Holocaust Memorial to Be Erected in New York City

A museum that will serve as a memorial to the Holocaust and to the Jewish culture that was destroyed by Nazism is to be erected in Battery Park City.

Survivors of the Holocaust joined with Governor Mario Cuomo and Mayor Edward Koch and the co-chairmen of the New York Holocaust Memorial Commission–George Klein, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and State Senate Majority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein–in signing a 99-year lease for the land on which the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will be built.

At the dramatic ceremony last Thursday, Elie Wiesel, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, said: “Only those who were there will know what it meant to be there. And yet we must communicate that knowledge any way we can through the language of memory. May this museum become a vehicle for that language.”

Jewish leaders, city officials and Israeli diplomats also attended the lease-signing ceremony in full view of the Statue of Liberty. The museum, which will cost an estimated $60 million to construct, will be built by the New York Holocaust Commission, which was appointed by Cuomo and Koch, the founding chairmen.

“The Holocaust Museum will bring to New Yorkers and citizens of the world who visit the city a solemn reminder of the horrible crime committed against the Jewish community, a crime against all humanity,” Cuomo declared.

“The Museum will serve as a beacon of hope, to demonstrate to Jews and non-Jews alike that we will never forget the six million, that we will never rest in our fight against intolerance, that we are all, indeed, responsible for each other within a family whose embrace is world wide,” the Governor said.

Koch said that the Museum will serve as a tribute to the collective memory of Jews, “a memory that spans the ages and enables us to resist as we always will the efforts of any barbarians to destroy us.” He noted that anti-Semitism is still present, even in countries like Greece which has no longer a meaningful Jewish population.

The museum–designed by architect James Stewart Polshek–will be built in conjunction with a 34-story residential tower, which will help finance the project.

Ground breaking for the museum is anticipated in the spring of 1987, with an opening projected for 1989, according to Dr. David Blumenfeld, executive director of the Holocaust Commission.

The complex will be part of the 92-acre Battery Park City landfill development along the Hudson River. An agreement between the State and the Holocaust Commission will make construction of the museum possible, at no cost to Battery Park City Authority bondholders, Meyer Frucher, President of the Battery Park City Authority, said.

The museum is planned as a multi-faceted institution, with innovative educational resources and programs. The focal point will be a 60-foot-high monumental memorial hall that will be illuminated and glow through the night, symbolizing the eternal flame.

A permanent exhibition in the museum will explore nineteenth and early twentieth century European Jewish civilization; the brutal process by which the world of European Jewry was destroyed; the liberation of the concentration and death camps; and the struggle of survivors to rebuild Jewish life in American and Israel.

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