More than 200,000 buttons have been donated to a project creating a memorial to the 1.5million children who perished in the Holocaust, by communities in Bushey, Watford and Elstree, as well as pupils at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School.
B’s Buttons, which launched in September, was started after a student at The Lakes School in Windermere, Cumbria, asked to come up with a meaningful way of understanding the sheer scale of mass-murder that took place during the Second World War.
She had been inspired by a visit from survivor Arek Hersh, one of 300 displaced children, known collectively as “The Boys”, who were given a new home after the war on the Calgarth Estate in the Lake District, where The Lakes School now resides.
Alongside her history teacher, Laura Oram, they came up with the idea of collecting 1.5 million buttons, to reflect the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust.
Earlier this month, the project passed the one million mark, with many more buttons from around the world still being sent to The Lakes School.
On Sunday, 8 July, scores of volunteers at Bushey Synagogue counted 143, 900 buttons and were joined by Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper, one of the surviving members of The Boys and Abigail Mann, from St Albans, who has helped spread the word and organise button collections at museums, schools and synagogues throughout the UK.
The buttons were donated by members of Bushey United, Watford United and Elstree Liberal Synagogue.
Collection boxes were also set up at The Kelman Deli, Bushey, which counted 6,000 buttons, and Flax’s Foods, Bushey, which donated 4,860 buttons.
Meanwhile, Year 6 students at HJPS, Radlett counted 51,335 buttons.
Mum-of-three Gabi Rolfe, from Bushey, helped organise the count at Bushey United and started a collection at HJPS, where her children attend.
She said: “The year 6 pupils have been studying the Holocaust as part of their World War Two Shoah week and the B’s buttons project was a fantastic way to involve the children.
“They also designed ideas for the memorial, which they will be sending to The Lakes School.”
Natasha Collins, acting deputy head added: “All the children at HJPS were really excited to bring in the buttons and take part. It was a great team effort from the school community.
“We feel proud of our contribution and are delighted that we have taken part in something so important.”
Once 1.5 million buttons have been collected, they will be turned into a permanent Holocaust memorial sited on the grounds at The Lakes School, next to a sapling brought from Auschwitz that was planted in the school gardens last year.
Listen to the Jewish Views podcast:
- B's Buttons
- The Lakes School
- Lake District
- The Boys
- Hertsmere Jewish Primary School
- Calgarth Estate
- Laura Oram
- Bushey United
- Watford United
- Elstree Liberal
- Zigi Shipper
- Abigail Mann
- Arek Hersh
- The Kelman Deli
- Flax’s Foods
- Gabi Rolfe