Holocaust Memorial Park

Holocaust Memorial Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This park at the entrance to Sheepshead Bay was designated in 1986 by the City and Mayor Edward I. Koch (1924-2013) to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.  The adjacent communities of Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach were settled after World War II by a large Jewish population, many of whom were immigrants and survivors of the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

The park originally consisted of a grove of established London plane trees (destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and since replanted) and a seating area which formed a contemplative space beside the water. After a lengthy planning process led by a local non-profit organization, the Holocaust Memorial Committee, Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden allocated $933,000 toward construction of a permanent memorial designed and built by the City. Holocaust Memorial Park was dedicated on June 22, 1997 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Landscape architect George Vellonakis conceived the design for Holocaust Memorial Park as having both a commemorative and educational function, serving as a memorial and an outdoor museum. Seen from a distance, the memorial’s central feature—a  truncated tower of granite, exposed steel and a bronze “flame”—resembles a beacon one might find beside a harbor to guide mariners. A closer view, however, reveals a dilapidated smokestack reminiscent of a concentration camp crematorium. A single word—“Remember”—encircles this poignant motif, reminding visitors to never forget the memory of those who perished during the Holocaust.

The smokestack stands on three circular tiers of granite, which are engraved with the names of those countries whose people were persecuted during the Holocaust. A twenty-one-foot, long granite slab extending towards Sheepshead Bay is inscribed with a brief history of the Holocaust. In addition, the stack is flanked by two evergreens, which represent the lives of the survivors and the hope for future generations.           

To either side of the memorial’s central display are two “learning rooms” defined by low-lying perimeter shrubs.  Rising out of the crushed gravel surface in these two areas are 234 smaller granite markers. The shapes of the markers are intended to evoke tombstones and their broken edges to represent the shattered lives of Holocaust survivors. Each is different in form and size, to recall the diversity of those persecuted by the Nazis.

Some stones bear inscriptions highlighting significant historic events and places, and the stories of the persecuted peoples affected during the Holocaust, while other symbolic markers bear quotations from men and women who witnessed those events firsthand. Still other tablets carry the names of individuals or families who perished under the Nazi regime. Provision has been made for the addition of inscriptions to cover up to 80% of the markers, according to a program coordinated by NYC Parks and the Holocaust Memorial Committee.

For general information about programs or inscribing a name, contact the Holocaust Memorial Committee at thmc.org.

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