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.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
The Darkest Chapter Of A World War
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.