A new $7 million plaza to be constructed at the memorial site to honor the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis.
A Philadelphia-based Holocaust memorial saw the first stages of a new renovation project worth $7 million Tuesday when officials gathered to launch restoration work on the old structure.
Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the memorial is set to be spruced up for the first time in half a century following the announcement of a huge endowment six months ago by the non-profit Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation (PHRF).
Speaking at the ceremony, the city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, said that the more nationalistic flavor that has permeated political and public discourse necessitates the new memorial plaza, which he said should serve as a prominent reminder of the consequences of extremism.
“In light of the toxic national rhetoric, it’s more important than ever that we properly commemorate the victims of this tragedy and never forget this dark period of history,” Kenny said.
The renovation, which is designed to enhance education and awareness about the Holocaust, will see the construction of a brand new plaza, along with more monuments to complement the main Six Million Jewish Martyrs statue.
Emphasis on education
With an emphasis on the educational aspect, in addition to the honoring of the victims murdered during the Third Reich, PHRF chairman David Adelman said that the planned structure should be thought of as an “outdoor living classroom.”
The new plaza, scheduled to open in 2018, will contain a series of monuments to symbolize the tragedy that befell European Jewry, starting with the Six Pillars which will at once honor the six million victims, reflect on the Holocaust’s cruelty and celebrate American values.
Additionally, an Eternal Flame will constantly shine, representing the eternity of the victims’ memory.
A brand-new tree grove will also be established to provide viewers with a taste of how it felt to flee from the Nazis and seek refuge in Europe’s forests. In an effort to encapsulate the Nazi atrocities, while simultaneously paying tribute to power of hope in hopeless adversity, a tree planted by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp will also serve as a central focus in the plaza.
However , it will not be the only authentic feature of the new design, as train tracks taken from Treblinka death camp will also be displayed.
Technology will also be utilized at the plaza, with the integration of a gigantic electronic archive comprising 50,000 eyewitness accounts by Holocaust survivors, allowing visitors to hear about their experiences first hand.