Urbi et Orbi
We propose to create a sacred space.
We propose to create a sacred space of many resonances.
A space in resonance with Oswiecim, a town in Poland which appears in history at the dawn of the XIIIth century. In archaic Polish the name of this town means, literally, “we shall consecrate.”
A space in resonance with Brzezinka, an old polish village, literally “little birch
stand”, a neighbor of Oswiecim.
This town, known in German as Auschwitz as long ago as the XVth century, and this village, known in German as Birkenau, literally “birch waterside”, became in 1942, in occupied Poland, the infamous capital of cruelty and mass murder of Nazi Germany, the concentration camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau where one and one half million Jews, captured all over Europe were murdered in the years 1942 to 1945.
You propose to create a Memorial where the citizens of Atlantic City and their guests may visit, rest and gather to commemorate the Holocaust. You dare want to speak of it, right here, “to the City and to the World”. The City is here at its quintessential secular space, the space of seekers of pleasure, rest and recreation – The Boardwalk. The World is here too, as it is forever – an immensity of sky, sun, moon, stars, waters of the Atlantic Ocean – a spectacle of Nature which is, as you say “majestic… compelling… inspirational… thought-provoking”.
We propose a sparse, transparent Memorial design comprising ﬁve elements:
1 A stand of Six Birch Trees, betula papiryfera. These tall trees, green and white, the witness trees of Birkenau, offer shade, the rustle of leaves in the wind, a constant murmur, perhaps, of prayer and consolation.
2 A Memorial Tablet made of laminated glass and stainless steel, with built-in lighting, rising vertically from a slot in the wood deck; featuring at it’s center an engraved map of Europe and North Africa illustrating the maximum reach of Nazi Germany and her collaborators. Around this map, talmudic style, word is given to eminent victims – Walter Benjamin, Anne Frank, Mordechai Gebirtig, Etty Hillesum, Itzhak Katzenelson, Janusz Korczak… eminent survivors – Tadeusz Borowski, Paul Celan, Fania Fenelon, Henryk Grynberg, Jerzy Kosinski, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel…eminent liberators – General Eisenhower, Field Marshal Montgomery, Marshal Zhukov… and eminent historians – Bella Davidovich, Martin Gilbert, Jan Gross, Raul Hilberg, David Wyman… all these words to be chosen in due deliberation, all together forming an engraved message of connection, information, remembrance, sorrow, inspiration and dedication.
3 A Memorial Candleholder, made of stainless structural steel, a rail shape or,
perhaps, a relic rail, if one is obtainable, in place for events of public commemoration.
4 A Wood Deck and Railing – same as the Boardwalk standard – featuring built-in flush stainless steel plate Great Circle Markers (4a) showing bearings and distances to sites of persecution at the extreme reaches of Hitler’s Germany and it’s collaborators, as well as sites of crucial battles that brought about the tides of victory and liberation… built-in flush stainless steel Tree Grates (4b) and Tree Lighting (4c)… and two focused Wood Seat Slabs (4d) for rest and contemplation.
5 A working Bookstore and Reading Room, in the rentable retail frontage accross the Boardwalk from the Memorial, featuring special books and exhibitions, information in all media relevant to the study and remembrance of the Holocaust.