What was the Holocaust?
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Other victims of the Nazi regime included the Roma Sinti or Gypsies, mentally or physically disabled patients, Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and Freemasons. The Holocaust occurred from 1933-1945 in Nazi Germany and occupied territories.
Why have a Memorial here in Ohio when what happened in WWII was so far away from us?
Both the Holocaust survivors and the many Ohio soldiers who liberated them in
Europe that have called Ohio their home for years inspired the Memorial. It is important to remember those members of our community, who despite having faced large obstacles, helped make Ohio a better place for us today. This Memorial is designed to inspire the world to remember and reflect our past in order to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
How was the Memorial paid for?
Although site preparations were paid for by the State of Ohio, the cost of the memorial itself was paid through private donations.
What materials are used in the Memorial?
4 tons of steel, 3.5 tons of bronze, 11 tons of limestone and 13.7 tons of Carnela granite.
Why is on Statehouse grounds?
It is important to remember that the Holocaust did not begin in the concentration camps, but rather in the halls of Parliament where a dictatorial regime passed anti-Jewish legislation taking their property, their businesses, their homes, their freedom and ultimately their lives; it began among lawyers who refused to protect Jewish businesses following Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass); in schools where teachers reinforced Nazi propaganda to children, leading to the formation of the Hitler Youth; among doctors who forgot their oath and treated humans as experiments; and among the police who refused to protect the most vulnerable. This public location is a reminder that the horrors of the Holocaust did not only occur in private, but were often visible and part of the daily lives of men, women and children.
The Memorial reflects the important role each of us plays to be a voice for the voiceless and stand up and speak out for our neighbors. It also reminds us that more than Jews were victims and no one is immune to hatred. It also gives us a place to remind ourselves of those who sacrificed in service during WWII in order for our democratic values and freedom to continue.
How was the artist selected?
A diverse group of Ohioans were selected to form the Artist Selection Committee to carefully review and vote on applicants who had submitted proposals through the Ohio Arts Council. After narrowing down the nearly 100 proposals, they chose the top three artists plus one alternate. After viewing and discussing their proposals, the Committee chose world-renowned architect and artist Daniel Libeskind’s design.
Why is there a Star of David in the Memorial?
During the Holocaust, the Nazis chose the yellow star as an identifying badge required on the garments of all Jews. After the war, Jews turned this symbol of humiliation and death into a badge of honor. Nowadays, the Star of David is the most universally recognized symbol of the Jewish People. Artist Daniel Libeskind chose to use the star.
What about the other groups persecuted by the Nazis?
In addition to the approximately six million Jewish men, women and children persecuted by the Nazi regime and its collaborators, millions more individuals and groups were targeted. Other victims of the Nazi regime included the Roma Sinti or Gypsies, mentally or physically disabled patients, Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and Freemasons. Those groups were often forced to wear identifying badges such as a triangle for homosexual victims, similar to the yellow star worn by Jews. The inscription on the granite wall leading up to the monument honors all victims of Nazi persecution. It reads:
IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE SIX MILLION JEWS WHO PERISHED IN THE HOLOCAUST AND MILLIONS MORE INCLUDING PRISONERS OF WAR, ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS MINORITIES, HOMOSEXUALS, THE MENTALLY ILL, THE DISABLED, AND POLITICAL DISSIDENTS WHO SUFFERED UNDER NAZI GERMANY.
Are the liberators mentioned in the memorial?
Approximately 839,000 Ohioans served in WWII beginning in 1940. Because of the service and sacrifice of many young men and women during WWII, the Nazis were defeated and victims in concentration camps were liberated. Many liberators describe their arrival to the camps as life changing. The inscription on the granite wall that honors them reads:
INSPIRED BY THE OHIO SOLDIERS WHO WERE PART OF THE AMERICAN LIBERATION AND SURVIVORS WHO MADE OHIO THEIR HOME
There is also the following inscription from the Talmud. The Talmud is considered an authoritative record of rabbinic discussions on Jewish law, Jewish ethics, customs, legends and stories
IF YOU SAVE ONE LIFE, IT IS AS IF YOU SAVED THE WORLD
What other inscriptions are on the Memorial?
“Every human being who chooses to remember this chapter of history and to infuse it with meaning is thereby choosing to struggle for the preservation of the bedrock moral values that alone make possible the existence of a well-ordered society. This is a commitment to uphold human rights, above all, freedom and the sanctity of life, and the opportunity for people to live side by side in harmony.”
– Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate of The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
Who is Avner Shalev?
Avner Shalev is an Israeli scholar and the current chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate of The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Museum located in Jerusalem, Israel. He has been in that position since 1993 and is a well-respected voice in Holocaust remembrance and education.
Where does the text on the Memorial come from?
The text on the Memorial comes from Yaffa Eliach’s book, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust. Following the interviewing and the viewing of oral histories of 89 Hasidic survivors of the Holocaust, the author created a text that while as historically accurate as possible, channels the spirit of Hasidic tales. The main themes of Hasidic Tales are love of humanity, optimism and a boundless belief in God and the goodness of mankind.
Who is Michael Schwartz, the survivor whose story is on the Memorial?
Michael Schwartz was born in Zdunska-Wola, Poland, on June 5, 1926. From 1939 to 1942 he stayed in the ghetto of his hometown, and then he was moved to the ghetto of Lodz where he remained until 1944. He worked for the ghetto authorities in Lodz, but when his injured brother was sent to Auschwitz, he followed him. Following his time at Auschwitz-Birkenau, he was then transferred to Neuengamme, Braunschweig, Watenstedt, Bendorf (salt mine), Ravensbrueck and Ludwigslust. American soldiers liberated him in 1945 from Ludwigslust. After the war he went back to his hometown in Poland, hoping to find survivors from his family. Disappointed in his findings, he went back to Germany until 1946 when he went to Sweden, where one sister, who had survived Bergen-Belsen, lived. There he met his wife and they later immigrated to America. The interview used to guide the writings of Yaffa Eliach’s Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust was done in New York City in 1979.