Philadelphia is building up one of the oldest Holocaust monuments in the United States.
The statue at the foot of the Ben Franklin Parkway has been in place since 1964, and it will remain as part of a $7 million renovation to the area around it.
The memorial plaza will be a living remembrance of the stories of the millions who died in the concentration camps, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro who joined several officials in a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.
“The Philadelphia way is to reject hate, to reject intolerance, to reject divisiveness and, most importantly, to understand than an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said.
David Adelman, chair of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, said the upgrades will be massive.
“Among these features is the tree grove representing the woodlands that sheltered those who resisted the Nazi regime,” he said. “There will be a remembrance wall with a flame inside burning continuously to symbolize an unwavering sense of hope and light, and we will be bringing in train tracks from the death camp of Treblinka to remember the mass deportations.”
The project will enhance a monument that has been in place for more than 50 years.
“The plaza is not just a tribute to the Jews, political opponents, homosexuals and resistance fighters who were murdered in the Holocaust,” Adelman said. “It’s a place for every Philadelphian and American. One that shows that American values, birthed right here in Philadelphia, endure as a permanent reminder of how to combat hatred and intolerance.”
The expansion is expected to be completed in about a year.