Field Trip :: The Holocaust Memorial

photos taken by Alyce Packard
Written by Alyce Packard, BID Candidate

I went to the New England Holocaust Memorial designed by Stanley Saitowitz and didn't really know what to expect. Just as the Holocaust is a topic filled with emotion, the design of the memorial beckons you to engage it and forces you to comprehend, grieve, and pay respect. It was powerful and emotional.

There are six large towers made of glass and steel. Each tower is 54 feet high and although I have not been there at night, they are lit from top to bottom. There is a black granite path underneath the towers that you follow. At the base of each tower, there is a metal grid that you stand on. Each grate covers a 6 foot deep chamber which releases steam.

While this structure is beautiful it is also very disturbing. I personally think that the towers were made in increments of 6 feet to show a relationship to human scale. By using 6 feet, you can imagine someone being below you in that 6 foot deep chamber, and more people being stacked on top of you. The steam is referring to the smoke from the smoke stacks. 

When you actually stand directly under the opening and look up, you feel trapped, like you're actually in a smoke stack.Your little window to freedom is so small. While all of this symbolism is very serious and impacts you, they also keep it light at the same time. The walls are all clear glass and the bottom and top of the stacks are open with space between each. It's like a ghost of the actual smoke stacks. 

There are 6 million numbers etched in the glass that represent each person that was killed in the holocaust. I think this is a very powerful way to show the amount of people that died, its overwhelming to see that many numbers. Coming here is an experience I think everyone should have. Even on a beautiful sunny day, this memorial will instantly make you take it seriously and remember what happened. While it is a sad thing to remember, the nature of this memorial also gives you a feeling of hope and survival.

Find time to visit it here.