conference of 20 January 1942, at which plans for the Nazi ‘Final Solution’ were made. The film’s subject material means that it is rated ’16’ – meaning the event is appropriate only for current 5th Years and Sixth-Formers, plus interested parents. Seating in the Burrell Theatre is of course limited and to avoid disappointment, students and parents are respectfully requested to signal their attendance in advance, by e-mailing Dr Spring at [email protected].
Following the film, the Amnesty Group will be hosting the Whole School Assembly on 31 January to continue educating, commemorating and honouring the memorial.
Later in the year the olive tree will be planted as a centrepiece for a small reflection garden. The garden will be used by staff and pupils to provide a quiet space for reflection, a place to value friendships and appreciate life. It will be planted with wild flowers to invite bees, and decorated with ceramic butterflies to remember those who lost their lives.