Flowers Bring Hope, Joy and Beauty

Dancing Sunflower detail

 Several years ago I visited the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, it had been redesigned and it had a new format for the viewers, one that led them through the events of history in a twisty, turny path. I had been there before and not much was new to me, the sadness was the same and surrealistic quality of this historic event pervaded. On this visit, I came upon an exhibit that I’d never seen before, one that has stayed with me ever since, one that spoke to me more than the others.  

Needle felted Dancing Sunflower Doll

 I can’t remember their names and I can’t find anything about this exhibit on the internet, but I remember the story. Prisoners were given various jobs, one Jewish prisoner was given the job of toy maker, the prisoner’s creative talents had spared her life. Day in and day out her job was to make beautiful toys for the German children. One of the toys that she made, she kept hidden away; she had made a flower doll for her daughter whom she hoped to see again one day. The old, ragged cloth doll was displayed in a small glass case amongst many other tragic stories in the museum. The history of the flower doll was written on a small plaque, it pointed out some of the harshest realities of the war, the ones that involved the children. The woman’s daughter did not survive the war and she never received the flower doll that her mother made for her. 

Flower friends

 Flowers and toys seem out of place is such a horrible setting and I try not to think about the realities of the flower doll story, lest they take me to a dark place that I don’t want to be. I’ve always wanted to make a flower doll, not only because of the flower doll story, but because I think flowers bring people joy, hope and beauty and all of us need those things, no matter what our situation. 

Chrysanthemum Flower Doll
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2 thoughts on “Flowers Bring Hope, Joy and Beauty”

  1. As a German, I find myself in the dark place you are avoiding pretty much straight away. I see the little girl in the bright red coat from Schindlers List and the smiling face of Roberto Benigni in La Vita E Bella, not to mention a certain striped pyjama. You will note that I prefer referring to movies rather than “real life footage”, because a movie seems just that little bit less real, which makes it a little bit more bearable.
    I am 32 and even my grandparents were too young to have anything to do with the horrors of the Third Reich, but it still affects me a lot more than any other historical or recent atrocity committed by man.
    This post has added another powerful image to my imagination- the flower doll. Writing this, tears are running down my face, but I am so thankful you checked this little piece of humanity into my inner library.
    It puts things into perspective, and not being spiritual at all (!), I will make sure to plant some special flowers this spring to commemorate a girl who never received her flower doll. If there is any justice, she will enjoy them from wherever she might be now.

  2. What an honest, beautiful letter you’ve written, it is very touching. Thanks for letting me know how you relate to this sad story. I hope your flowers grow big and colorful and make the people who see them happy!

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