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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Survivor Park In Lodz

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    The city of Lodz had once been the second largest Jewish community in all of Poland. Today there is hardly a Jewish presence in the city, with only about 300 active members. For years after the Shoah there had been very little activity, and little attention was paid to the survivors.

 

      In recent years there has been a push to correct this wrong with new monuments and plans for research centers. The discovery of the Radegast Station from which the victims were sent to their deaths was a catalyst for this awakening. During the 60th anniversary of the destruction of the Ghetto, thousands of people came from around the world to memorialize the victims. This shows that people did not forget what had happened there and would rectify the lack of educational facilities such as monuments and learning centers.

 

      I recently wrote about the Radegast Station and how it was restored to a unique and fitting memorial to those who passed through the station on the way to their deaths. But that was not the only plans the city had for the permanent commemoration of the Shoah. A park has been established in the area of the former Ghetto to honor the survivors.

 


 

      The park, an impressive site, covering 15 acres located in the area that comprised the Ghetto, includes an area of 387 trees planted by survivors. The saplings consist of, birches, oaks, larches, maples, and ashes. Each tree was numbered and registered under the name of the survivor who planted it. Survivors who visit Lodz in the future are invited to continue this ceremony and plant a tree in his or her honor.

 

      The park has a walk with the names of survivors, leading to a mound from which most of the city can be seen. There is also a large Magen David with a stream flowing below it.

 

      There are plans the have a study center for people to come and try to understand what happened there more then 60 years ago. In addition, there is a monument to Poles who saved Jews during the Shoah. Czeslaw Bielcki and DiM84 Dom I Miasto designed the monument.

 

      Halina Elczewska, a survivor of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, first thought of the concept for the Survivors Park. But the park never would have been established if not for the constant prodding of the president of Lodz, Mr. Jerzy Kropiwnicki.

 

      There are still many other projects being undertaken by the city of Lodz, including the marking of significant sites related to the Shoah and other ongoing educational projects. The citizens of the city have taken an interest in the projects, with much success in overcoming stereotyping and anti-Semitism.

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