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Innocent Voices

Author John Cech
Air Date 9/9/2002

Innocent Voices Transcript

This week, as we commemorate the anniversary of September 11th, we adults have been thinking about some of the ways that children try to understand and cope with these and other shocking and saddening events. One heartbreaking example of how children did manage the trauma of truly terrifying circumstances can be found in the Holocaust of World War II.

The music that you’ve heard is from a CD entitled “Innocent Voices: The Verse of Terezin’s Children.” Terezin was the “model” concentration camp — meant to show the world how humane the Nazis were, though many thousands perished in the camp, and it was merely a transit point for other death camps. It was also a major stop for children, and 15,000 young people died in Terezin or were shipped to others where they lost their lives.

But many of the children came in contact with a remarkable woman named Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, an artist who encouraged and taught youngsters at Terezin, to draw and write poetry, to use art as a way to transcend, if only for a few minutes, their unbearable destiny. Thousands of the pictures and poems the children wrote and drew were hidden under the floorboards of one of the barracks and found after the war. Selections from this priceless record are available in books like I Never Saw Another Butterfly; We Are Children Just the Same; and Fireflies in the Dark. And now we can also hear their words, set to the original music of John Federico, on this unforgettable recording. And what the children teach us is that, from even these horrors can come extraordinary awareness, courage, and a strong, pure, overwhelming beauty.

Posted in Music