On a wintry Sunday afternoon, about 40 volunteers planted 2,000 daffodil bulbs at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in memory of children killed in the Holocaust.
The group of volunteers who participated in the symbolic daffodil planting at the entrance to the center included Thomas Buergenthal, one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. Already, Am Yisrael Chai, a local Holocaust awareness and education organization, has planted 177,000 daffodils in downtown Atlanta (and 280,000 around the world, which include thousands in Canada, Poland and the Czech Republic) in memory of the estimated 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust, as well as in support of children suffering in humanitarian crises in the world today. (For more information about the Daffodil Project, go to daffodilproject.net.)
The Daffodil Project was started in the fall of 2010 with a planting of 1,800 at Congregation Beth Tefillah in Sandy Springs.
“It is important for me that more and more people know what happened to us so it doesn’t happen to other people in different parts of the world,” said Buergenthal, who was moved to tears while planting bulbs and touring the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Andrea Videlefsky, head of Am Yisrael Chai, said a daffodil was chosen because of its shape and color.
“It is yellow, which is the color of the remembrance, and also in the shape of a star, which is symbolic of the star the Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust,” she said.
Daffodils, she said, return with a burst of color each spring, representing resilience and hope. The daffodils, she added, “remind us to take action for the future.”
About 25,000 daffodils are planted in the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and more than 26,000 are planted throughout synagogues and schools in Atlanta. The nonprofit organization hopes to plant 1.5 million daffodils around the globe.
Buergenthal, now 81 and living in the District of Columbia area, was also the keynote speaker at a Holocaust awareness event, Courage and Compassion — A Lucky Child Survives Auschwitz, on Sunday evening in Sandy Springs. This event organized by Am Yisrael Chai was free and open to the public. More than 900 people attended.
Buergenthal is considered one of the world’s leading international human rights experts. He served on the International Court of Justice in the Hague from 2000 to 2010. His long academic career includes an endowed professorship at Emory University in the 1980s while also serving as director of the human rights program at the Carter Center.