web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.”

But Holocaust commemoration also has been driven by Christians such as Michael Tudor, a Louisiana lawyer and a Baptist. He came up with the idea of building a Holocaust memorial while jogging past a sculpture by the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam in New Orleans dedicated to the memory of the victims.

If everything goes according to plan, Tudor will break ground on a Holocaust memorial in his hometown of Alexandria (population: 47,000) in November.

“I can think of many reasons we ought to have one even though we are a small city,” Tudor said. “There’s a real historical tie to the liberation of camps. And we’ve always had a vibrant Jewish community for a small town. They’ve been the foundation blocks of our community.”

The privately funded $80,000 structure will feature an 18-foot granite obelisk – “because eighteen is a symbolic number in the Hebrew tradition,” Tudor said – and be engraved with the famous poem “First they came” by the German pastor Martin Niemoler.

The memorial also will remember local U.S. soldiers who participated in the liberation of the camps, as well as the victims and survivors.

“The Greatest Generation is dying out and people’s memories are fading,” Tudor said. “You realize, if not now, when?”

Young expects that with the youngest survivors becoming octogenarians, the trend is unlikely to continue indefinitely. Once they pass, the money and motivation for such projects may disappear as well.

“The next generation,” Young said, “might be less likely to be doing this.”

(JTA)

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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Car Smashed in A-Tur
4 Women Survive Near Lynch on Mount of Olives
Latest News Stories
Car Smashed in A-Tur

A woman and three girls miraculously escaped an Arab lynch mob on Thursday afternoon while driving through the Jerusalem A-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.

Israeli PM Netanyahu and US Pres. Obama met in the Oval Office on Oct. 1, 2014.

The subtext in an Obama and Netanyahu press conference continues to be a disagreement over the role of Iran.

Jan Morgan, owner of the Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range.

“How then, can anyone say that, the practice of Islam is protected by the U.S. Constitution?”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat puts cement on the official cornerstone celebrating the reopening of the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City.

Why doesn’t Obama also label Jerusalem Arabs as “illegitimate settlers?”

Israel’s President Ruby Rivlin recites Slichot, the prayers for forgiveness that are said leading up to Yom Kippur. This slichot prayer session was held at the President’s official residence. Speaking of presidential pardons, it would be good if this were the year that Jonathan Pollard was let free.

American university campuses have become fertile ground for seeds of evil.

Letter of protest charges SJP with “harassing and intimidating Jewish students.”

Biden’s new national security adviser dissed Israel in the Democratic party platform and mocks Iran’s danger.

PA leader Abbas demands UN force Israel back to 1949 Armistice Line by Nov. 2016.

Car fires are car fires,” said the Atlantic City fire chief. But the car was parked!

US admits its ‘no-strike if any civilians might be hit’ policy does not apply to its airstrikes against ISIS.

Israeli police revealed on September 30 that they are now investigating the possibility that a fellow Arab worker may have cut the cable that held Arami as he was doing exterior work on a building.

A 14-year-old Dutch Muslim high school student is suspended after posting a video saying he is “from ISIS” and wants to “behead Jews.”

PM Netanyahu and US Pres. Obama met Wednesday evening for 75 minutes at the White House in Washington DC.

Israel talks with building blocks. The Palestinian Authority throws them.

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: