Located in scenic Riverside Park by the Susquehanna River at Front and Sayford Streets, the Holocaust Monument stands as a remembrance of the 6 million Jews killed by Nazis during World War II. This monument is a tribute to the vision of local Holocaust survivors who planned and were instrumental in all phases of the creation and financial support of this meaningful memorial. Since the erection of the monument, our Jewish community is proud to hold its annual Yom Hashoah observance there. (Dedicated in 1994 and refurbished in 2011)
The sculpture is composed of three elements: a stainless steel core, which in plan has the configuration of a “Star of David”; a cor-ten steel outer shell, which is an abstraction of a coiled barbed wire; and a black granite base of progressively smaller “Stars of David”.
The sculpture is set upon a hexagonally shaped “Jerusalem Stone” basin. Setting the sculpture in a lowered basic creates a metamorphic impact. When viewed from afar, only the sculpture appears, but as one nears the sculpture, the full drama of its setting is realized. When one views the sculpture from within the lowered basin, it has a humbling effect on the viewer, and makes the viewer a participant in the drama. Creating the lowered basin resulted from my interpretation of the lament from Psalms - 130: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee O Lord”.
Surrounding the basin are sloping polished granite walls. Upon these walls are etched the story of the Holocaust.
Upon the top of the granite coping surrounding the basin inset into the granite, are letters bearing the names of the most infamous death camps and the Einsatzgruppen.
The sculpture rests on the “Jerusalem Stone” basin floor. It rises 15 feet with a diameter of 4 feet.
The stainless steel core represents the Jewish people. Stainless steel suggests “permanence”; the manner in which the core is fragmented suggests the many tragedies and tribulations that have visited the Jewish people in their history. However, at the same time, it appears to have vitality and continued growth. The core stands on three pillars which echo the verse from “Pirkai Avot”; “The world stands on three pillars; Torah, Divine Service, and Acts of Kindness”. The principal is the blueprint of Jewish life.
The Holocaust is portrayed by the “cor-ten” steel outer shell; this represents the barbed wire fence that was used by the Nazis to surround and entrap their victims in the death camps, and inflict great misery and death upon them. Cor-ten steel is an alloy which in a short time forms a thin outer layer of oxidation which helps protect the surface from further erosion. The rusty color of the outer shell represents oppression, decay and misery. It appears to be struggling the stainless steel core with its serpentine-like form.
The black granite base of the sculpture is in the form of sic “Stars of David”, representing the six million murdered Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust.
The element of “Hope” is conveyed in the manner in which the stainless steel core reaches above the strange hold of the Nazi “snake.”
By David Ascalon, artist