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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Survivor Park In Lodz

    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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More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/survivor-park-in-lodz/2007/01/17/

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