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  • “Never bow your head, be helpful, and fight for justice and righteousness”: Nathan Rapoport and Philadelphia’s Holocaust Memorial (1964)

Nathan Rapoport’s Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs (figure 1) is a bronze sculpture situated at one of the busiest intersections in Philadelphia.1 The monument depicts two women, two children, hands holding daggers, a rabbi, and a Torah, all surrounded by the flames of a menorah.2 The sculpture was installed in 1964 and is located on a triangular plaza at the corner of Sixteenth and Arch Streets (figure 2), within view of City Hall, at the entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the boulevard where such cultural institutions as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, the Rodin Museum, and the recently moved Barnes Collection (figure 3) are situated. But despite the sculpture’s prominent location, it is rarely designated on maps and has gone practically unremarked in US literature on Holocaust memory.3 The sculpture does not appear in a 1980 brochure, with maps, of public art in the city that was published by the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art. In fact, it was not until 1991 that Rapoport’s sculpture was listed in a book on Philadelphia’s public art.4 Except for services on Holocaust Remembrance Day (hereafter called the “Yizkor Service”)—which takes place annually in April, when thousands of Philadelphians gather to commemorate the six million Jews and the other victims of Nazism who were murdered in the Holocaust—the space receives little formal attention.5 This is not a surprise for the 1960s and 1970s, since during that time, while Jewish communities in the United States were interested in the subject of the Holocaust, non-Jewish Americans had little or no concern for the topic. Philadelphia, however, was an exception.

The monument was commissioned by a base of well-established German-Jewish immigrants as well as by “New Americans” (Holocaust survivors). In 1967, a few years after the monument was installed, the Memorial Committee organized itself under the auspices of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). The Memorial Committee was instrumental in creating one of the earliest Holocaust education programs in US public schools, [End Page 159] organized opposition to antisemitic activities, and brought together Philadelphia’s Christian and Jewish communities.6 So while the general public may have paid little attention to the monument, the Memorial Committee played a large and highly public role in promoting Holocaust memory and Jewish life in Philadelphia.

But public recognition of the monument did not extend outside of the Jewish community until the twenty-first century. This essay seeks to weave Rapoport’s monument into the dialogue of Holocaust memory in the United States by explaining the artist’s sculptural contributions to Holocaust memory, relating the commission of the monument, and explaining the work of the Memorial Committee and its impact on both Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Philadelphia.

Figure 1. Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964.
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Figure 1.

Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964.

Photograph & © Ralph Lieberman, 2007.

[End Page 160]

Figure 2. Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964. View of triangular plaza.
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Figure 2.

Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964. View of triangular plaza.

Photograph © Max Buten, Lower Merion Historical Society, 2016.

Figure 3. Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964. View triangular plaza with Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
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Figure 3.

Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964. View triangular plaza with Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Photograph © Max Buten, Lower Merion Historical Society, 2016.

[End Page 161]

The New York Times did not mention the memorial in its 1987 obituary of Rapoport, instead invoking his more famous Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument of 1948 and his 1983 Liberty Monument, in New Jersey.7 Sibyl Milton, in her 1991 book on Holocaust memorials, briefly mentions Rapoport’s Philadelphia monument, and posits that Rapoport’s work has been forgotten because of 1960s attitudes toward the Holocaust in the United States:

The downtown center-city site, visible daily to thousands of motorists and pedestrians, had little demonstrable resonance, in part a response to the florid and heavy-handed design and in part a reflection of its awkward location on an island on a heavily traveled urban street. It was perhaps still too early in the mid-1960s for the average American to perceive the Holocaust as more than an uncomfortable foreign experience.8

Peter Novick echoes Milton’s remarks. In his study on the Holocaust in American life, he writes that in the 1960s:

no monuments or memorials were constructed, except for a few of commemorative plaques on synagogue walls…nobody in these years seemed to have had much to say on the subject, at least in public. . . . Contemporary observers who commented on the matter were struck by how little American Jews talked about—or, so far as they could tell, thought about—the Holocaust between the end of the war and the 1960s.9

The literature supports Milton’s and Novick’s claims that the public’s attention to the Holocaust in 1960s America was limited in intensity and scope. Books, films, and articles about the Holocaust did not focus on the harrowing details of the lives of victims and survivors in concentration camps, death camps, or on death marches. Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl, for instance, published in English in 1959, brought to an American audience the story of a young girl in hiding, not the story of life in a concentration camp or death camp.10 When the book was adapted for stage and screen in the early 1960s, “the more identifiably Jewish parts of the Diary—Anne’s nightmare, the Hannukah celebration, and the Gestapo hammering on the Franks’ door—never appeared . . . because the producers, who were themselves Jewish, felt compelled by their own sense of what would sell to ‘tone down’ the play’s Jewishness.”11 They believed that the story would be more successful if it had a universal appeal about the strength of the human spirit. In 1962, the Eichmann Trial brought public attention to a war criminal’s life and activities, but the focus was on Eichmann and his crimes, not on the lives of victims and survivors.12 Hannah Arendt published a series of articles about the trial in the New Yorker, reaching a large but limited public audience, and focusing on the bureaucratic criminal mind, a phenomenon she called the “banality of evil.”13 In 1978, American public television aired Holocaust, but that miniseries, like the published diary of Anne Frank, tended to downplay the Jewish dimensions of the characters, prioritizing entertainment over education.14 The Holocaust became a more integral part of America’s story in 1979, when then President Jimmy [End Page 162] Carter initiated its federal memorialization, which in 1993 took the form of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, firmly placing the Holocaust into the United States’ understanding of itself as a nation. 15 In the same year the museum opened, Schindler’s List became a Hollywood blockbuster and director Steven Spielberg sent free copies of the film to every high school in the United States, along with an educational supplement.16 But in the 1960s, the general non-Jewish public did not have access to direct descriptions of life in the camps or the plight of Holocaust survivors in the postwar years.

Rapoport’s Philadelphia sculpture might have received more attention if Rapoport himself had become a more famous artist. But he appears in neither Oxford Art Online nor Grove Art Online, both art and art history research databases. Nor did he achieve great fame in Israel, where a film produced in 2003 carried a telling title: Nathan Rapoport: From the Holocaust of Man to the Holocaust of the Artist: The Artist that Israel Forgot.17 James E. Young writes that “a sculptor like Nathan Rapoport will never be regarded by art historians as highly as his contemporaries Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore. . . . Unabashedly figurative, heroic, and referential, his work seems doomed critically by precisely those qualities . . . that make it monumental . . . it may be just this public appeal . . . that leads such memorials to demand public and historical disclosure, even as they condemn themselves to critical obscurity.”18 Just as Young was one of the first scholars to bring the history of Rapoport’s Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial out of obscurity,19 so too do I attempt to elucidate the history behind another obscure work by the artist, his 1964 Philadelphia monument. One way to reveal its history is to examine the inscriptions on the monument’s base, which was not installed until 1966 (its construction was delayed due to lack of finances). The three inscriptions in English, and one in Yiddish and Hebrew, make clear its purpose as a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. The side of the base facing the triangular plaza lists, under the word “Remember” in English and Hebrew, the concentration camps, death camps, and sites of mass murder in which relatives of Philadelphia survivors died. The side facing Sixteenth Street reads:

The Holocaust 1933–1945 Now and forever enshrined in memory are the six million Jewish martyrs who perished in concentration camps ghettos and gas chambers in their deepest agony they clung to the image of humanity and their acts of resistance in the forests and ghettos redeemed the honor of man the suffering and heroism are forever branded upon our conscience and shall be remembered from generation to generation

One side of the base is written in both Yiddish (the first line) and Hebrew (the last line) and faces Arch Street. It is the only inscription on the base that explicitly names “the Nazis”: [End Page 163]

In memory of the six million Jewish Holy Souls, who persevered through the Nazis 1933–1945 Remember our brothers, the Holiness of HaShem, who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis.20

Finally, the side of the base facing Benjamin Franklin Parkway reads:

Presented to the City of Philadelphia The Association of Jewish New Americans In Cooperation with the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia April 26, 1964

This essay takes this last inscription as a point of departure, as it clearly states that two groups dedicated the monument: the Association of Jewish New Americans (hereafter AJNA) and the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia (hereafter the Federation), which represent two very separate groups of Jews living in Philadelphia at the time. An examination of Rapoport’s other work related to the Holocaust places the monument into a context of the artist’s sculpture dedicated to the Holocaust.

Nathan Rapoport: Sculptor of Holocaust Memorials

Rapoport created Holocaust monuments, or public sculptures that referred to the Holocaust, that were installed in Poland, Israel, and the United States. One of the challenges in analyzing his works is that there is a dearth of published material about him. Richard Yaffe’s Nathan Rapoport: Sculptures and Monuments (1980) is the only publication that provides an overview of the artist’s life and work.21 While the narrative appears to be chronological, dates are rarely provided for either Rapoport’s life or for specific works of art. James E. Young covers much of the same material regarding Rapoport’s most famous work of art, his 1948 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, and bases his narrative on a 1986 interview with the artist, as well as on Yaffe’s book.22 In discussing aspects of the artist’s life that have particular bearing on the Philadelphia monument, I refer to these sources, as well as to my interview with Edward Gastfriend, a Holocaust survivor involved with the Philadelphia monument’s commission, and with whom Rapoport stayed when he visited Philadelphia.23

Rapoport’s Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument brought him international acclaim among Jewish communities but Western art critics, especially, saw it as “Socialist Realist kitsch.”24 Given its historical importance, the work’s style seems to have cemented this impression by critics, but not all of his works fall into this category. Many of his early works, as I hope to demonstrate, were highly naturalistic, not Socialist Realist, while the Philadelphia monument incorporates both elements of abstraction and naturalism. Unfortunately, there are no extant documents that show why Rapoport moved from a completely [End Page 164] naturalistic style to an expressionist semi-figurative style. One can only guess that life circumstances and exposure to different kinds of art moved him to experiment with different styles. Rapoport was especially influenced by the work of Lipchitz, with whom he became life-long friends. (Rapoport’s experimentation in abstraction might have been a result of this friendship.)

Rapoport was born in 1911 to working-class Jewish parents in Warsaw. At age fourteen, he hoped to study painting at the Warsaw Municipal School of Art but chose to study sculpture after learning there were no available spots open for painting students. (Gastfriend claims that Rapoport was rejected from the academy, possibly because he was Jewish. In Gastfriend’s account, a professor sympathetic to Rapoport suggested that he start out in sculpture, with the goal of later transfer to painting.)25 Rapoport gravitated toward the monumental aspect of sculpture, completed busts of local families to earn money, and soon thereafter entered the Warsaw Academy of Art. He was then a member of Hashomer Hatsai’ir (Young Guard), a left-wing Zionist youth organization, but saw his art as neither particularly Jewish nor contemporary. In 1936 he received a scholarship to study at the Fine Arts Academy in Paris and another to travel to Italy. That same year his sculpture Tennis Player, a highly naturalistic work, won a “sports in art”-themed competition at the Warsaw Academy of Art. The Polish government informed him that they wanted to send Tennis Player to Berlin for an international exhibition that year. When the artist replied that he was uncomfortable sending the sculpture to Hitler’s Germany, the committee told him to either send the sculpture to Berlin or return the prize money. He chose the latter.26 Although he studied for some time in Paris among the avant-garde, Rapoport remained dedicated to the human form partly, according to Yaffe, as a result of his stay in Italy and his studies of Michelangelo. He managed to return to Paris in 1938 for an international competition, where he met Lipchitz for the first time. Rapoport, Lipchitz, and Le Corbusier all won prizes at the competition.27

Rapoport returned to Warsaw in June 1939, just months before the Germans invaded Poland. Taking his portfolio with him, Rapoport and other artists fled to the USSR, settling in Bialystok. Russian authorities soon called Rapoport to Minsk to work for its Art Commission, which appreciated his figurative sculpture.28 Not long after, the Nazis overran Bialystok and Rapoport never heard from his fellow Polish artists there again. In Minsk, he was provided a studio and received the favorable attention of, and commissions from, Mikhail Vasil’evich Kulagin, the Second Secretary of the Communist Party of the Belorussian Republic. Rapoport continued to work in Minsk until the Germans arrived, at which time he fled with his family via train to Alma Ata (today, Almaty), Kazakhstan. There, he was drafted into a labor battalion and was sent to Novosibirsk. Coincidentally, Kulagin, since promoted to first secretary, was there at the same time, heard of Rapoport’s plight, removed the artist from the labor battalion, brought his family from Alma Ata to Novosibirsk, and provided Rapoport with an apartment and studio.

In 1943 news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising reached Rapoport via the Jewish historian Mark Berl. In 1940 the Germans packed 400,000 Jews into the [End Page 165] 1.3 square miles of the walled-off Warsaw Ghetto. By 1942, hundreds of thousands had been deported to their deaths or killed in the ghetto and the 55,000 to 60,000 Jews still living there were threatened with deportation. Groups of underground Jewish organizations, numbering about 500 individuals and led by Mordecai Anielewicz, organized efforts to resist deportation beginning on April 19, 1943. Armed with pistols, grenades (many homemade), and a few automatic weapons, they resisted deportation until Anielewicz was captured on May 8. Jews continued to hide until May 16, when the Germans destroyed the entire ghetto. It was the longest and most coordinated Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.29 As soon as Rapoport heard news of the uprising he started work on the clay model (maquette) of the monument, and took it to the Moscow Art Commission. Members stated that the model was “too narrow— nationalistic in approach,” an attitude which Young convincingly argues was code for “too Jewish.”30 After the war, Rapoport took the model to the Jewish Committee in Warsaw, which saw to it that the monument was built.

This work (figure 4) made him famous as a sculptor of Holocaust memorials and cemented his reputation as a Socialist Realist sculptor. While the details of its commission can be found elsewhere, important here is the fact that Rapoport employed the figurative style in which he was trained in Warsaw, and which he continued to develop in the Soviet Union.31 Janet Ward describes the Warsaw monument as being designed in the “victorious anti-fascist style of Socialist Realism [that] cannot be repeated these days without trespassing into the territory of overbearing kitsch.”32 I would argue, however, the styles of the “fighters” and the “martyrs” differ greatly. While the “fighters” side is highly naturalistic (one can see details of clothing and veins on hands) the “martyrs” side is naturalistic, but does not display the heroism of Soviet socialist realism (figure 5); one could hardly call this side “Socialist Realist kitsch.” Nonetheless, the ideological meaning of the monument is unambiguous: to situate Holocaust memory with an emphasis on resistors and heroes. Fifteen thousand people attended its unveiling, including guests from the United States and Israel.33 Soon after, Rapoport moved to Paris, around 1948.34 In the early 1950s he took up residence in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv, and also established a studio and apartment in New York City.35

In the years between the completion of the Warsaw monument and the installation of the Philadelphia monument, Rapoport received various commissions, about which little has been written. Worth mentioning is Rapoport’s highly naturalistic monument for Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz named in 1943 for Mordechai Anielewicz, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The kibbutz was the scene of a battle with Egyptians in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. In commissioning Rapoport’s monument, the kibbutz aimed to recognize the heroism of its fighters in 1948, the heroism of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters in 1943, and all the way back to the young David (later King David) in the biblical story of David and Goliath. Rapoport situated the sculpture in front of a water tower damaged in the 1948 fighting, thereby emphasizing the heroic nature of the figure. A monument for Kibbutz Negba was dedicated to the fighting of 1948, and for which Rapoport chose heroic, Socialist Realist figures including [End Page 166] an Israeli soldier, a pioneer and a nurse. The figures stand side by side, hands locked. These commissions cemented Rapoport’s reputation as a sculptor of monuments dedicated to Jewish resistance. Each is naturalistic, emphasizing heroism, a theme important for the new State of Israel.36

Figure 4. Nathan Rapoport, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, Warsaw, Poland, 1948. Bronze. Detail: Fighter’s Relief.
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Figure 4.

Nathan Rapoport, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, Warsaw, Poland, 1948. Bronze. Detail: Fighter’s Relief.

Photograph © Adrian Grycuk, 2013.

While the Yad Mordechai, Kibbutz Negba, and Warsaw monuments depicted victims who were heroes and resistance fighters in a Socialist Realist style, the Philadelphia monument focuses on figures who might be innocent victims, survivors, or children and are depicted in an expressionistic, semi-figurative style (figure 1). The female figure at the base of the Philadelphia monument (figure 6), her head thrown back, physically supports the entire sculpture. The figure is clearly a woman, but Rapoport does not provide many naturalistic details. Markings on the original clay are visible. The highly figurative male [End Page 167] figure (often called the “rabbi” in newspaper articles) is one of the few overtly Jewish figures in the sculpture. The figure’s arms are raised and fingers parted in the recognizable ancient gesture of Jewish priestly benediction (figure 6). On his forehead he wears the tefillin, or phylacteries, used daily in prayer by observant Jews. In certain light, however, when stark contrasts between protruding and receding elements are visually emphasized, this overtly Jewish feature might go unnoticed. Abstract and roughly worked figures of a mother and child emerge from the abstract flames above the woman’s legs (figure 7), and a nearby child reaches for safety. One bronze hand, so figurative that one sees protruding veins, holds the Torah aloft (figure 8). The Torah, however, is sculpted in such a way that the two scrolls might be mistaken for abstract forms. Two other highly figurative hands, unattached to bodies and their veins bulging, hold daggers: a tribute to Jewish resistance during the Holocaust (figure 8). While the flames surrounding the figures take on sharp, abstract, geometric angles (figure 8; this might be the reason some sources refer to “barbed wire”), the flames at the top of the sculpture are rounded, fanning out as a Hanukah menorah does, thus metaphorically blending the “flames of destruction” (i.e., the Holocaust) with the “flames of resistance” (the flames of the candles of the hanukkiah, or Hanukah menorah, traditionally associated with heroic Jewish resistance to tyranny related in the Book of the Maccabees, and celebrated during Hanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights).

The focus on “all victims,” ordinary children, men, and women (including resistance fighters), was important for American Jewish organizations. Unlike in Israel, Jews in the United States preferred not to represent themselves as fighters and resistors exclusively, although that was the default choice in the late 1940s and 1950s.37 The United States came out of World War II a world power, while Israel was a fledgling state under attack by its neighbors. Thus Rapoport chooses different styles for different countries, adapting his central concerns to particular commissions. But in many ways, Rapoport was working in a vacuum when it came to creating public sculpture about the Holocaust.

No distinct vocabulary for memorializing the Holocaust had yet been developed in American artistic circles. Up until the mid-1960s, for instance, Yad Vashem (the Israeli site of Holocaust memory) discouraged American Jewish institutions from creating Holocaust memorials. The administrators of Israel’s national site of Holocaust memory saw themselves as solely responsible for the task.38 Yet by the end of the decade, Yad Vashem revised its policy of non-support for Holocaust memorials in other countries. The debate over the never-constructed New York City Holocaust memorial shows how the Jewish community, and artists, tried to find a visual form appropriate to the enormity of the Holocaust.

Rapoport submitted a maquette of Scroll of Fire to the New York, New York commission. The scale model consisted of two larger-than-life-sized “scrolls,” on which were depicted figurative scenes of Jewish resistance from biblical times to the present, including scenes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. According to Godfrey, Eleanor Platt, of the New York City Art Commission, thought that the sculpture “would create a ‘precedent’, encouraging other ‘special [End Page 168]

Figure 5. Nathan Rapoport, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, Warsaw, Poland, 1948. Bronze. Detail: Martyr’s Relief.
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Figure 5.

Nathan Rapoport, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, Warsaw, Poland, 1948. Bronze. Detail: Martyr’s Relief.

Photograph © Dr. Avishai Teicher, 2013.

Figure 6. Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964.
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Figure 6.

Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964.

Photograph © Max Buten, Lower Merion Historical Society, 2016.

[End Page 169]

Figure 7. Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964. Detail: Abstract woman and child.
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Figure 7.

Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite; 18’ in height, 1964. Detail: Abstract woman and child.

Photograph © Max Buten, Lower Merion Historical Society, 2016.

Figure 8. Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite. Height of sculpture: 18’, 1964. Detail: Hand holding Torah and hands holding daggers and flames.
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Figure 8.

Nathan Rapoport, Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 16th and Arch Streets. Bronze and granite. Height of sculpture: 18’, 1964. Detail: Hand holding Torah and hands holding daggers and flames.

Photograph © Max Buten, Lower Merion Historical Society, 2016.

[End Page 170]

groups’ to approach the city in order to have their communities’ histories represented” (a statement that might be read as belittling the Holocaust’s importance to non-Jews and implying that memorializing the Holocaust is problematic only because Jews may further press their parochial interests as a “special group”).39 Platt’s statement echoes that of the Moscow Art Commission, which deemed Rapoport’s maquette for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument “too nationalistic. Platt’s statement that might (also) be read as “too Jewish” and was perhaps only one reason the sculpture was not chosen. (In the end, Rapoport’s model was not chosen for the New York City memorial, but in 1971 the finished sculpture was installed in Martys Forest in in Israel’s Jerusalem Hills.)

In the 1960s and 70s, sculpture was entering a phase of what Rosalind Krauss calls “the expanded field,” and that Lucy Lippard refers to as “the dematerialization of the art object.”40 Sculpture was no longer a discrete object in space, made of wood, stone, bronze or clay, meant to be viewed in a gallery—especially in New York City, arguably the center of the art world at the time. Sculpture was being completely redefined; it could be made of fiberglass, rubber or felt, or it could be a performance. So Rapoport’s model, which depictured figurative scenes of Jewish history, might have looked out of date to the New York Art Commission—even in a context where public art was not yet the norm.

Early public art programs favored works by icons of modernism. The first “Percent for Art” program in the United States was initiated in 1959 in Philadelphia. Devoted to “aesthetic ornamentation of city structures,” the Percent for Art program ensured that approximately 1 percent of the construction cost of public buildings were set aside for “art allocation.”41 In her history of Philadelphia’s program, Penny Balkin Bach writes that “it was thought that public art on a more human scale might be able to salvage an increasingly bleak urban environment.”42 (Since the commission of the Memorial to the Six Million Martyrs was not associated with the construction of a public building, public funds were not available). The national move toward public art began in the 1970s, when works by icons of modernism were most often chosen: Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, and Henry Moore, all artists who were not working in the “expanded field,”43 but were employing modernist abstraction. So while the implicit meaning of Platt’s comment may have been that the work was “too Jewish,” she might have also implied that the sculpture did not fit the latest conceptions of sculpture. Louis Kahn was approached by the Art Commission to design a model for New York memorial. It, unlike Rapoport’s model, employed a modern, stripped-down aesthetic. In fact, it was so devoid of symbols that Kahn was encouraged by the commission to include some elements symbolic of Judaism. He changed the model accordingly (but the memorial was never built, a history that has been detailed in other publications).44

For decades, scholars and artists have struggled with the issue of how to represent the Holocaust in visual form, a dialogue in which Rapoport did not participate. Theodor W. Adorno’s dictum that “to write poetry after the Holocaust is barbaric” triggered debates concerning the limits of representation.45 [End Page 171] He would revisit the statement again and again, and Saul Friedländer points out that often overlooked is another Adorno statement: “the abundance of real suffering . . . demands the continued existence of art [even as] it prohibits it. It is now virtually in art alone that suffering can still find its own voice, consolation, without immediately being betrayed by it. The most important artists of the age have realized this.”46 Rudy Koshar explains that Henry Moore, selected to chair an international competition for the design of a Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz, conceded the difficulty of memory as it pertained to the plastic arts when he asked in 1958, “Is it in fact possible to create a work of art that can express the emotions engendered by Auschwitz?”47 “Berel Lang,” Koshar convincingly writes, answers “in the negative, arguing that only ‘literal’ representations could adequately address the memory of this, the century’s most viciously literal event. . . . Lawrence Langer has argued that the oral testimony of the camps’ survivors ‘resists the organizing impulse of moral theory and art.’”48 One of the strongest voices in this ongoing debate is that of Friedländer, who argues that “the extermination of the Jews of Europe is as accessible to both representation and interpretation as any other historical event. But we are dealing with an event which tests our traditional conceptual and representational categories, an ‘event at the limits.’”49 Rapoport, however, did not participate in a dialogue about the possibility of making art after the Holocaust. In the USSR, where Rapoport worked from 1941 to 1945, Jews did not have the opportunity to question whether representation of the Holocaust was possible. They were, instead, trying desperately to make public the basic facts of Einsatzgruppen activities in Ukraine under a government that did not, until the 1990s, allow those facts to be made public.

At the same time that Rapoport was creating the model for his monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, for instance, Ilya Ehrenberg and Vasily Grossman tried to publish The Black Book—that detailed the 1942 wartime massacres, including the largest, at Babi Yar, where 35,000 Jews were killed in three days—to no avail. 50 Soviet authorities would not allow publication until 1944. In this context, his use of socialist realism in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument can be seen as Rapoport’s attempt to tell a visual story with details that would be clear to the viewer. The historical context of Rapoport making a Warsaw monument while living in the USSR, however, was quite different than when he was working in Paris and Israel, making a monument dedicated to Holocaust survivors, which was, in turn, commissioned by survivors in Philadelphia.

The Commission

Rapoport was commissioned to create the Philadelphia monument by the Committee for a Memorial for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, established in 1962 (hereafter referred to as the Six Million Committee; not to be confused with the Memorial Committee, established in 1967).51 It was made up of individuals from two organizations: AJNA and the Federation. Dalck Feith was [End Page 172] chair of the Six Million Committee and vice chairman of the Federation. Edward Gastfriend was vice chair of the Six Million Committee and vice president of the AJNA. Harold Greenspan, meanwhile, was also vice chair of the Six Million Committee and treasurer of the AJNA, and Abram Shnaper was founder and president of the AJNA. Each was fundamental in moving the project forward.52 These two organizations demonstrate how a group of survivors of limited economic means (the AJNA) worked together—albeit not always easily—with an organization of primarily wealthy Jewish businessmen of German descent (the Federation) to commission, raise funds for, and install the monument. Up until this time, the two Jewish groups moved in completely different spheres of Jewish life in the city.

The articles of incorporation detail the role of the Six Million Committee. It makes clear that the goals of the committee were not only to build the monument, but to foster awareness and education about the Holocaust in Philadelphia:

To foster understanding and appreciation for American principles and democratic institutions, to educate Americans about the dangers and evils of dictatorship, to memorialize the six million Jewish martyrs of Nazi persecution by the erection of a monument in their memory, to act otherwise solely for charitable and educational purposes, including contributions to Gratz College, Philadelphia for a course in contemporary Jewish history, and contributions to [non-profit] organizations.53

As a teenager, Shnaper had known Rapoport in Poland, where they were both members of Hashomer Hatsai’ir.54 In 1953 Shnaper organized Holocaust survivors into the AJNA in Philadelphia, which was one of about a dozen such organizations in the United States.55 From 1953 on, the group of one hundred and fifty families “met in hired halls and held a service in Yiddish, giving speeches and writing poetry about the horrible days during World War II.”56 The AJNA provided emotional and social support for the survivors. At the time, the phrases “Jewish New Americans” or “greeners” referred to Jews who had survived the Holocaust and come to the United States. (The term “Holocaust survivor” did not become commonplace until the 1970s. Following this trend, 1982 the AJNA changed its name to the Association of Holocaust Survivors.)57 According to Shnaper, by 1961, following an incident of radical right antisemitic activity in Philadelphia, the survivors were galvanized to start a fundraising campaign for a monument to the six million.58 In an AJNA quarterly bulletin, a column called “Our Youngsters Write” gathered reactions of young Jews to the lack of Holocaust education in the schools. One young writer stated that he supported the construction of a monument because of the lack of this topic in schools:

The neglect of our usually praised educators to mention the savagery and inhumanity which befell the Jews during their catastrophe is positively unforgivable. If a free and unprejudiced society is to exist the public must be educated so that the masses will be aware of what could happen, when fanaticism and intolerance secure domination.59 [End Page 173]

The members of the Federation, on the other hand, consisted of a strong network of Jews who were businessmen in Philadelphia. Among its administration were three men who became active in the commission of the memorial: President Sylvan Cohen, Vice President Dalck Feith (noted above), and Leonard Goldfine, a philanthropist. Feith, as a Holocaust survivor and successful businessman, proved to be the one person who could easily communicate with both the AJNA and the Federation. A brief synopsis of his personal history helps us to understand why he was so invested in the monument.60

Originally from Niebylec, Galicia (present-day Poland), Feith had been a member of the Zionist group Betar, the youth movement of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Union of Zionist Revisionists.61 Working in the 1930s as a merchant seaman on ships from many countries, Feith helped European Jews escape Nazi Europe by smuggling them aboard those ships. He had done preparatory work to immigrate to Palestine, but did not receive a permit to do so from the Palestine administration, most likely, he told his family, because permits were dispensed by Zionist officials who were politically opposed to Jabotinsky and Betar. At war’s outbreak, he was working on a British merchant ship. Soon after, the British sent Feith to Glasgow to train as a marine engineer. In January 1942 he sailed on a British merchant ship to Nova Scotia, where he transferred to an Estonian merchant ship headed for Newport News, Virginia. There he entered the United States and decided to head for Philadelphia, a large, not-too-distant city with a Jewish population. Upon his arrival, he sought out federal authorities at the Customs House and volunteered for service. Impressed with his many languages, his skill with marine engines, and his knowledge of European ports, officials at the Customs House helped him get a job in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where ships were being built for the war effort, and then arranged for him to join the US Merchant Marine.62 During the war the Germans killed Feith’s parents, four of his sisters, and his three brothers.

After the war, John Stern of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) helped Feith start Dalco Manufacturing Company, which made metal boxes for electronic components. (They were used, for example, for microwave equipment for a company that in the 1950s pioneered development of America’s cable television industry, in which Feith invested heavily.) By the 1960s Feith had amassed substantial wealth and was a major donor to many Jewish and non-Jewish causes.63 His closest friend was J. Sydney Hoffman, a judge, through whom Feith became acquainted with many prominent Philadelphians, such as politicians, judges, and City Hall officials. As a survivor admired by many in the city for his wartime service to the United States, for his “American dream” business success, and for his philanthropic generosity, Feith developed friendships with many influential people in Philadelphia business, political, and social circles. In the Jewish community, Feith was known and trusted by both the AJNA and the Federation. His sympathies were clearly with all Jews, whether long-standing citizens of Philadelphia, or “Jewish New Americans.”64

It was Feith’s role to secure one-half of the funds for the monument from the Federation. In an oral interview (in the early 1980s the Federation conducted [End Page 174] oral interviews with important individuals in the Jewish community to document that community’s history), he detailed the difficulties in convincing the Federation that the project was a worthy one. He drew attention to long-standing divisions between the established Jewish community and new immigrants:

My main problem was that the opposition came from the Federation. At that time I was a little macher [go-getter]. People meant well but didn’t have the understanding. Six million Jews deserve a monument. I was told at the Federation by the Executive Committee and by the Board; they told me they need hospitals and let’s look forward. And I had to be very diplomatic. I hate to tell you what I wanted to say. But I wanted to win, and in order to win you have to keep your mouth closed. But I stood up to some people and apologized to some people, and finally I won it. I’m very proud of that money. The monument was the first one in the United States of that kind.65

Feith noted that the Federation “was once under the domination of the German Jews.” The interviewer asks, “Were there still remnants of that kind of thing in the 1960s?” Feith answers, “You always had that kind of thing around.”66

Feith not only procured a major gift from the Federation for the monument—he donated money himself. Rapoport recalled in 1984 that “one man saved the hour through his generosity and commitment to the project. Feith, a Jewish communal leader, contributed the remaining funds needed to complete the monument.”67 Feith’s donation did not go unnoticed by Shnaper, who wrote in a letter to Feith:

Our sages have written, “there are three crowns: the crown of learning; the crown of priesthood; and the crown of royalty.” However, the crown of good name excels them all because it alone is a tribute to the personality and character of the man. It was this “crown” that you lent us when you elected to work with our Association of Jewish New Americans in bringing our great dream to realization . . . we know we must thank you from the very depths of our hearts, because together with our strenuous efforts and all the valuable time you so generously gave our project, it was the well-earned goodness of your name, truly a crown, which in the end brought our Monument to recognition of the entire community.68

By December 1964, the AJNA had contributed $12,788, the Federation had contributed $13,283, and other contributions totaled $21,136. With interest earned, the total funds raised was $47,078. Rapoport was paid $40,000.69 While the exact amount of Feith’s contribution is unclear, the AJNA was about 40 percent short of their contribution goal. It is reasonable to assume that Feith’s donations made up for that shortfall.70

Once having convinced the Federation to support the monument, the committee then needed the mayor’s approval. Feith, Gastfriend and Shnaper approached Mayor James H. J. Tate and City Council Head Paul D’Ortona to [End Page 175] secure approval of the monument as a gift to the city. The mayor accepted the gift. But his approval “didn’t mean anything,” Feith explained, without the assent of Art Commission, which was “totally waspy.”

Feith, Gastfriend, Goldie Hoffman (the politically active wife of Feith’s friend J. Sydney Hoffman), and Rapoport made a presentation to the Art Commission. Rapoport brought with him an eighteen-inch bronze model of the monument (figure 9).71 Unlike the monument, the model is highly abstract. The figure of the rabbi with outstretched arms, for instance, can barely be made out on the model, but the hands parted in priestly benediction are clearly visible. While the flames at the top of the bronze model are recognizable, the figure of the woman at its base is absent altogether. According to Gastfriend, Rapoport was keenly aware that members of the Orthodox Jewish community might be insulted by the semi-figurative female form. Nevertheless, the artist chose to clearly depict a female in the final version, despite his own reservations.72 Another extant version of the monument is a plaster cast that depicts the Torah, children, hand with daggers, and the female figure at the base. But the head of the female figure is missing altogether, or is bent so far forward it cannot be seen. (The model was kept in a garage for some time, and some pieces fell off. It is therefore unclear whether the full female figure was ever part of the plaster model.)73 There is no evidence, however, that Rapoport ever showed the plaster model to the Art Commission. Instead, he and the Six Million Committee presented the more abstract bronze model.

The bronze model presented to the Art Commission in January 1964 was in fact so abstract that Guiseppi Donato, the only sculptor on the Art Commission, questioned whether the symbolism of the sculpture was appropriate. He said he preferred a monument that “represents the great sacrifice of the Jews,”74 i.e., with recognizable Jewish symbolism. According to Gastfriend, at this meeting Rapoport did not explain that there would be overt, semi-figurative details of the Torah, the dying mother, or hands with daggers in the monument.75 Since the monument was already at the casting stage, Art Commission Chairman Roy F. Larson said it was not the time to suggest changes but to determine if the gift was acceptable; the gift was made public on January 9, 1964.76 The Art Commission accepted the gift, but had yet to determine where it would be installed.

At the same time, however, there is some evidence that the Six Million Committee had its own hesitations about Rapoport’s model. A letter dated January 10, 1964, from Jacques Lipchitz to Lucille Weinstock, Treasurer of the Six Million Committee, indicates that he was responding to her request for an evaluation of Rapoport and the monument. Lipchitz writes, “To tell the truth I was very surprised that a great Jewish artist like Rapoport needs a recommendation from anybody. It does not really pay honor to the Philadelphia Jews to need such a thing. I have seen Rapoport working this summer in Italy. It is a superb work of art, and does not need any recommendation.”77 As the Art Commission accepted the model on January 9, it appears the committee went ahead and supported the monument, even without yet receiving Lipchitz’s letter. [End Page 176]

Figure 9. Nathan Rapoport, Untitled. Monument to the Six Million Martyrs, 1963. Bronze. Detail: Rabbi with outstretched hands.
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Figure 9.

Nathan Rapoport, Untitled. Monument to the Six Million Martyrs, 1963. Bronze. Detail: Rabbi with outstretched hands.

Photograph © the Dalck & Rose Feith Family, National Museum of American Jewish History, 2014.

Still, the bronze model was abstract, whereas the final sculpture clearly combines abstraction and figuration, including overt symbols of Jewish resistance, religion, and martyrdom. Why? It is the case that some of Rapoport’s models are more abstract than the final sculptures, as photographs in Yaffe’s 1980 book make clear. Examples include the model for the Brotherhood of Man (1986; sculpture in Toronto, Canada), and the model for Gad Manela (date unknown, sculpture in Tel Itzhak, Israel).78 It is also possible that in the meeting Rapoport described what would be changed in the actual monument (minutes of the meeting do not exist). Feith’s son remembers that, in the 1970s, he asked [End Page 177] his father why Rapoport’s bronze model (then in the Feith family home) was more abstract than the finished sculpture. Feith responded that he and Goldie Hoffman thought the “more abstract” model would be more acceptable to the Art Commission than a model with overt Jewish references, though it is not clear whether Feith and Hoffman then knew that the finished sculpture would be more figurative.79 While there is no written documentation to support the son’s anecdote, it does demonstrate that Feith and Hoffman (and perhaps Gastfriend and Rapoport) were apprehensive about approaching the “blue-blood” Art Commission, but that the Art Commission, in turn, wondered why there was not more Jewish symbolism in the model.

The extant documents relating to the monument’s commission do not outline any criteria regarding content or style. Nonetheless, Shnaper and Gastfriend, in interviews given years later, recalled that they spoke at length with Rapoport on these matters. Shnaper provided Rapoport with three criteria: to make visible the theme of resistance during the Holocaust (symbolized by the hands with daggers); the destruction of Judaism (symbolized by the flames and the woman at the base of the sculpture), and life after the Holocaust (symbolized by the Torah).80 Gastfriend relates that Rapoport believed that “Jewish symbolism had to be built into the Monument.”81 The latter part of the commission, “life after the Holocaust,” was a new element for the artist to address, as Rapoport’s previous works primarily depicted resistors and victims. Gastfriend, reflecting on the monument in 2013, stated that “There was a time when people felt that Jews were going like sheep to the slaughterhouse. Since I was part of it [the commission], I felt it was important that the monument show elements of resistance.”82 From Rapoport’s point of view, the recent immigrants to the city “somehow felt that they would not be able to start a new life without paying tribute to the tragic past.”83

Originally, the Federation hoped to install the monument at Gratz College, the oldest independent college of Jewish Studies in North America, located in Philadelphia at Tenth Avenue and Tabor Road, a rather remote side street north of Center City, and a foundation stone was laid in 1962.84 But Shnaper, Feith, and Gastfriend insisted that the monument be placed in a prominent location in the city, fearing that its message would be lost at the marginal geographical location near Gratz College. Worried about a permanent home for the sculpture, Rapoport wrote from New York that a spot should be secured from the city.85

Rapoport detailed the progress on the sculpture, to be publicly unveiled in April 1964, in a series of letters to Shnaper. He chose to cast the monument in Pietrasanta, Italy, as it was less expensive than casting it in New York or Paris.86 In a letter written from Pietrasanta, Rapoport states that he had invited Lipchitz to see the work, and that the artist gave him “two, three good suggestions. He agreed that the statue is well designed.”87 Rapoport suggested text for the engraving of the base in a July 1963 letter to Shnaper, making clear that the monument should not be dedicated without a base: [End Page 178]

I am not a writer, excuse me, and therefore don’t take it to heart, but I would write: “In Memory of the Greatest Sorrow and Courage” (in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English). On the third side: The monument was erected by the Association of Jewish New Americans—19th April, 1964.88

In April 1964, two weeks before the monument’s unveiling, the artist described it to the media as “a majestic work, full of sentiment and sorrow, which wants to signify that even in times of peace humanity does not forget.”89

Jewish public response in the Philadelphia press emphasized the monument’s appeal not only to the Jewish community but to all Philadelphians. Rabbi Louis Parks, of the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association said that “this is a fitting statue for the City of Brotherly Love. I like to think of it not only as a memorial to the Jewish martyrs of World War II, but of all martyrs—Jewish and Christian alike.”90 Feith echoed this sentiment, saying the monument “should prove to be an inspiration for all freedom loving people.”91 By that time, the Art Commission had approved a Center City location, but the exact site had not yet been agreed upon. By April 3, 1964, just twenty-one days before its dedication, the Art Commission announced that the memorial would eventually be placed in the proposed Freedom Square in the new West Plaza of City Hall. At a meeting of the Fairmount Park Commission on March 9, 1964, Mr. Day of the commission advised that the City Planning Commission “has suggested the triangular piece of ground under the jurisdiction of the Fairmount Park Commission at the northwest corner of Sixteenth and Arch Streets, until such time as a permanent site is chosen.”92 As an alternative, Sister Gloria Coleman, of the Catholic Diocese, arranged to have the empty lot at the Catholic high school, at the corner of Sixteenth and Arch Streets, available for the monument. Her offer was declined by the commission, as Rapoport preferred the triangular plaza across the street at Sixteenth and Arch Streets, as the sculpture would be seen from many sides (i.e., seen from Arch Street, Sixteenth Street, and Benjamin Franklin Parkway).93 But her participation at this stage of the process was remarkable and demonstrates willingness of the Catholic Church to work with the Jewish community in remembering the Holocaust. The location of Sixteenth and Arch Streets was approved by the Philadelphia Office of the Commissioners on April 13, 1964 and the Fairmount Park Association officially accepted the location at their April 16, 1964 meeting.94 The monument remains to this day at this location. Committee meetings minutes from 1966 indicate that plans to move it to West Plaza of City Hall were soon forgotten.95 According to Gastfriend, the artist was overjoyed at this central location, and took many photographs of the site in order to fully understand how the sunlight there would hit the monument.96 The Federation accepted the change in location, but not without debate.97

The sculpture was unveiled at a dedication service April 26, 1964, just before Yom Hashoah (figure 10). The range of religious and civic representatives demonstrates the reach that the Six Million Committee had hoped—and had achieved—in the city. Present were Judge Nochem S. Winnet, Leon Goldberg (of the Jewish War Veterans), Rabbi Theodore H. Gordon (Philadelphia Board [End Page 179] of Rabbis), Roy F. Larson (City Art Commission), Rt. Rev. Msgr. John H. Donnelly (Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul), The Rev. Herbert G. Hearheart (Greater Philadelphia Council of Churches), Abram Shnaper (AJNA), Leonard Goldfine (Allied Jewish Appeal), Dalck Feith (Chair, Monument Committee), Edward Gastfriend (Co-Chair, Monument Committee), and Mayor James H.J. Tate.98 At the unveiling, Mayor Tate tied the monument to the history of Philadelphia: “Two hundred years ago, George Washington announced in this very city that we will give no sanction to bigotry. We echo those same words today.”99 Philadelphia’s history of democracy is echoed in the dedication brochure: “Philadelphia was seen as the appropriate location for this monument because of its historic role as the birthplace of American liberty and because it is the site of so many shrines to the struggle for human freedom.”100 The theme of brotherhood in Philadelphia is stated a second time in the brochure: “Remember that the Monument to the Six Million Martyrs calls on the citizens of Philadelphia and of the world, of every race, creed and walk of life, to uphold the principle on which this city was founded, of the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!”101

At the dedication, a chorus sang “Zog nit keyn mol” (Never Say), the Yiddish song commonly known as “the partisan hymn,” that members of the Jewish resistance sang before embarking on missions in Nazi Europe.102 Gastfriend relates its importance in a 2013 interview: “one never knew if this was their last walk, and yet they had hope of coming back.”103 Since that day, it has become a tradition in Philadelphia that Yom Hashoah is celebrated annually on that spot, and Benjamin Franklin Parkway is briefly renamed “Yom Hashoah Avenue” in honor of the day of remembrance.104 After the dedication, Shnaper did everything he could to gain international attention to the monument, even writing to the Premier of Israel, Levi Eshkol, asking him to lay a wreath there.105 Shnaper received a negative reply from the Israeli Embassy in Washington.106 Nonetheless, it was with great pride that Shnaper showed me the June 5, 1964 newspaper clipping showing Eshkol visiting the monument and laying a wreath.107

The story of the monument’s commission says much about the integration of Jews into city life. A movement of government reform in Philadelphia in the postwar period brought Jews from outside of political life into its center. The formation of the State of Israel gave a common cause to diverse Jewish groups in the city in 1948.108 By the 1960s, in a study of the leadership of 199 Philadelphia organizations, Jews held 19.7 percent of the top positions, a thoroughly changed condition from decades before, when Jews were excluded from such positions altogether.109 That it is to say, by the time the monument was commissioned and realized, Philadelphia Jews played an influential role in city life. Feith was a Holocaust survivor who, within fifteen years of arriving in the United States, became a highly successful businessman and was connected to many facets of city life.

But by 1965 the state of the statue and surroundings were described as “disgraceful” by the Philadelphia Inquirer; the “plot is barren, there is no grass, scattered bushes, [there is] no protective hedging, a broken brick wall near [End Page 180] the monument, debris, no marking or plaque describing what it represents or who dedicated it.110 The Jewish Times referred to the monument as a “neglected refugee” in disgraceful conditions.111 In response to the crisis over the deteriorating space around the memorial, in 1966 the AJNA and the Federation joined forces to create a city-wide Memorial Committee for the Six Million Martyrs (hereafter the “Memorial Committee,” not to be confused with the Six Million Committee responsible for commissioning the monument), under the auspices of the JCRC. It was the first such committee to be founded outside the State of Israel.112 It would not only organize the yearly Yizkor Service, but would influence local public education on the Holocaust, and foster understanding between Jewish and Christian organizations. The memorial’s lasting impact is not just its physical presence but its role in the formation of the Memorial Committee, which helped determine how the Holocaust would be remembered in Philadelphia’s public sphere.

Figure 10. Installation of the Monument, 1964. Left to right: Abram Shnaper, Eddie Gastfriend, unknown, unknown, Dalck Feith, Harold Greenspan.
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Figure 10.

Installation of the Monument, 1964. Left to right: Abram Shnaper, Eddie Gastfriend, unknown, unknown, Dalck Feith, Harold Greenspan.

Photograph © Debbie Feith Tye, 1964. [End Page 181]

The Memorial Committee for the Six Million and Holocaust Memory in Philadelphia, 1966–1979

The Memorial Committee originally undertook to organize the Yizkor Service by bringing together disparate Jewish congregations and services into one city-wide, main service. But as the materials in its archive demonstrate, the Memorial Committee became actively involved in issues pertaining to Jewish life in Philadelphia and abroad. Whatever the limits of the sculpture’s city-wide resonance, the committee had a major effect. Its members included individuals from the AJNA, the Federation, and the Catholic Diocese. Its mission is explicitly stated in the notes from the first meeting in 1966:

Its purpose, in addition to the Annual Yizkor Service, is to conduct a year-round educational program to broaden the impact of remembrance of the Holocaust, to work toward the prevention of reoccurrence whether directed toward the Jewish people or any other group, and to strive to eliminate the evils of bigotry and racism and actively uphold the cause of religious freedom, racial equality and human dignity. The Committee has established a special Speakers’ Bureau. Among the notable personages the committee has officially greeted the monument for special wreath-laying ceremony are Prime Minister Ben Gurion and Israeli Ambassador to the US, Yitzhak Rabin.113

In the notes from its February 1967 meeting, the committee further refined a series of goals:

The preparation and publication of a brochure summarizing the history of the monument and its significance, with the goal of having the widest distribution possible.

The monument should be visited by schools, conventions, and tourists.

The creation of a Speaker’s Bureau to address Jewish and Christian civic organizations regarding the Holocaust

Funds should be raised for a grant for a Master’s Thesis on the Holocaust.

Libraries should be equipped with a corner of European Jewry and the Holocaust.114

These projects were put in place in short order, for by 1972 the Memorial Committee listed as its ongoing projects not only the annual observance of Yom Hashoah, but also a survey of teaching in religious schools, a speakers’ bureau, a list of films and books about the Holocaust, a conference of Holocaust organizations, the promotion of visits to the memorial, a permanent traveling exhibit related to the Holocaust, and “library shelves” on the Holocaust (a program of donating books on the Holocaust to public schools).115

The Memorial Committee reached out to other Jewish institutions to find [End Page 182] out how the Holocaust was being taught in schools in the United States. In response, it received from the American Jewish Committee a brochure entitled “Guidelines to Jewish History in Social Studies Instructional Material.” Of thirty-four pages, one paragraph is dedicated to the Holocaust.116 Notes from 1971–72 indicate the Memorial Committee was worried that the Holocaust was not being taught in Jewish institutions.117 A 1972 letter to the Memorial Committee from the American Association of Jewish Education made clear that an analysis of teaching the Holocaust versus not teaching the Holocaust in public schools had not yet been conducted by their organization.118 Evidence of the Memorial Committee’s activities can be found in letters, such as the one from a librarian at the Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, who thanked the committee for the set of books, which were catalogued, put into circulation, and checked out by students learning about World War II.119 In 1973, the Memorial Committee instituted the Mordechai Anielewicz Arts Competition and Exhibition, held annually ever since.120 Throughout the 1970s, demonstrations were held at the monument site in support of Soviet Jews denied exit visas by the USSR.121 By the late 1970s, the committee moved beyond Holocaust education and addressed bigotry and antisemitism on Philadelphia public television.

In the summer of 1977, WHYY Channel 12 in Philadelphia announced plans to interview David Duke, then head of the Ku Klux Klan, and Frank Collins, head of the American Nazi Party.122 The committee, under the auspices of the JCRC of Philadelphia, wrote to WHYY headquarters that “the Association of Jewish New Americans sees the program as a threat to their survival.”123 The committee asked for letters of support, and received copies of letters sent to WHYY from the American Jewish Committee, the Baptist Ministers Conference, and the Polish American Affairs Council, among others.124 In a letter to James Karayn, President of WHYY, James H. Jones, of the Negro Trade Union Leadership Council, wrote, “I am not a Jew, but I am a concerned Black American who can never forget the inhuman atrocities that befell the Jewish people under Hitler’s Nazi party . . . . this sort of program will only incite racial strife and disunity.”125 U.S. Congressman Joshua Eilberg, from Northeast Philadelphia, urged the general manager of WHYY to cancel the program.126 It aired, but the outcry by both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations demonstrated that the Memorial Committee was able to organize a substantial protest. That same year, prompted by the WHYY incident, the Memorial Committee instituted the Annual Youth Symposium on the Holocaust.127 Organized in partnership with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the symposium involved school children from “city and suburban, private and parochial” schools.128 The archdiocese’s role in Holocaust education should not be underestimated.

After Vatican II in 1965, when Nostra Tate reversed the long-held Catholic belief that the Jews had killed Christ, John Cardinal Krol, in Philadelphia, immediately established the Cardinal’s Commission on Human Rights, with the goal of addressing human relations in the city.129 Sister Gloria Coleman initiated the Ecumenical and Interfaith Council, as well as the Holocaust Committee (renamed soon after to “Interfaith Committee”), which organized events [End Page 183] for adults, and worked with the Memorial Committee to establish the Youth Symposium on the Holocaust.130 According to the Monsignor Michael Carroll, who directed the Interfaith and Ecumenical Affairs Office in the 1960s and 1970s, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Memorial Committee were pioneers in the United States in bringing Holocaust education to the schools of the city.131 By September 1977, Philadelphia schools required a course on the Nazi Holocaust, which was developed by Franklin H. Littell, a Memorial Committee member and faculty member in the Department of Religion at Temple University.132 The Philadelphia Board of Education wrote to the Memorial Committee that a

series of five development sessions dealing with the Holocaust have been developed. Thank you for your unswerving support of our programs. Because of your efforts, we have been successful in introducing Holocaust studies into the Social Studies Program of the Philadelphia School District.133

In April 1979, the archdiocese wrote to the Memorial Committee that on Sunday, April 12, all Christian congregations were encouraged to observe a special day of Holocaust Remembrance.134

Nevertheless, in 1974, Philadelphia Magazine called the Rapoport’s monument the “worst sculpture” in the city and referred to the work’s “twisted swords, hairless heads, hammertoes and hammerfingers [sic] projecting . . . . It looks like one of those clouds of dust cartoonists use to signify a fistfight—suspended on a pair of fat seated legs.”135 Still, the Memorial Committee’s work became known not only within Philadelphia; by March 1979 the Council of Yad Vashem in Israel invited members of the Memorial Committee to join the work of its institution and to write “policy for Yad Vashem and to direct its activities.”136 The Memorial Committee suggested that Littell sit on Yad Vashem’s board and financially supported his visits to Israel.137 Thus the Memorial Committee began raising awareness of the Rapoport monument in 1967, and by the end of the 1970s, it had gained the attention of Yad Vashem.138

In the 1980s, the Memorial Committee continued to organize the Yizkor Service but ceased to administer public programs. During that decade, many other Jewish organizations became active in this field in Philadelphia, including the American Jewish Congress (no longer in existence) and the American Jewish Committee, both of which engaged in the kinds of public programming for which the Memorial Committee had been responsible.139

In 1989, Byrn Mawr College hosted a program that brought twenty-two American and German college students together to learn about the Holocaust and German-Jewish relationships. Mayor Goode spoke to the students at the site of Rapoport’s monument, and visited with the students the homes of local Holocaust survivors.140 But by the 1990s, according to the current manager of the Memorial Committee, it started organizing only the yearly memorial service. The administration of all other programs, while officially on their web site, are now sponsored by the Federation. But for about fifteen years, the Memorial Committee was active in public life, bringing the history of the Holocaust to many Philadelphians, Jews and non-Jews alike. [End Page 184]


After the Philadelphia monument, Rapoport would create a few more Holocaust-related works for public space in the United States. In 1978, he was commissioned to produce two reliefs for the school of the New York Park Avenue Synagogue (dedicated 1980).141 One depicts Janus Korczak, director of the Warsaw Ghetto orphanage, and two groups of orphans, in a stylized fashion. Korczak, a Jew, voluntarily stayed with his orphans when the Nazis transported them to their deaths in 1942 (he had been offered sanctuary by friends outside of the ghetto; some claim that the Gestapo offered that he remain in the ghetto at the time of the children’s deportation) and was never heard from again.142 The inscription dedicates the relief to “the one million children who perished in the Holocaust.” In 1983, the artist fulfilled the commission for the Liberty Monument in New Jersey, dedicated to the American soldiers who liberated the concentration camps. It is figurative without any abstract elements. Rapoport’s earlier experiment in expressionistic, quasi-figuration with the Philadelphia monument was abandoned in his later Holocaust-themed works.

Starting in 2003, the Memorial Committee added a new program to its roster of annual events: the Dorothy Freedman Conversation with a Survivor. The program is held annually on the morning of the Yizkor Service, and brings Hebrew High School youth together with a survivor and a related speaker, such as a liberator or a rescuer.143 In 2006, a new organization, the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, leased the land around the monument from the city for eighty years—for $1—and planned to build a Holocaust Education Center at the site, without disturbing the monument.144 The foundation, on whose board Shnaper sat until his death in 2014, commissioned Moshe Safdie, an Israeli-Canadian architect who has been fundamental in designing Holocaust memorials, most particularly at Yad Vashem.

In an interview, Marc Felgoise, former chairman of the board, stated that the educational center was not to be an archival or exhibition space but would bring the memory of the Holocaust into dialogue with other tragedies and genocides, for both Philadelphia residents and tourists.145 But the committee was unable to raise the necessary funds and the plan was abandoned in 2014. In May 2016, the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation unveiled a new plan for the site, consisting of a memorial plaza behind the Rapoport monument on the corner of Sixteenth and Arch Streets. It will be designed by the Landscape Architecture firm WRT and will consist of a memorial wall, six glass free-standing walls with historical information, an elevated lawn area for sitting and contemplation, an eternal flame, a tree from the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and the Rapoport monument.146 Unlike before, when the 1980 brochure of public art in the city did not mention the sculpture, the memorial now appears on many Philadelphia tourist web sites.147 And “Museum Without Walls,” a web site of the Association for Public Art in Philadelphia, as well as the Association for Public Art web site, provide a visual description, photographs of the monument, and a map with its location.148 [End Page 185]

The monument’s history demonstrates that survivors and the established Jewish community worked together to honor the dead and preserve memories—and even more importantly, to create the Memorial Committee—that would promote Holocaust education in public and parochial schools in Philadelphia. In a letter to Shnaper written just after the dedication of the monument, Rapoport wrote, “The Uprising in the Ghetto had taught us: never bow your head, be helpful, and fight for justice and righteousness.”149 The Monument was largely forgotten by the general public, but the Memorial Committee fought for justice and righteousness, actively seeking to spread knowledge about the Holocaust in Philadelphia’s public sphere.

Natasha Goldman
Bowdoin College
Natasha Goldman

Natasha Goldman is a Research Associate and Adjunct Lecturer in the Art History Department at Bowdoin College. Her research and teaching concentrate on modern and contemporary art, and critical theory and public art, specifically examining post-Holocaust aesthetics and Holocaust memorials. Her manuscript, “From Grassroots Organizing to National Debate: Holocaust Memorials in Germany and the United States,” is under contract with Temple University Press. She contributed “Marking Absence: Remembrance and Hamburg’s Holocaust Memorials” to Beyond Berlin: German Cities Confront the Past (University of Michigan Press, 2009), an interdisciplinary anthology edited by Paul Jaskot and Gavriel Rosenfeld. She has presented her research at the College Art Association, the Association of Jewish Studies, the American Anthropological Association, the German Studies Association and numerous other venues.


1. While the sculpture is officially entitled “monument,” in academic language today it would be called a “memorial.” As it was the first memorial dedicated to the Holocaust, there was not yet a tradition of titling such works of art. Rapoport’s Warsaw Ghetto Monument of 1948 was the most well-known public sculpture dedicated to the Holocaust even into the 1960s. The construction of Holocaust memorials internationally began in the 1980s, when new forms of Holocaust memory developed in many countries. With the 1981 publication of Sybil Milton’s In Fitting Memory: The Art and Politics of Holocaust Memorials (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), such sculptures came to be known as “memorials.” I therefore mostly refer to the work as a “monument” when locating Rapoport’s Philadelphia sculpture in its historical context, and as a “memorial” when discussing it in the context of Holocaust memory after its 1964 dedication. See Marita Sturken’s useful discussion of “monument” and “memorial” in “The Wall, the Screen, and the Image: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” Representations 35 (summer 1991) (special issue on monumental histories): 118–142. She explains that “monument” refers to deceased individuals who engaged in acts of heroism, whereas “memorial” refers to innocent victims. Using both terms for Rapoport’s Philadelphia sculpture here allows for a fluidity of memory that parallels changes in Holocaust memory from the time of its commission until today. Special thanks goes to the following individuals, who were extremely helpful to me in acquiring archival sources, fact-checking, and/or editing: the late Douglas Feith, Debbie Feith Tye, Eddie Gastfriend, and Abram Shnaper.

2. The “flames of the menorah” appear in all descriptions of the sculpture, and is the term I prefer. The “burning bush” appears only sometimes in early citations, and the “barbed wire” only appears in later citations. For “sculpted barbed wire,” see Leon E. Brown, “Monumental Works from Warsaw to Philadelphia,” Jewish Times, February 16, 1984; for the inclusion of “burning bush,” see, for instance, “Jewish Memorial to Be Unveiled,” Daily News, April 2, 1964.

3. Contemporary news sources refer to the Philadelphia monument as the “first” in the United States, but its status as such remains unresolved. The earliest iteration of this idea is to be found in the “Jews Present Statue to Philadelphia To Honor Six Million Nazi Victims,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 27, 1964, while the most recent is Vernon Clark, “Marking 50th Anniversary of the Holocaust Memorial,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 28, 2014. See also Dalck Feith, transcript of videotaped interview by Rose Landy, January 7, 1980, “Oral History in the Building of the Federation of Jewish Agencies 226 S. Sixteenth St., Philadelphia,” SCRC 82 WLB Oral History Feith, Dalck, transcript, 7, Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), Temple University Libraries. Both of these sources, while aiming at objectivity, might not be completely reliable: The Philadelphia Inquirer journalists might have been boastful rather than historical, while Feith’s interview relies on his own memory. In a letter in Abram Shnaper’s estate from philanthropist Paul Lewis, of Dallas, Texas, Lewis pointed out that he was in fact the first to financially support a Holocaust monument, in 1959 at Shearith Israel Congregation in Texas, and another in 1962, at the East Midwood Jewish Center in [End Page 186] Brooklyn, New York. Both of the memorials funded by Lewis were on private congregation grounds. It is probably impossible to determine the “first” monument to the Holocaust in the United States but nevertheless, some tour guides and more recently web sites, refer to the monument as the “first.” Paul Lewis to Abram Shnaper, letter, October 7, 1963, Abram Shnaper Papers, once privately held by Howard Gersham of Philadelphia, now available at the Abram Shnaper Papers on the Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs collection, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University, and online at For details on the transfer of the papers, see “From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Philadelphia’s Holocaust Memorial,” History News, A Temple Libraries’ Blog, April 22, 2016,

4. Janet Kardon, Urban Encounters (Philadelphia: Falcon Press, 1980), 6. For the film Nathan Rapoport: From the Holocaust of Man to the Holocaust of the Artist: The Artist that Israel Forgot (2003), see “Information Center for Israeli Art,” Israel Museum, Jerusalem,, accessed August 25, 2015,,%20Nathan&list=.

5. A search of the Access World News databases ( shows that articles are published yearly in April, covering Holocaust Memorial Day services at the monument, and appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer; accessed December 8, 2014. Informal conversations between the author and current and former residents of Philadelphia always results in the same response, “There is a Holocaust Memorial in Philadelphia?!” By no means an objective study, it is an interesting trend to note.

6. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when curricula for Holocaust education was started in public schools. Thomas D. Fallace, The Emergence of Holocaust Education in American Schools (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), 29.

7. “Nathan Rapoport, Sculptor of Works on Holocaust, Dies”, June 6, 1987, accessed March 7, 2012,

8. Sybil Milton, In Fitting Memory (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), 12.

9. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), 104.

10. Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: Free Press, 1993), 200.

11. Hilene Flanzbaum, “Introduction: Americanization of the Holocaust,” in Hilene Flanzbaum, ed., Americanization of the Holocaust (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 3.

12. Novick, Holocaust in American Life, 124.

13. Ibid., 135.

14. Fallace, The Emergence of Holocaust Education, 70.

15. Edward T. Linenthal, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

16. Fallace, The Emergence of Holocaust Education, 114.

17. See note 3. My attempts to get this film from Israel have been unsuccessful.

18. James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 11.

19. Ibid.

20. Translated by Neil Hollander.

21. Richard Yaffe, Nathan Rapoport: Sculptures and Monuments (New York: Shengold, 1980).

22. Young, Texture of Memory.

23. Edward Gastfriend, although elderly, has an acute memory and is incredibly articulate about details of Rapoport and the commission, many of which I substantiated through newspaper articles; interview with author, telephone interview, January 28, 2015.

24. Young, Texture of Memory, 155.

25. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

26. Yaffe, Rapoport, 2.

27. Ibid, 3.

28. Ibid.

29. For the history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, see Israel Gutman, The Jews of Warsaw, 1939–1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), 283–400.

30. Yaffe, Rapoport, 4. [End Page 187]

31. Yaffe, Rapoport, 3.

32. Janet Ward, “Capital Gardens: The Mall and the Tiergarten in Comparative Perspective,” Berlin–Washington, 1800–2000: Capital Cities, Cultural Representation, and National Identities, eds., Andreas W. Daum and Christof Mauch (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 164.

33. Young, Texture of Memory, 155–184.

34. Yaffe mentions that while Rapoport was working on the monument for Kibbutz Yad Mordechai in 1948, he “returned to Paris, where he lived”; Rapoport, 6.

35. “Nathan Rapoport, Sculptor of Works on Holocaust, Dies,” New York Times.

36. See David Ohana, Modernism and Zionism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 20. For the development of art in Israel from the settler years to the present, see Dalia Manor, Art in Zion: The Genesis of Modern National Art in Israel (New York: Routledge, 2005).

37. Novick, Holocaust in American Life, 114.

38. Hasia Diner, We Remember in Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 35.

39. Mark Godfrey, Abstraction and the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 118.

40. Lucy Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (New York: Praeger, 1972) and Rosalind Krauss, Passages in Modern Sculpture (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977).

41. Tom Finkelpearl, Dialogues in Public Art (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 20.

42. See Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), 130.

43. For the history of the national movement of public art, see Finkelpearl, Dialogues in Public Art, 21.

44. For the story of the New York City memorial, see Godfrey, Abstraction and the Holocaust, and Rochelle G. Saidel, Never Too Late to Remember: The Politics Behind New York City’s Holocaust Museum (New York: Holmes and Meyer, 1996).

45. Theodor Adorno, “Cultural Criticism and Society,” Prisms, trans. Samuel and Shierry Weber (London: Neville Spearman, 1967), 34.

46. Theodor Adorno, Aesthetics and Politics, trans. and ed. Ronald Taylor (London: New Left Books, 1977), 188; Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. C. Lenhardt (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), 352–354, 443–444; and Adorno, Prisms, 245–271. Cited in Saul Friedländer, Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the “Final Solution” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 260.

47. Henry Moore, Writings and Conversations, ed. Alan Wilkinson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 135. Cited in Rudy Koshar, From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870–1999 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 201.

48. Cited in Koshar, From Monuments to Traces, 201. Berel Lang, Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2003) and Lawrence L. Langer, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991; reissued 1993), 204.

49. Friedländer, Probing the Limits of Representation, 2–3.

50. Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman, The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry, trans. and ed. by David Patterson; foreword by Irving Louis Horowitz; introduction by Helen Segall (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2002). The first English translation was published by the Jewish Black Book Committee in 1946. For the murder of two million Jews in the Ukraine by Germans, and with the help of local townspeople, see Dieter Pohl, “The Murder of Ukraine’s Jews under German Military Administration and in the Reich Commissariat Ukraine,” eds., Ray Brandon and Wendy Lower, Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), 23–76. For postwar silence regarding the murder of the Jews in the USSR, see Zvi Gittleman, “Politics and Historiography of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union,” Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), 14–42.

51. Law Offices of Silvers, Rosen, Sherwin, and Seltzer to Abram Shnaper, letter, October 30, 1962, Shnaper Papers.

52. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

53. Articles of Incorporation: The Committee for a Monument in Memory of the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, undated, Shnaper Papers. Names of incorporators (and titles) are listed as Joseph Steinig (secretary), Gideon Rath, Harold Greenspan, Edward Gastfriend (vice president), [End Page 188] Harry Bass, Abram Shnaper (president), Olga Potok (treasurer), David N. Rosen, Jack Thalheimer, Louis E. Seltzer.

54. Abram Shnaper, interview with author, personal interview, June 2011, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

55. David Sluki, “Republics of Memory: American Jewish Survivor Networks and the Rise of Holocaust Consciousness,” Association of Jewish Studies, Dec. 2015.

56. Murray Friedman, ed., Philadelphia Jewish Life, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 20.

57. For the use of the phrase “Holocaust survivor,” see Beth B. Cohen, Case Closed: Holocaust Survivors in Postwar America (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007.) For AJNA name change, see entity number 763456, “Business,” Pennsylvania Department of State,, accessed September 9, 2014.

58. Shnaper, personal interview. He dates this incident to June 1961.

59. David Perleger, “Remember,” Association of Jewish New Americans Bulletin, No. 6, April 1962, 8.

60. Some details of Dalck Feith’s life come from my interviews with his daughter, Deborah Feith Tye, interview with author, telephone interview, January 27, 2015, and his son, Douglas Feith, interview with author, telephone interview, January 28, 2015.

61. Jacob Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement 1925–1948 (London: Cass, 1988).

62. Dalck Feith, transcript of videotaped interview by Rose Landy, 4.

63. Among other causes, he was a major donor to the synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He was later appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the commission to raise funds for and oversee the construction of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Douglas Feith, telephone interview.

64. Deborah Feith remembers that it was not until the 1980s that she realized that her father was a “Holocaust survivor”; telephone interview. This reflects attitudes of the Jewish community toward the Holocaust in the 1960s and 1970s. At the time, often only those who had survived death camps and concentration camps were considered “survivors.” It was only in the 1980s that any Jew who survived Nazi Europe was considered a “Holocaust survivor.” See Cohen, Case Closed.

65. Dalck Feith, personal interview.

66. Ibid.

67. Leon E. Brown, “Monumental Works from Warsaw to Philadelphia,” Jewish Times, February 16, 1984.

68. Abram Shnaper to Dalck Feith, letter, May 20, 1964, Shnaper Papers.

69. “Exhibit I: Statement of Cash Receipts and Disbursements for the Period March 29, 1963 to December 31, 1964,” Shnaper Papers. Other fees went to insurance, promotional materials, photographs, attorneys, and accountants, etc.

70. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

71. The model is now on permanent loan at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

72. A two-foot plaster model was given to Edward Gastfriend by Nathan Rapoport and is in the private collection of David Gastfriend (Edward’s son), who remembers hearing repeatedly, as a child, the story about Rapoport’s reservations about the female form. David Gastfriend, interview by author, telephone interview, January 28, 2015.

73. Rapoport gave the plaster model to Edward Gastfriend; interview by author, telephone interview, January 30, 2015.

74. “Art Commission Oks Jewish Gift of Monument,” Philadelphia Daily News, January 9, 1964.

75. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview, January 28 and 30, 2015.

76. “Art Commission Oks Jewish Gift of Monument.”

77. Jacques Lipchitz to Lucy, letter, January 10, 1964, Michael Zagayski Papers, Jewish Theological Seminary Archives, folder 1/5.

78. For illustrations of models, see Yaffe, Rapoport, illustrations 60 and 65. For the dedication of Brotherhood of Man, see Susan Heller, “Sculpture of Amity,” The New York Times, May 24, 1986.

79. Douglas Feith, telephone interview.

80. Shnaper, personal interview. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview; he reiterates these three themes. [End Page 189]

81. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

82. Monument to the Six Million Martyrs (1964), Amanda Aronczyk, video producer, Museum Without Walls,, recorded 2013, accessed January 23, 2015,

83. Yaffe, Rapoport, 7.

84. Evening Bulletin, February 1963. For the history of Gratz College, see Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Gratz College,” Encyclopedia Judaica, ed. Frank Skolnik and Michael Berenbaum (Farmington Hills, MN: Keter Publishing, 2007), 37–38. The description of the original location was given by Josey Fisher, email to author, January 21, 2012.

85. Nathan Rapoport to Abram Shnaper, letter, November 19, 1960, Shnaper Papers, translated from Yiddish by Stanley Bergman.

86. Ibid.

87. Nathan Rapoport to Abram Shnaper, letter, September 20, 1963, Shnaper Papers, translated by Bergman.

88. Nathan Rapoport to Abram Shnaper, letter, July 28, 1963, Shnaper Papers, translated by Bergman.

89. “Monument to 6 Million Jewish Martyrs En Route Here; Unveiling Set for April 26,” Philadelphia Jewish Times, April 3, 1964.

90. “Phila Offered Statue for Martyred Jews,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 9, 1964.

91. Charlie Bannister, “Statue Commemorating Ghetto Heroes on Way,” Daily News, March 12, 1962.

92. Minutes of the Fairmount Park Commission, March 9, 1964, 20, City Archives of Philadelphia. For newspaper coverage of the decision, “Monument to 6 Million Jewish Martyrs Enroute Here.”

93. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

94. Minutes of the Fairmount Park Commission, April 13, 1964, 25.

95. Minutes of the Philadelphia Office of the Commissioners, April 13, 1964, City Archives of Philadelphia. In 1966, the Six Million Committee met to discuss the sculpture’s base. One member asked what was being done to have the sculpture moved to a better location; another member said to leave it where it was. The matter does not come up again in minutes. Committee for the Monument Minutes, March 1, 1966, Shnaper Papers.

96. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

97. Ibid.

98. AJNA and the Federation of the Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia, “The Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs Unveiling,” brochure, April 26, 1964, 1, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, folder Inquirer Clipping, Rapoport Nathan, Sculptor.

99. “Jews Present Statue to Philadelphia to Honor Six Million Nazi Victims,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 27, 1964.

100. AJNA and the Federation, “The Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs Unveiling,” 2.

101. Ibid.

102. The title comes from the first line of the song, “Never say that you have reached the final road.”

103. Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs (1964).

104. Council of the City of Philadelphia, Office of the Chief Clerk, Room 402 City Hall, Resolution # 194: “to temporarily change the name of Arch St., at 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, to ‘Avenue of the Six Million Jewish Martyrs,’ during the weekend of April 15, 1966, in significant tribute to the heroic Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto and the six million Jewish martyrs who perished in the hands of the Nazis,” signed Paul D’Ortona, JCRC files, ACC 7011966 JCRC Memorial Committee for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Temple University Archives. The resolution was re-activated yearly for the Yizkor Service.

105. Abram Shnaper to Levi Eshkol, telegram, May 28, 1964, Shnaper Papers.

106. Avraham Harman to Abram Shnaper, letter, May 27, 1964, Shnaper Papers.

107. David G. Wittels, “Eshkol Received Warmly Here and in Washington,” Jewish Exponent, June 5, 1964, 65–66, Shnaper Papers.

108. Murray Friedman, ed., Philadelphia Jewish Life: 1940–2000 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 73. [End Page 190]

109. Ibid., 78.

110. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 5, 1964, Inquirer Clippings, Jewish Martyrs Monument, folder 7–223.

111. Untitled newspaper clipping, Jewish Times, March 5, 1965, Shnaper Papers.

112. Novick, Holocaust in American Life, 20.

113. Minutes of the Committee for the Monument, March 1, 1966, Shnaper Papers.

114. Notes from Memorial Committee, February 2, 1967, JCRC Files, Folder ACC 201 JCRC “Memorial Committee for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs,” SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

115. “Draft 10/9/72 Workshop Report–Holocaust Observance,” JCRC Files, Folder ACC 701 JCRC Memorial Committee for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs 1971–72,” SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

116. American Jewish Committee, “Guidelines to Jewish History in Social Studies Instructional Material,” JCRC Files, Folder ACC 701 JCRC Jewish Martyrs: Teaching the Holocaust 1971– 75, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

117. Committee Meeting notes, 1971–72, folder ACC 701 Memorial Committee for 6 million Jewish martyrs, 1971–72, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

118. Hyman Chanover to Memorial Committee, letter, January 5, 1972, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

119. Helen Humpreville, Librarian at Abraham Lincoln High School, Philadelphia, to the Memorial Committee, letter, May 27, 1972, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

120. Beth Razin, interview by author, telephone interview, January 14, 2015.

121. “Youths Parade for Soviet Jews,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 18, 1970.

122. Gloria Campisi, “Channel 12 Off to See the Wizard,” Philadelphia Daily News, July 21, 1977.

123. JCRC to WHYY, letter, undated, JCRC Files, folder ACC 701 JCRC Black Perspectives, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

124. These letters can be found in ibid.

125. From James H. Jones to James Karayn, President of WHYY, letter, August 12, 1977, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

126. Letter, September 19, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

127. Razin, telephone interview.

128. Monsignor Michael Carroll, interview by author, telephone interview, January 15, 2015.

129. Ibid.

130. Ibid.

131. Ibid.

132. Paula Herbut, “Schools and the Holocaust,” Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Bulletin, February 27, 1977, Shnaper Papers. Herbut claims it is the first such course in the nation; other sources, however, prove this was not the case; see Fallace, The Emergence of Holocaust Education, 29. For the development of Holocaust education in Philadelphia, see Marcia S. Littell, “Breaking the Silence: The Beginning of Holocaust Education in American,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 49, no. 1 (2014): 125–133. The change in curricula was not without controversy. See “Northeast Head of German-American Group Protests Holocaust Course in Schools,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 1977.

133. Harold Kessler, Assistant Director, Division of Social Studies, School District of Philadelphia, Board of Education, to the Memorial Committee, letter, March 15, 1979, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

134. The Reverend John F. Hartwick, Diocese of Philadelphia, to the Memorial Committee, letter, April 22, 1979, folder ACC 1454 Memorial Committee—Correspondence 1979, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

135. Philadelphia Magazine, September 1974, 118.

136. Gideon Hausner, Chairman, Yad Vashem, to Solomon Fisher, Chairman, Memorial Committee, letter, March 16, 1979, folder ACC 1454 Memorial Committee–Correspondence 1979, SCRC, Temple University Libraries.

137. Edward Gastfriend, telephone interview.

138. The Holocaust Oral History Archive at Gratz College was established in 1979. Although it was organized independent of the Memorial Committee, it demonstrates the Jewish community’s dedication to Holocaust memory in the city. Josey Fisher, email.

139. Razin, telephone interview. [End Page 191]

140. Dubin Murray, “Students Crossing Boundaries to Understand the Holocaust,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 5, 1989.

141. Laurie L. Harris, Marcia J. Stone, Jean Bloch Rosensaft, and Joan K. Schefler, eds., Unbroken Chain: Celebrating 125 Years—The Park Avenue Synagogue (New York: Park Avenue Synagogue, 2008), 293.

142. Betty Jean Lifton, The King of Children: A Biography of Janusz Korczak (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988), 323 and 344–345. See also “Children during the Holocaust,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,, accessed October 27, 2015,

143. Razin, telephone interview.

144. Stephan Salisbury, “Human-rights center proposed for Philadelphia,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 28, 2010.

145. Marc Felgoise, interview with author, telephone interview, October 16, 2011. The idea to create an education center alongside the memorial reflects trends toward “living memorials,” a post–World War I movement to build sites that engaged with daily life. Some highways and civic centers were named “war memorials.” Andrew M. Shanken, “Planning Memory: Living Memorials in the United States during World War II,” Art Bulletin 84, no. 1 (March 2002). After World War II, Yad Vashem dedicated itself as a “living memorial,” to which new memorials would be added every few years. Recently, Holocaust monuments are accompanied by museums or information centers. Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005), for instance, includes a historical museum.

146. Private unveiling, May 4, 2016, Philadelphia.

147. See for example, “Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs,” Visit Philadelphia,, accessed October 27, 2015,

148. Monument to the Six Million Martyrs (1964). See the interactive map at the Association for Public Art,, accessed October 27, 2015,

149. Nathan Rapoport to Abram Shnaper, letter, May 6, 1964, Shnaper Papers, translated by Bergman. [End Page 192]

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