It matters little how many memorials I have seen, or I should say experienced. Each one is expressed in the terms of the individual or individuals whose concept we see. Though small by comparison to the Museum in Washington DC, Kenneth Treister's creation is nonetheless one of the most powerful. If you’ve been here, you know that one of the images you take away with you is the outstretched 42-foot bronze hand.
It took about five years to build this memorial whose idea was conceived by Miami survivors of families that perished in the Holocaust. The contrast of horrific facts and recreations of anguish stands firmly next to a reflecting pool of unimagined tranquility.
Let’s start at the beginning. When you enter, you are met by what is unmistakably a mother in a protective stance with her two children. You will revisit that family as you exit, but this time, they are not standing. You will walk through the "Lonely Path", pictured below, whose only light comes from above it in the form of a Star of David. Upon its walls, as it gets narrower until you exit, you can read the names of the infamous Nazi death camps.
The history of the Holocaust is recalled with etched photos on black granite walls with appropriate inscriptions. A similar group of walls bears witness to the massacre with names of those who perished. As you get closer to the outstretched hand, you can see and feel the angst captured on the faces of the bronze figures. One in particular tries to reach out to the group clutching onto the forearm of that hand, which by the way, displays an Auschwitz number. Two skeletal figures appear to be saying goodbye to each other; a child at the entrance is depicted as screeching in terror.
I realized that the reflecting pool is of great value to this memorial, as it helped me sort out my personal anguish and feelings of revulsion at what I was seeing. An eternal flame burns on a sconce on one of the walls; there is a remarkable inscription by Anne Frank that alludes to her belief that no matter what happens, people are basically good inside.
The memorial is as much a reminder of the most unthinkable crime of the last century as a provider of solace to those who seek some closure for the loved ones they lost. Go see it.