Friday, April 9, 2010
One of the stories students collected, from a concentration camp survivor, was as follows:
The winter of 1940 was particularly harsh, and we all suffered from the cold. Most people died, of hunger, cold, and various sicknesses. Because we didn't have coats, my mother decided to sew coats for my sister and I used the blankets we had brought. Nobody in the camp had thread. We gathered the clothes of those who had died, and removed the stitches from their clothing.
Buttons were worth a lot, more than expensive jewelry. Each button was guarded like a treasure. Those who had buttons were “rich.” A button could be exchanged for a piece of bread, a bowl of soup, a needle, or even paper and a pencil. Most importantly, whoever had buttons stayed warm in the winter, because a button could keep a shirt, sweater, or jacket closed.
After a long time the jackets were ready. The only thing missing was buttons. The only thing of value my mother had left was a silver thimble she had received from her mother, who had made aliyah to the land of Israel two years earlier. With this treasure, my mother hoped to fulfill her wish: buttons for the two coats for my sister and I. In the end she found two red buttons and two black ones.
My sister and I wore those coats when we were freed from the camp.
Buttons have a special significance for me. A small, simple thing like a button can teach us that nothing can be taken for granted, and to rejoice in what life offers us.