Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Darkest Chapter Of A World War

 The National Holocaust Monument lies across the street from the Canadian Firefighters Memorial. It is a stark open air monument that commemorates the Holocaust. A collaborative work, it features the architecture of Daniel Libeskind, the photography of Edward Burtynksy, input from Holocaust scholar Doris Bergen, and landscape architecture by Claude Cormier. This is one of two entrances, heading down a staircase. The other entrance on the far side is accessible for wheelchairs, and an elevator incorporated for the design allows access to the second level.

Down the stairs I went. The angles of the monument are fitting for its subject.

Burtynksy photographed places that featured into the history of the Holocaust as they appear in the current day. His photographs are etched into the walls. Here we have two. Hiding Place, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, Poland is at left, featuring a trench that served as a hiding spot during the worst of the Holocaust. At right is Prayer Room, Theresienstadt, Czech Republic. A place of prayer was created by the Jews suffering in the camp-ghetto at the height of the Holocaust.

Close by is the entrance to a place of reflection. A memorial flame burns in an alcove.

Emerging back out the other side takes us to another Burtynksy work. Abandoned Railbed, Treblinka, Poland shows nature reclaiming the old railbed. Nearly a million people were transported along this spur to the death camp.

Track 17, Berlin, Germany is another such example of the use of infrastructure during the Holocaust. Starting in 1941, trains leaving the freight yards in Berlin transported Jews and others to the concentration camps and death camps.

The most infamous of which is Auschwitz. Burtynksy's photograph, Fence, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland shows it as it appears today, but it is a chilling sight regardless.

Up to the upper landing. The monument comes out to a point, with its view towards Parliament Hill. The spire of the Peace Tower is visible.

I descended back down. A series of panels examines the story of the Holocaust.

Here are some of them.

Across from them is the last of the Burtynsky photographs. Site Of Death March, Near Mauthausen, Austria shows a place as it appears today. In the dying days of the war, with Nazi Germany falling at each front, the Nazis emptied the camps and force marched prisoners to those places still under German control, in an attempt to hide their crimes. 20 000 sick Jewish prisoners were marched along this road. Those who could not keep up were shot and left behind in the ditches.

A final shot from within the Monument.


  1. A peaceful place to remember those lost.

  2. Τhank you for the very interesting post !!!

  3. Sad, important one. And here we are again.
    A tiny man starting a war.

  4. ...and to think that there deniners.

  5. It is a cause for great dismay that antisemitism is on the rise again, and all the old tropes are being revived. We are humans after all, if there's a way to hate and kill each other, why let a good thing go?

  6. It is an impressive and beautiful monument. Have a great day and happy week ahead.

  7. @Italiafinlandia: very much so.

    @Gemel: it really does that.

    @mystelios: you're welcome.

    @Jan: I've always thought so.

    @Iris: it never ends.

    @Tom: denial remains a problem.

    @David: that remains the case.

    @Eileen: thank you.

  8. Such an incredible building.

  9. Since I've been out of commission I've missed so many posts that I'll never catch up. But I'm so glad to see this and know that you have a beautiful museum to commemorate something so tragic. It's heartbreaking, isn't it?

  10. Love the architecture of this building.

  11. These memorials always make me sad. They are built not only to honor the victims but to make sure we never forget, and we must not forget.

  12. I really want to see that memorial!

  13. @Sharon: it is.

    @Jeanie: I've been running behind too in blog reading over the last week or so.

    @Magiceye: thank you.

    @Bill: so do I.

    @Denise: I agree.

    @Marie: it is impressive.

  14. What a sobering sight that building is and still needed to remind us all of the horrors.

  15. La realidad de la crueldad de la segunda guerra Mundial, se está viendo una vez acabada. Ahora parece que la crueldad de una guerra se vive en tiempo real.

  16. A well-done reminder of Man’s inhumanity to man.

  17. Yes, every major city needs a Holocaust centre, we don't have any major ones here but from memory Auckland Museum has a large section dedicated to this, makes me sad as I have Jewish ancestry on my father's side so no doubt I had family die in the 2nd world war.

  18. Thank you most deeply for being a witness today!