Plans for a new Holocaust Memorial Plaza were officially unveiled Wednesday morning.
Survivors, families, public officials and guests joined together under a cloudy sky on Wednesday morning as plans for a Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza were officially unveiled.
The plaza — the work of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, in partnership with an architectural firm — will be constructed at 16th and Arch streets, sharing the space with the Monument to the Six Million Martyrs.
Mayor Jim Kenney and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro spoke with Miriam Cane, executive vice president of the Holocaust Survivors Association of Philadelphia; Mim Krik, president of the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Association of Philadelphia; and others during the event.
“A memorial that speaks to one generation must be renewed for a second generation,” said Michael Berenbaum, a rabbi, professor and filmmaker who specializes in the Holocaust.
“Our task in creating this new space is going to be to tell the story of the Holocaust to a new generation in a way that is intellectually informative and emotionally compelling,” Berenbaum continued, “and makes them see the sculpture — that has graced this place for some 52 years now — see this sculpture in new light.”
Steven Kessler, chairman of Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, was pleased with the outcome of the unveiling.
“Everybody who spoke had meaningful important comments, and the result of which would be to just make this a reality,” he said afterward.
Kessler said they are in the “homestretch” of finalizing plans for the plaza, which has been in the works since about 2014.
Plans for the plaza include an eternal flame and a tree whose seedling originally grew from the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
“The first account knowledge of what happened fades even more as we lose people who survived, and we lose people who fought and we lose people who liberated,” Mayor Kenney said. “And that’s why these memorials are extremely important — to be able to contemplate and think about what human beings are capable of.”
Kenney alluded to comments that have been made during the recent presidential election campaigns about barring people based on their religion and other speech he hasn’t heard “since the 1930s.”
“We’re talking about going back somewhere to where we never want to go again,” he said. “I think it’s so important that this beautiful memorial gets enhanced, and there’s a place to come and sit and contemplate and think about where we should never, ever allow our country or world to go ever again.”
This is a developing story. A longer story will appear in next week’s paper.
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