Philadelphia’s Holocaust Memorial Plaza combines previous with brand-new technology

In 1964, the very first public memorial to the Holocaust in the United States was unveiled in a solemn event in Philadelphia. The bronze-on-black granite sculpture called “6 Million Jewish Martyrs” was the work of artist Nathan Rapoport, who left his native Poland when the Nazis got into Warsaw. It was commissioned by a group of Philadelphia-area Holocaust survivors and Jewish civic leaders. The sculpture, which portrays pictures of resistance, innocence and faith, has sat unchanged on its perch along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway ever since.Now, after over half a century, the Holocaust Memorial Plaza has actually been broadened and enhanced to focus on both remembrance and education. With new screens and an interactive app, visitors can hear testaments from survivors, liberators and witnesses associated with the Philadelphia community.The brand-new plaza opened

Monday at an event including local dignitaries and Holocaust survivors.Some highlights of the expansion: The plaza’s focal point is called the “Six Pillars.”Organized in pairs, the pillars contrast atrocities of the Holocaust with American constitutional defenses and worths. The idea is to remind visitors that if America is loyal to the Constitution, a genocide like the Holocaust will not occur here, stated Eszter Kutas, the acting director of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation.For example, one pillar is devoted to human equality, and features a quote from the Declaration of Independence, and is contrasted with a pillar explaining the Nazis’ idea of a master race.The 6 pillars feature quotes from figures like George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower and Philadelphia native and prisoner-of-war camp liberator Leon Bass.CONCENTRATION CAMP LIBERATOR, BLACK PHILADELPHIAN Leon Bass was 20, an Army corporal who had actually matured in Philadelphia embittered by the embarrassment and

degradation of bigotry. Buchenwald changed his life.He helped liberate the Nazi death camp in April 1945, and stated that for the very first time, he recognized that bigotry, and the human suffering it generates, is a universal evil.

“Some of them simply wanted to touch you, be near you, “Bass recalled of the survivors in an Associated Press interview in 1985.”They loafed and simply took a look at you with those gaunt

, deep-set eyes.”Bass, who died in 2015 at age 90, was silent about Buchenwald for more than twenty years, opening up for the very first time in 1968 when a Holocaust survivor came to speak at Benjamin Franklin High School, where he

was the principal.From that day forward, for decades, he spoke out about the atrocities he witnessed.TRAIN TRACKS TO TREBLINKA A portion of the original train tracks that led to the Treblinka extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland is embedded in the paving of the plaza.”It’s to remind visitors of the countless deportations that occurred,”Kutas said.The Nazis built six main death camps, all in

occupied Poland: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. Nazis murdered an approximated 700,000 and 900,000 Jews in Treblinka’s gas chambers throughout

the war.The camp is possibly the most outright example of the “Final Option,” the Nazi plot

to rid Europe of its Jews. It was created with the sole intent of annihilating Jews, instead of other centers that had at least an exterior of being jail or labor camps. Treblinka’s victims were transferred there in cattle vehicles

and gassed to death nearly instantly upon arrival.Only a couple of lots detainees handled to get away Treblinka.SAPLING FROM THERESIENSTADT TREE”Kid locked up at the Theresienstadt camp received a sapling from a teacher in the camp, and supported it, knowing they may not see it fully grown,”Kutas stated. Those children were later deported to Auschwitz and killed, she said, but the tree continued to thrive at the concentration camp in what was then the German-occupied Czechoslovakia.A sapling from that tree was planted 2 weeks earlier in the plaza,

to represent life and wish for the future,”a tip of how we should support our children, “Kutas said.She stated there are about half a lots to a dozen saplings from the Theresienstadt tree planted around the world, with some in Israel, Germany, San Francisco and Chicago.The Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation to bring educational material and technology to the renovated plaza.An app specifically developed for the plaza will allow visitors to utilize their mobile phones to link to video testimonials of Holocaust survivors and witnesses.

The videos will draw from the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive that has over 54,000 eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust, along with pictures, files, maps and other

educational materials.(Copyright © 2018 WPVI-TV. All Rights Scheduled.)



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