The Havre High School drama department is looking at the Holocaust of World War II, telling the story of a Jewish child who was one of the few survivors of a Nazi prison.
“I Never Saw Another Butterfly, ” Czechoslavak writer Celeste Raspanti’s 1994 play, opens at the Havre High School Theatre at 7:30 p. m. today through Saturday.
The play tells the story of Raja Englanderova, a survivor of the ghetto Terezin, also known by its German name of Theresienstadt, in northwestern Czechoslovakia.
Nazis set up the ghetto as a relocation site for Jews the Nazi leadership moved there from locations in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Holland, Hungary, Poland and Denmark, using it as a “model Jewish city” which they displayed to the Red Cross during the war to show they were not mistreating the relocated people.
The city contained parks, grassy areas and flower beds, concert venues and statues — and immense overcrowding, hunger and disease for the inmates, who were originally mostly prominent citizens and veterans of World War I, many of them highly decorated.
The ghetto was a stop for most of the Jews taken there en route to extermination camps including the infamous Auschwitz. More than 140,000 Jews were sent to Terezin by the Nazis, with 33,000 of those dying in Terezin, many from hunger, stress, disease and an epidemic of typhus, and 88,000 deported to extermination camps — 3,000 survived those camps. Of the others, 19,000 survived Terezin or were transferred to neutral countries.
Terezin was liberated by the Soviet army May 9, 1945.
The play takes its name from a poem by Pavel Friedman, a young man who died at Terezin. A collection of art and poetry by children who were at the camp also is named “I Never Saw Another Butterfly. ”
Admission to the Havre High production, directed by Angela Pratt, costs $5 for adults, $4 for students and senior citizens and $2 for children from kindergarten through eighth grade.