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Butterflies Do Not Live Here and On Shoes, Braid and Dummy

Jana Rogoff

Abstract


In 1958 and 1961, two documentaries on the Holocaust were released in Czechoslovakia: Motýli tady nežijí / Butterflies Do Not Live Here by Miro Bernat and O botičkách, copánku a dudlíku / On Shoes, Braid and Dummy by Drahoslav Holub. Both of these films employed drawings and paintings made by Jewish children imprisoned in Theresienstadt between 1941 and 1945. Apart from using the same material, the films share similarities in style as both directors worked in the tradition stemming from the interwar avant-garde practices of cinematic montage and experimented with elements of animation. However, within these similar coordinates, each chose a different approach to the material. Reception of the films was also starkly different. The former received a good deal of international attention and praise, the latter was barely noticed. From today’s perspective, they are comparably forgotten. Film-historical analysis of the works has been missing in the Theresienstadt film studies context as well as in studies of documentary film on Holocaust. This article seeks to redeem that gap by examining the history of the films’ production as well as the history of their reception by the public, press and official cultural establishment. At the same time, it explores the films’ cultural-political significance in the context of late 1950s and early 1960s Czechoslovakia and considers the factors that lead to the contrasting histories of reception. The analysis is based on original research at the Archives of the Jewish Museum in Prague, on contemporary press critic and oral history sources including two interviews with the survivors who participated on making of the films, Helga Hošková-Weissová and Anna Hyndráková, conducted by the author throughout 2019.

Keywords


Miro Bernat; Jiří Weil; Hana Volavková; Drahoslav Holub; Karel Reiner; William Bukový; Theresienstadt; ghetto; children’s drawings; Czechoslovakia; Holocaust; documentary film; compilation film; animation; reception history.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17892/app.2019.0009.180



Apparatus. ISSN 2365-7758