The Crocus Project: February Update

The Crocus Project is an Irish initiative active across Europe, with more than 100,000 young people from Ireland and ten European countries taking part. Our goal is to reach more than 1.5 million crocuses in bloom.

Holocaust Education Ireland supplies yellow crocus bulbs for young people aged ten years and over to plant in memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust and the thousands of other children who were victims of Nazi atrocities.

The yellow flowers recall the stars that Jews were forced to wear under Nazi rule. Crocuses bloom around the end of January at the same time as international Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. The 27th of January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

On Holocaust Memorial Day we can honour the survivors of these regimes of hatred and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today. Holocaust Memorial Day is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and to recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own, it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in the Ireland; we are not at risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future.

On 27th of January, students from our Transition Year, Pre IB classes and Leaving Certificate and IBDP classes participated in a remembrance ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day. They shared poems, reflections and symbols of Jewish faith and culture. They shared a drama entitled “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”, performed by students from Poland, Ireland, the US, Germany, Spain and Austria to reflect the universal innocence of childhood and the desire to humanise the children of the Holocaust.

Survivor by Primo Levi, read by Seán Halpin

Once more he sees his companions' faces
Livid in the first faint light,
Gray with cement dust,
Nebulous in the mist,
Tinged with death in their uneasy sleep.
At night, under the heavy burden
Of their dreams, their jaws move,
Chewing a non-existant turnip.
'Stand back, leave me alone, submerged people,
Go away. I haven't dispossessed anyone,
Haven't usurped anyone's bread.
No one died in my place. No one.
Go back into your mist.
It's not my fault if I live and breathe,
Eat, drink, sleep and put on clothes.'

Stripped, read by Julia Bloecher

First they stripped me of my nation. 
I peered out of my window 
Watching as the Swastikas began to sway 
Amongst the gentle, Polish breezes, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

Then they stripped me of my freedom. 
I longed for the past 
While watching the patch be sewn 
Into the fabric of my clothing. 
Standing in the shadow of my mother, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

Then they stripped me of my home. 
I lightly sobbed into my father's arm 
Watching as our house began to bleed away 
Along with the memories of my past. 
Sitting in the back of this truck, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

Then they stripped me of my independence. 
I whispered a plea of sadness under my breath 
Wondering why they forced more people into our new home 
Within this blackened and unholy pit 
Fittingly named a "ghetto" 
Standing amongst my remaining belongings, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

Then they stripped me of humanity. 
I winced from a sharp pain 
While being shoved into a cattle car 
Disoriented by the darkness and stench. 
Sobbing in a curled position, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

Then they stripped me of family. 
I shouted as loud as possible 
Clinging to my father 
As they stripped him away from me. 
Flung into the drying mud, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

Then they stripped me of my mother. 
I tried to scream but my soul was gone. 
She watched as they drug my withering body away. 
I felt as if my existence would eternally stayed within her. 
Watching as the iron door to the dimly lit chamber was pulled to, 
I was unsure of the events to come. 

More withering bodies surrounded me. 
The showers began above me. 
The screams echoed around me. 
I was sure of the events to come. 

They had come. 

Take off Our Shoes, read by Julia Marti

Our first task in approaching
Another people
Another culture
Another religion
is to take off our shoes
For the place we are approaching is holy.
As we may find ourselves
Treading on another's dream
More serious still, we may forget...
... that God was there
before we arrived.