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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Radegast Station’

Survivor Park In Lodz

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

    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.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

Radegast Station Of Lodz

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

       The name Radegast Station might not be familiar to most people. But for those who were in the Lodz Ghetto during the war, it was a place that brought chills to the bones. It was at the Radegast train station where newcomers arrived from all over Europe when they were sent to the overcrowded Lodz Ghetto. And it was from there that they were sent to their final destination, Chelmno or Auschwitz – from which there was no return. By the end of August 1944, more then 150,000 Jews were sent to their deaths from this small depot on the outskirts of the ghetto.


         A few years ago, I reported that the actual building that had been used by the Nazis to hold the Jews awaiting transport had been found. When I visited the site, it was owned by a local non-Jewish Pole and was being used as a woodshop by day and a hangout by night. The building was covered with graffiti, and there was no sign of its former use other than its location alongside active train tracks.


         When I recently visited the site three weeks ago, I saw there had been a tremendous transformation. Gone is the graffiti, the empty vodka bottles and the garbage. In their place is a memorial befitting the honor due the victims who passed through the site. The original building has been cleaned up and the inside is left a stark white, with pictures hanging from the ceilings showing life in the ghetto.


The Radegast Station as it appears today.


         Outside sit two railroad cars similar to those in which victims were transported to the death camps. One of the cars is left open, so that one may enter the car to experience what it was like inside, even for a brief moment. Often people come out in a hurry with a sense of horror from the claustrophobic conditions, not being able to imagine what it must have been like for the victims who often had to spend days confined in such cars.


         On the perimeter of the site is a monument showing the places of origin of the victims, as well as an explanation of what occurred there.


         For many people, the most moving part of the memorial is the long tunnel to nowhere. The designers of the memorial continued the track where the railcars are sitting in a long dark tunnel. This is where lights that are lit up by sensors reveal lists of the people who were transported to their deaths 60 years ago.


         Also very moving is the list of children’s names. It was on September 4, 1942, that Chaim Ruminkowski, “the king of the ghetto,” delivered his famous speech asking that the Jews give up their children so that they may live. Most resisted, but the roundups were persistent and continued for nine days.


         After the roundup, nearly 6,000 children and 10,000 adults unable to work were sent from the Radegast Station to their deaths at Chelmno. Embedded with the lists of people are small items found during the building of the memorial. Small buttons, a piece of broken pottery, an eyeglass frame; the only remains of the thousands of children who passed through.


         At the end of the tunnel is a memorial flame at the bottom of a chimney, whose walls are engraved with the names of the cities and towns from where the victims came. The chimney is a chilling reminder of how most of the victims’ remains were destroyed by fire.


         It is both touching and disturbing when a train whistle sounds during a ceremony at the Radegast Station and a modern cargo train passes by.


         The city of Lodz has further plans for the site, including a learning center for the study of what took place at the Radegast Station and in the Lodz Ghetto.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/radegast-station-of-lodz/2006/11/08/

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