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Philly holocaust memorial's 'pillar' design announced

The memorial at the corner of 16th and the Parkway will soon undergo an expansion.
The proposed pillar design at Philadelphia's Holocaust Memorial. (Provided)

Exactly a year after it was initially announced, the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation has unveiled new images of the $7 million project that will bring an expanded memorial along the Ben Franklin Parkway dedicated to the millions who died in the holocaust.

On Thursday – the anniversary of a celebration held on May 11 of last year - the PHRF shared new images of the Six Pillars, intended to be the centerpiece of the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza.

“When visitors lay eyes upon the Six Pillars, they’ll be reminded not just of the atrocities of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, but of our nation’s core principles of equality, democracy, and freedom,” said David Adelman, Chairman of the PHRF in a statement on the expansion. “We believe that there is no better way to honor the memories of Holocaust victims than to promote the very values that can combat religious persecution around the world.”

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Set to begin construction at the intersection of 16th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway sometime this winter, the pillars will join artist Nathan Rapoport’s "The Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs" already located at the plaza.

The six pillars will be dedicated to the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, while each pillar will be etched with information about the Holocaust contrasted with an adjacent pillar detailing, what the PHRF called, ‘America’s core values.”

The themes will be:

-        Human Equality vs. The Master Race

-        American Democracy vs. Totalitarianism

-        Natural Rights vs. Nuremberg Laws

-        Freedom of Religion vs. Religious Persecution

-        Protecting Life and Liberty vs. Death Camps

-        Liberation vs. Bearing Witness

An Eternal Flame and a black granite Remembrance Wall will also be installed.

As announced last year, the plaza’s pavement will be designed with train tracks to represent the tragic reality that holocaust victims endured - that of being herded onto trains and sent to labor and death camps.

Finally, in the plaza, the PHRF intends to plant a bit of living history with a “Thereisenstadt tree.”

The tale of that tree, named for the Theresienstadt concentration camp near Prague, says that a teacher who was imprisoned at that camp, Irma Lauscher, planted a sapling in the children’s area of the camp to celebrate the Jewish tradition of the New Year of the Trees, or Tu B’Shevat. 

The children housed in that concentration camp are said to have shared their daily portions of water with a small sapling.

That tree still stands today.