Determined to be Free


This piece was inspired by, mainly, Vlad Spiegelman, a survivor of the holocaust, George Takei, a former prisoner of the internment camps, and Toyo Miyatake, a Japanese photographer as well as a former prisoner of the internment camps. Though this piece may be based on a few people, it can represent any victims of those who suffered through the Japanese Internment camps and the Holocaust. The main theme of this piece can act for anyone who has experienced unjust imprisonment, whether it be mental or physical. For this drawing, I decided to draw a set of hands, breaking through handcuffs, representing imprisonment. I added the butterflies, making it appear as if they are coming out from the broken cuffs, like they have been waiting to come out. I chose butterflies because of the notion that butterflies represent freedom, especially in relation to the Holocaust. Butterflies are able to roam free, compared to those stuck behind barbed wire fences. The butterflies, as well as freedom, represent how after someone’s suffering years of imprisonment are over, and now that the cuffs are free, they are able to roam as well, go back into a world where they are not controlled. The butterflies are your freedom, they were locked in the cuffs, just as any prisoner is, and now that they are broken, you are free and the butterflies are able to spread their wings again.

School: Etude Middle School

Teacher: Maddi Spletter

Grade: 8th grade

Location: sheboygan, wisconsin, United States


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)