Through the village
The clump of mud
thrown by Oleg Broz
who’d gone to the same school as me
whose father worked at the same bank as me.
covered the accursed yellow armband.
But I never
looked my tormentors in the eye.
I knew better
than to glare at an angry bull.
My throat grew thick
with swallowed tears
as I passed
hid in my pockets
as I passed
the German guards.
A monster that held Jews
in its barbed-wire belly.
Let out only
for slave wages,
or in death
I hurried home
looking past the barbed wire
to the horizon
An act of defiance.
A statement of hope.
A crime punishable by death.
Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things. But that is what Zlatka did, in 1944, for her best friend, Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, secretly creating an origami heart. Then she passed it to every girl at the work tables to sign with their hopes and wishes for happiness, for love, and most of all—for freedom.
Fania knew what that heart meant, for herself and all the other girls. And she kept it hidden, through the bitter days in the camp and through the death marches. She kept it always.
This novel is based on the true story of Fania and Zlatka, the story of the bond that helped them both to hope for the best in the face of the worst. Their heart is one of the few objects created in Auschwitz, and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.
- Margaret K. McElderry Books |
- 352 pages |
- ISBN 9781481439831 |
- September 2015 |
- Grades 7 and up
Read an Excerpt
Reading Group Guide
By Meg Wiviott
1. Write a card to a friend to tell them how much they mean to you.
2. Write down what you already know about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. What do you know about daily life in the camps?
3. Look up the word “dehumanization.” What does it mean to dehumanize people? What problems does it cause?
1. Using ghettos and concentration camps, the Nazis intended to destroy their prisoners’ humanity. How did the inmates of Auschwitz fight back?
2. Fania’s paper heart was real, and it is now displayed by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. It is one of the only artifacts purposefully created by prisoners at Auschwitz. What is so significant about the heart? What can we learn from it?
3. Why did Zlatka and her friends decide to make the heart for Fania? What were they risking by doing so?
4. Paper Hearts was deemed a “story about brave young women who refused to be victims and walked out of Auschwitz with their heads unbowed” by School Library Journal. How were Zlatka and Fania brave?
5. Zlatka tells Fania “your kindness makes me brave.” What does it mean to be kind in Auschwitz? Would it have been better for Fania to protect herself rather than look after Zlatka?
6. Do you think birthd see more