Writing Prompts - Rosemary May

Prompt 1

Please listen to Rosemary May's video story. In this source, Rosemary refers to several “coincidences” (or divine interventions) that kept her from a transport to Auschwitz (6:28). Elie Wiesel has stated that, “In Jewish history, there are no coincidences”.

After you have listened to her story, write an essay that both summarizes and analyzes how her life was influenced or changed in the camps as a result of these coincidences. Be sure to cite specific evidence to support your analysis.

Prompt 2

In the excerpt from A Garden of Eden in Hell, the author tells about the preparations that were made for the International Red Cross’ visit to the “model concentration camp” Theresienstadt. Rosemary talks about this in the transcript of her interview and points out that the Nazis created a facade for the inspection.

Write an essay that compares and contrasts the perceptions of Theresienstadt in these two sources. Include an analysis of each source’s point of view and the extent to which the evidence provides support to these points of view. Be sure to cite specific and thorough evidence from both sources to support your analysis.


Muller, Melissa, and Reinhard Piechocki. A Garden of Eden in Hell: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer. Pages 231, 232 London: Pan, 2008. Print.

Prompt 3

Rosemary was 14 -15 years old when she lived at Theresienstadt. This “model camp” processed 150,000 children, only 100 of whom lived. While the children were there, they created art and wrote poetry. Later a collection of these works was published, I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezín Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, editor Hana Volavkova. Compare and contrast Rosemary’s description of Theresienstadt with a poem or drawing from the powerpoint below:


Aahelpdesk Follow. (2009, May 21). Holocaust Butterfly. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from https://www.slideshare.net/aahelpdesk/holocaust-butterfly

Prompt 4

In Rosemary May’s interview (transcript) she told of a brief friendship:

“By the beginning of 1944, Holland was virtually free of Jews.  On one of the last [trains] to come in, where I had to be at the train, was Anne Frank, I met [her]. We became friends for just three days, that’s all. She was in Westerbork [a transit camp where Jews were assembled for transport, in the Netherlands]. Very sweet girl. She was same age as I. We could have been twins. And with her fame today, I kind of like to think of—we liked each other."

Using the link below, the video, and transcript of Rosemary May, compare and contrast the life of the two girls both before and during the Holocaust.

Remembering Anne Frank PDF

Prompt 5

Listen to Rosemary’s account at 7:17 in her interview.  Rosemary voices compassion for others stating: “We all want to live. But to do it at the expense of others is something I can’t comprehend.” Etty Hillesum, a Jew in Westerbork also writes about the concept of survival but not at the expense of other’s lives in her diary entry about a confused young Jewish boy who escapes from the Westerbork hospital to avoid deportation to Auschwitz.  “In a clumsy, childish way {he} took refuge in a tent. After a manhunt the boy is caught and a verdict is quickly passed:  Scores of others {are then forced to go on this transport as punishment} are being sent on the transport with the boy, including quite a few who had thought they were firmly at anchor here.  This system happens to believe in collective punishment.”  Compare and contrast both Rosemary and Etty’s views on self-preservation at Westerbork.  Be sure to cite strong and thorough evidence from both sources to support your analysis.

Hillesum, E., & Kidder, A. S. (2009). Etty Hillesum: essential writings. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Prompt 6

Rosemary might have seen performances in Westerbork of teen idols Johnny and Jones. They were a musical duo in the Netherlands before they were rounded up and sent to Westerbork. Later they were the subject of a play and documentary. View the film from the YouTube link below which has the original recordings of Johnny & Jones. Why do you think performances such as these were allowed at Westerbork?