New England Holocaust Memorial
"Look at these towers, passerby, and try to imagine what they really mean - what they symbolize - what they evoke. They evoke an era of incommensurate darkness, an era in history when civilization lost its humanity and humanity its soul . . .We must look at these towers of memory and say to ourselves, No one should ever deprive a human being of his or her right to dignity. No one should ever deprive anyone of his or her right to be a sovereign human being. No one should ever speak again about racial superiority...We cannot give evil another chance."
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.
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.
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:
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Source: New England Holocaust Memorial; Photographs provided by private source