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Jewish Groups Reject N.Y. City Design for Monument for Nazi Victims

December 20, 1965
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A plan by the New York City Art Commission to have a monument erected in a city square in memory of the 6,000,000 Jewish martyrs of Nazism is opposed by a steering committee of 34 Jewish organizations, a spokesman for the committee announced here today.

The Art Commission approved the project, calling for the erection of a 30-foot high slab of granite or marble in a small park facing Lincoln Center, a complex of mid-city structures devoted to the arts. The face of the slab would depict a sculpture showing Cain killing Abel, and would quote the story of that murder as told in the Book of Genesis. Under the Biblical quotation, there would be a dedication “in memoriam to the six million martyred Jews of Europe, 1933-1945.”

According to the spokesman for the steering committee, that body considered the design now approved by the Art Commission, and rejected it a month ago. Instead of the proposed monument and the Lincoln Center site, the committee prefers the erection in River side Park of another, more dramatic monument, which the Art Commission rejected a year ago.

The project approved by the Commission calls for a memorial to cost $250,000, to be met by the Committee for the Six Million Jews. The Commission last winter rejected two proposals by Jewish group sponsors, both proposed for sites in Riverside park. In rejecting both plans, the Commission said they were “too tragic” and that parks should be for relaxation “and not for commemoration of massacres.”

A flood of telegrams and letters poured into Mayor Robert Wagner’s office, asking him to reverse the decision which technically he cannot do. He urged the Jewish groups to work out a compromise with the Parks Department and the Art Commission. Expressing “amazement” over the Art Commission’s approval of a memorial project without the consent of organized Jewry in this city, the steering committee planned today to form a broad committee which would conduct an art contest for a monument that would be acceptable both to the city and the Jewish community.

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