An act of defiance.
A statement of hope.
A crime punishable by death.
On December 12, 1944, locked inside Auschwitz, Polish teenager Fania turned twenty. After spending a year in a concentration camp, Fania didn’t expect her birthday to even be remembered - but her best friend, Zlatka, risked everything to make her a birthday present, a paper heart.
Simply making the heart - or carrying it - could get either of them killed.
The heart was signed by many of their friends, bearing notes in Polish, German, French, and Hebrew that announced "When you get old, put your glasses on your nose, take this album in your hand and read my signature again,“ and “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” It was an act of great sacrifice and love for a friend.
Less than 40 days later, they began the Death March from Auschwitz to Ravensbruck, and from Ravensbruck to freedom. Fania carried the heart under her arm the whole time. And survived.
Fania donated the heart to the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center in 1988, where it is a featured piece of their exhibit. You can read more about the story of Fania and Zlatka Meg Wiviott’s Paper Hearts, coming September 2015