precedent: New England Holocaust Memorial

Stanley Saitowitz

Commissioned by the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston & the city of Boston

A Holocaust survivor, Stephan Ross was on a mission when immigrating to the United States in 1948. He wanted to remember the lost of his family members among the six million Jewish victims and other innocent people who lost their lives in the Holocaust. He went on to achieve this memory in the form a memorial. By forming a committee consisting of several Boston officials, the New England Holocaust memorial was brought into fruition.

The Memorial is designed around six glass towers, each reaching 54 feet high, and each lit internally from top to bottom. The number six holds several meanings within the memorial: the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust; the names of the six main death camps; a row of memorial candles; and the six years, 1939-1945, during which the infamous “Final Solution,” the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, took place. Additionally, millions of numbers are etched in the glass, representing the infamous tattoos inflected on many of the victims’ arms. The memorials construction began on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. On the walls of each tower, a memory of a survivor from the camp is etched one writes:

“I was assigned to work outside digging ditches. We dug in the freezing cold and rain, wearing only the thin striped dresses issued to us.  The ditches weren’t to be used for any particular purpose. The Nazis were merely trying to work us to death and many did die of sickness, cold, exhaustion, and starvation.”

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As visitors walk along the path to enter the towers, they are coated in the shadows of numbers representing the tattoos force upon Jews during the holocaust. Each of the six burning chambers within the glass towers are named after one of the six death camps constructed in Poland, factories whose product was death: Chelmno, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Belzec. These six towers are emblems of faith, a covenant of trust that memorializes a collective evil.

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