Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Holocaust Survivor's Story through Needlepoint

Anything that involves the Holocaust or genocide always piques my interest - especially in a world where genocide still happens, and where we are getting further and further way from those that happened in the 20th century.

 I study the subject, and I'm currently writing my senior undergraduate honors thesis on gender representation in Holocaust memorials. I also went on a life-changing trip to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland in May 2011 with my college, in order to see some of these places for myself and also to gather research (...and also have fun in Europe).

(Personal photo - a memorial at Theresienstadt concentration camp)

About a year ago, I posted about a quilt that a former student at my college had made to memorialize the victims in her own way. I had some great responses to that post, so I knew I had to share this article when I saw it.

Here's the article, over at Facing History and Ourselves. It's about Netty Vanderpol, who was just a girl of middle school age when WWII began. She was taken from her Amsterdam home with her family to Westerbork and then Theresienstadt (Terezin), which is now in the Czech Republic, and a place I personally visited. Her story is difficult to read because of the topic, but if you have a chance, you should read it. The pictures of her art are just stunning (I don't have permission to repost photos from the site, so you should follow the link to see them).
(Personal photo - Terezin concentration camp)

This part of the article at the end was really enlightening for me: 
"Even after she completed the works, Netty did not show them publicly for 10 years. Now, she prefers to let her art do the talking, she still rarely speaks about her experiences. Today, she continues with her needlework, but her pieces do not focus on the Holocaust. “To a certain extent it freed me,” she said of 'Every Stitch a Memory'  (her set of artwork). “I would look at a piece after it was finished and say, ‘I have told my story.’ I am at peace with this."


I'd love to hear your reactions, and if you've heard/seen other ways in which art of any kind has been used to communicate a message about genocide or war, I'd be interested to hear.


  1. Jess I was in Munich, Germany 2 summers ago for a study abroad. There seemed to be memorials everywhere. In the Hofgarten was a memorial to the White Rose society that touched me as everyday a white rose was left.

  2. Jess, Have you seen the movie PaperClip? If the Holocaust is of interest to you, you HAVE to see this. Let me know what you think.

  3. I have nothing to add but just want to say I enjoyed reading your post, so interesting.

  4. I read the article and I am floored as I am whenever I read a Holocaust story like this one. Extremely heartbreaking. She was a survivor though and able to speak out through her art work and her hubby is phenomenal!! Great ending!

    Thanks for sharing Jess:):):):):)


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