Holocaust Memorial Plaza expansion announced

Philadelphia’s tribute to victims of the Holocaust in Center City will soon be expanded from a plaza and sculpture to a “living classroom,” leaders announced Tuesday.

“Located in the heart of Philadelphia, the Plaza will serve as a powerful reminder of the need to stand up for our basic human values and fight anti-Semitism in all forms,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, who attended the ground-breaking of the expanded plaza on Tuesday morning, in a statement. “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.”

The plaza and its “Six Million Jewish Martyrs sculpture” has served as a memorial to the systematic genocide of Jews under the Nazi party in Germany since 1964.

By fall of 2018, the plaza will be expanded and redesigned as a “living classroom,” the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation (PHRF) announced on Tuesday.

A mobile app created by the USC Shoah Foundation will give visitors a location-activated historic tour of the site and access to eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust from some 50,000 survivors.

The Holocaust Memorial Plaza expansion will include:

-“Six Pillars,” a new sculpture symbolizing the six million who died. The pillars will be presented in pairs, each chronicling one atrocity of the Holocaust and pairing it with a message from the US Constitution; “to demonstrate that so long as the United States remains faithful to the Constitution, a genocide like the Holocaust will not occur here,” PHRF said.

-Original train tracks from the railroad adjacent to the Treblinka death camp embedded in the pavement.

-A sapling grown from a tree planted by children in the Theresienstadt camp “who recognized that they were unlikely to live long enough to see it mature.”

-A tree grove that “will represent the woodlands that sheltered the brave heroes of the resistance movement.”

The project is funded by a $7 million fundraising drive by PHRF.

“This unique memorial in Philadelphia is a stark reminder to never forget,” said

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who attended the ground-breaking. “It will serve as an important place of remembrance and reflection. …This memorial will bear witness, bring people from all walks of life together to say—never again.”

Learn more at www.philaholocaustmemorial.org.

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