Introduced by Gloria Lee


This collection of nine poems written by children while interned at Terezin Concentration Camp were selected as the lyrics for a cantata composed by Robert Convery in memory of all children who perished in the Holocaust. It was first performed in NYC, April of 1991.

The composer wrote in his notes that the ordering of the poems in the cantata demonstrates a spiritual transformation, beginning with the naive state of entry into the concentration camp, the quick and brutal confrontation with the reality of the camp; a sense of having one's soul stripped from one's body; a cool vision of the reality of the camp; and finally, a transcendence of that reality, an affirmation of life even in the face of certain death.

The cantata is unified musically by use of a cantus firmus, the melody of one song divided to provide a melodic theme for each section. The Jewish folksong of faith the Ani Maamin, the one chanted by the Jews as they marched to the gas chambers, is the cantus firmus and the tune would be recognizable by anyone familiar with this song.

Terezin was unique among concentration camps. This was the the fake city of safety, the ruse to fool the world. For anyone who does not know the full story of it, I am giving below some links which briefly describe the life there. The determined preservation of music, art, education and all that creates culture amidst these appalling conditions is beyond remarkable.

Two hundred thousand persons passed through there, fifteen thousand children. Only 132 of those children were known to have survived.

These poems and children's drawings were hidden at Terezin inside mattresses and stuffed in cracks between the walls of houses. They were recovered after the war. Many of these other poems and drawings are collected in a book which was published by the Holocaust Museum, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly."

The Poems:

Terezin Home
Poem 1
Poem 2
Poem 3
Poem 4
Poem 5
Poem 6
Poem 7
Poem 8
Poem 9

Thanks to Gloria Lee for providing all the material for the Terezin web pages.




Phillips Exeter Academy | Performance Opportunities - they have a CD recording available from the music department. (However, this link does not always work.)

Contact: Gloria Lee:
gleelee [at] comcast.net