The New England Holocaust Memorial was built to foster memory of and reflection on one of the great tragedies of our time, the Holocaust (Shoah). The effort was begun by a group of survivors of Nazi concentration camps who have found new homes and new lives in the Boston area. Dedicated in October 1995, over 3000 individuals and organizations from across the community joined in sponsoring the project.
The design utilizes uniquely powerful symbols of the Holocaust. The Memorial features six luminous glass towers, each 54 feet high. The towers are lit internally to gleam at night. They are set on a black granite path, each one over a dark chamber which carries the name of one of the principal Nazi death camps. Smoke rises from charred embers at the bottom of these chambers. Six million numbers are etched in glass in an orderly pattern, suggesting the infamous tattooed numbers and ghostly ledgers of the Nazi bureaucracy. Evocative and rich in metaphor, the six towers recall the six main death camps, the six million Jews who died, or a menorah of memorial candles.
A collaboration of government and non-profit agencies participate in the Memorial's operations. The Boston National Historic Park maintains the site. The Jewish Community Relations Council coordinates programming. The Combined Jewish Philanthropies assists in management issues. Facing History and Ourselves developed a valuable study guide. Survivors of the Holocaust and volunteers serve as educators.
The memorial is located along Boston's famous Freedom Trail in downtown and near Fanueil Hall. Visitors approaching the Memorial from the Faneuil Hall side encounter a large black granite panel that outlines key historical events that led to the Holocaust from the Nazis rise to power in 1933 to their defeat in 1945. As they enter the first tower, they pass over the word "Remember" inscribed in the pathway both in English and in Hebrew.
Through the voices of survivors and witnesses to the Nazi death camps, we seek to comprehend the acts of inhumanity that can stem from the seeds of prejudice. Inscribed in the glass panels at the base of the Memorial's towers are statements which represent a range of personal experiences, from the horrors of camp life to acts of resistance.
To encourage a universal understanding, information is presented about the history of that period throughout the Memorial. Inscribed along the edges of the pathway, in between each tower, are short factual statements about the Holocaust, its many victims and heroes.
This interplay of historical and personal narrative encourages visitors to understand the history of the Shoah, while never forgetting the individual lives devastated by it.
As they leave the final tower, visitors again view the word "Remember", inscribed in English and Yiddish, the language of Eastern European Jewish people.At the end of the path stands a large black granite panel, bearing the legendary quotation from Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoeller inviting them to contemplate the universal issues of prejudice and persecution today.
"I hope that visitors to the Memorial take away with them the ungraspabale nature of the Holocaust, the completely overwhelming, inexplicable dimension of dimension. And coupled with that, a sense of hope that survival and the building of this memorial make possible."
Stanley Saitowitz, Architect
The Memorial design features six luminous glass towers, each reaching fifty-four feet high, and each lit internally from top to bottom. Six million numbers are etched in the glass. These numbers represent the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and are suggestive of the infamous tattoos the Nazis inflicted on many of the victims.
Visitors walk a black granite path through the Memorial, passing under the towers. At the base of each tower, a stainless steel grate covers a six-foot deep chamber. On the wall of each chamber is inscribed one of the names of the six primary Nazi death camps: Majdanek, Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Belzec, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the bottom of the pits, smoldering coals illuminate the names of the camps.
Always suggestive, but not literal, the New England Holocaust Memorial design arouses countless acts of memory, response, and understanding as many as there are visitors to the Memorial itself.
Friends of the New England Holocaust Memorial:
126 High Street
Boston, MA 02110-2700
Phone: 617 - 457 - 8698
Email: [email protected]
Sources: New England Holocaust Memorial; Photographs provided by private source