PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A ground breaking Tuesday symbolized the beginning of the year long process to transform the head of Ben Franklin Parkway. The city plans to add a memorial park dedicated to the 6 million people killed during the Jewish Holocaust.
For the past 53 years, an 18-foot bronze monument to 6 million Jewish martyrs stood alone, but no more.
The corner of 16th and the Parkway will be transformed into the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza, enhancing North America’s first memorial to the Jewish Holocaust.
“It’ll be an immersive place of contemplation, a unique living classroom dedicated to the teaching and universal lessons of one of history’s worst crimes,” said David Adelman, chair of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation.
The new open air park will include interactive elements, including a remembrance wall with an eternal flame, a tree nurtured by children in the Theresienstadt Camp, as well as six pillars to symbolize the 6 million killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.
“I think it is wonderful, anything that will remind people,” said Holocaust survivor Suzy Ressler.
Ressler was 16 years old in 1944 when she was sent to a concentration camp in Auschwitz.
“I have total recollection of every day and every moment,” she said.
She is part of the shrinking number of survivors left to tell the story of the Holocaust but this memorial will be their voice.
Construction on this $7 million park will begin next month. The goal is to unveil the completed memorial this time next year.
With recent acts of hate, like at Mt. Carmel Jewish Cemetery, are a reminder to survivors like Ms. Ressler that we can never forget.
“You have to remember in order not to make the same mistake again,” she said.