web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Nearly 70 Years After War, Holocaust Memorials Continue To Proliferate

CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

No earth was moved last month at the groundbreaking of one of the nation’s newest Holocaust memorials.

Instead, the gatherers stood silently, symbolic shovels in hand, on the immaculate lawn where the privately funded $400,000 monument will soon rise. A succession of speakers delivered somber homilies remembering one of the darkest chapters in human history.

“It was an absolutely unbelievable world that I lived in,” survivor Fred Lorber was quoted as saying by local media. “It’s hard for me to describe, but whatever time I think about it, it’s there. It never left my memory.”

The construction of a new Holocaust memorial is hardly unusual. But this was Des Moines, Iowa, home to a small Jewish community and an even smaller number of survivors.

Just 2,800 Jews live in the capital of the Hawkeye State, among them a rapidly diminishing number of survivors like Lorber. Yet local authorities, along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines and Jewish philanthropists, nevertheless felt it important for the city to set aside prominent public space near the state capitol to remember the victims of Nazi persecution and their liberators.

“As time went by and as the last survivors pass away, the study of the Holocaust in the school districts began to wane and the Jewish community felt the memory of it needed to be perpetuated,” said Mark Finkelstein, the head of the federation.

The Jews of Des Moines are hardly the first to push for such a project.

Though precise numbers are difficult to come by, Holocaust studies experts say museums and monuments dedicated to the genocide have proliferated across the United States over the past two decades.

Major American cities typically have at least one Holocaust memorial, but now many midsized ones do too, like Richmond, Va., Charleston, S.C., and El Paso, Texas. Memorials are even found in relatively small cities, like Whitwell, Tenn., and Palm Desert, Calif. And more are in the works, including a recently approved monument designed by architect Daniel Libeskind to be built on the statehouse grounds in Columbus, Ohio.

The phenomenon is also not a uniquely American one. Norway, a country with only 1,300 Jews, has two Holocaust memorials.

“There are probably more than three hundred Holocaust study centers and museums around the country, and the number of memorials would be hard to track down because of all the small ones,” said James Young, a professor of English and Judaic studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and the author of a book about Holocaust remembrance.

“Just in Manhattan, there are eighty. Multiply that and you probably have thousands.”

Young says the single most important factor driving the construction of Holocaust memorials nearly seventy years after the war is the initiative of elderly survivors. With the youngest of them nearing 80, survivors are eager to educate future generations about their suffering and, in so doing, give meaning to their lives.

“It doesn’t take a big community,” Young said. “If someone is inspired to build a memorial site, it is possible to do so.”

One such person was Eva Mozes Kor, 79, who along with her twin sister was subjected to savage medical experiments carried out by Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele.

In 1995, Kor founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, a small city in western Indiana where she has lived since the 1950s, with the aim of sharing her story with her neighbors.

Each year about 75,000 mostly non-Jewish children visit the center from nearby rural areas of western and central Indiana. Kor and two other survivors, including her husband, present lectures to the young visitors.

“I want to teach children in the world,” she said. “I think [the Holocaust] is not a Christian thing, not a Jewish thing, it’s a human thing.”

For Jewish leaders, Holocaust memorializing is often a way to build community around a non-religious issue.

“The creation of a Holocaust memorial is likely something everybody can cooperate on,” said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish studies at Brandeis University.

“The minute you touch Israel, it’s divisive. But for Jews and Christians to get together to commemorate the Holocaust, that can bring them together, especially in smaller communities.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Nearly 70 Years After War, Holocaust Memorials Continue To Proliferate”

  1. Tim Upham says:

    Germany this year, finally created a Porajmos Memorial in Berlin for the Roma and Sinti people.

  2. Beau Howard says:

    More jew worship from the treasonous "shabbos goy".

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israel's favorite circus opens its 20th session Tuesday.
Knesset Opens the Tent to its 20th Circus
Latest News Stories
Border Police officers arrest Arab rioter on Land Day riot at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on Monday.

The Arabs rolled burning tires and three rocks at soldiers at the central Gaza security fence.

The Histadrut national labor union and the Federation of Israeli Employers have agreed to raise the minimum wage to 5,300 shekels ($1,334) by 2017, approximately half the average salary in Israel. The employers and the union previously agreed to a three-stage hike in the minimum wage. The latest agreement adds a fourth stage whole pegging […]

Israel's favorite circus opens its 20th session Tuesday.

The clowns are back in town while ringmaster Netanyahu tries to tame the beasts.

One-third of polled Republicans see President Obama as the biggest imminent threat to the USA.

A Reuters poll shows that America is increasingly polarized, especially about President Obama.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued to lash out at a possible “bad deal” with Iran Monday and said, “The agreement being formulated in Lausanne sends a message that there is no price for aggression and on the contrary – that Iran’s aggression is to be rewarded.” Netanyahu said in a statement: The moderate and responsible […]

Release of a gag order reveals that the Israeli citizen and a friend traveled to Syria last year.

Lausanne has become the center stage of act that would put the world’s best novelist or Broadway producer to shame.

Inspections of Iranian nuclear sites won’t uncover possible nuclear activity in North Korea, or even China.

Colel Chabad and IFCJ have made sure thousands of Israelis will celebrate Passover with good food this year.

Former Secy of State Hillary Clinton says she wants to see US-Israeli relations on a “constructive footing” and Israel negotiating with the PA.

A rocket launched from Gaza landed in the Sinai, in the Egyptian half of the town of Rafiach (Rafah).

Rami Levi’s operating and net profit suffered from a 12% increase in the costs of selling, marketing, general and administrative expenses.

Matzah baking isn’t all just hard work. Sometimes it can be fun too.

Today on the Hebrew calendar is the 10th of Nisan – the day the People of Israel crossed into their new Land.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert found guilty of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial in the ‘Talansky Affair.’

Iran suddenly refuses to transfer its already enriched uranium, despite prior agreement.

More Articles from Gil Shefler
CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

No earth was moved last month at the groundbreaking of one of the nation’s newest Holocaust memorials.

Cellular phones began ringing ominously at Congregation Shaar Hashalom in Houston on Sunday afternoon as the bad news quickly spread among a group gathered for a synagogue meeting.

Cellular phones began ringing ominously at Congregation Shaar Hashalom in Houston on Sunday afternoon as the bad news quickly spread among a group gathered for a synagogue meeting.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/holocaust/nearly-70-years-after-war-holocaust-memorials-continue-to-proliferate/2013/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: