Astronaut Drew Feustel, who is currently living and working aboard the International Space Station, took with him to space a copy of a special drawing entitled “Moon Landscape” which was created by a Jewish Czech boy named Petr Ginz while incarcerated in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, during World War II. The drawing depicts how Earth would look from the surface of the moon. Petr was fascinated by science fiction and inspired by his favorite author, Jules Verne, to draw and write stories about a far off world he would never visit. At the age of 16, Petr lost his life at Auschwitz.
A replica of the drawing was first flown to space in 2003 by the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor. Ramon flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, and in a horrible tragedy, he and his six crew mates lost their lives when the shuttle broke apart during re-entry.
Feustel said, “Ilan Ramon and I worked together for a short period of time prior to 2003. I was touched when I discovered that Ilan planned to take Petr Ginz’s illustration to space, as I have close family and friends in the Czech Republic. I feel honored to commemorate Petr, Ilan and all the victims of the Holocaust in this way.”
Each astronaut gets a small amount of cargo space so they can bring items of personal significance with them for their mission in space. Astronauts frequently bring along pictures of loved ones and other mementos. Feustel included the replica image among his personal items.
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center located in Jerusalem, presented Drew Feustel with the drawing on February 1, 2018, the date that would have been Petr Ginz’s 90th birthday and the 15th anniversary of the Columbia disaster. The museum maintains the original “Moon Landscape” drawing.
Holocaust Remembrance Day, recognized on April 12, is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which those lost in the Holocaust are memorialized. Israel marks this day with ceremonies, and Feustel also recorded a video message that will be played at Yad Vashem.