Alan Brown like many
Jews, learned early of the Holocaust. Brown, who now has a 9-year-old of
his own, said at this son's age he had already met Holocaust survivors,
seen films and photographs and studied concentration camps and the
murder of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.
His son Adam received his own vivid lesson
Sunday on the extent of the horror that also led the the murders of 5
million Gypsies, homosexuals and religious and political
He took part Sunday in creating what will be a
massive, five-story high, sculpture of an upended butterfly that will be
built entirely of 11 million aluminum can tab tops--each one
representing a civilian killed by the Nazis.
The project is the work of a New York artist,
Jeffrey Schrier. He has been working on this memorial for five years,
relying on School children around the country to help build the aluminum
"feathers." In return he appears in their classrooms or
synagogues to tell the story of the pull-tabs and of one of his heroes,
Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat credited with saving 20,000
Hungarian Jews form the death camps.
The 11 million tabs were collected by the junior
high school students of Kevin Daugherty in Mahomet, Ill. Daugherty was
trying to give his students a tangible understanding of what it meat
that 6 million people had been killed and simply to have them comprehend
the vastness of the number, so he had them collecting the pull-tabs and
pop-tops of the drink cans.
Students around the world learned of the student
project and the number easily grew from the 6 million to the 11
Schrier learned of
the student project just as he was working on a piece based on
Wallenberg that had been commissioned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
The butterfly had been an earlier incarnation of his
Wallenberg proposal, which ended up being a giant representation of the Swedish
passports that the diplomat forged and gave to the Hungarians. Butterfly
was the title of a poem written by Pavel Friedmann who died in a
On Sunday at Temple Sholom students threaded
613 of the can tops onto steel cable then wove the string onto a pole to
form the "feathers." The room had the boisterous energy that a
hands-on project generates. The students are well-versed in Holocaust
history and answered questions about Jewish stories and
"They are people," said Taylor Bliszcz, a
10-year-old from Chino Hills, even as he paused in his race to get his
tabs on as fast as possible.
Betsi Katz, who teaches Sunday school at Temple
Sholom, organized Schrier's workshop. Picking up the tabs, her checks reddened
as she described the meaning in the piece of aluminum.
Schrier has enlisted 30,000 students like those
in Ontario on Sunday to build the feathers.
The sculpture will be presented at the
Holocaust Memorial and Education Center of Nassau Country on Long Island