Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO – Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs by artist Nathan Rapoport

[Edward Gastfriend] There was a time when people felt that the Jews, they go like sheep to the slaughter house. And since I was part of it, I felt that it is important the monument show segments of resistance. My name is Eddie Gastfriend and I was the chairman of the erection of the monument and the name of the sculptor is Mr. Nathan Rapoport. [Nina Wolmark] Nathan Rapoport was born in Warsaw in 1911. [Gastfriend] He was also the sculptor that made the monument in Warsaw, “The Ghetto Uprising” and he understood the tragedy very well. [Wolmark] I’m Nina Wolmark. My father was Nathan Rapoport. [Glastfriend] It’s named “A Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs” [music: “Zog nit keyn mol!”] At the dedication, which was in 1964, there was singing. [music cont.] This is called “The Partisan Hymn.” The Yiddish lyrics goes “zig nit keyn mol az du geyst dem letstn veg.” In other words, when it is sent out on a mission, the partisans, one never knew whether this is their last walk and yet they had hope of winning the battle and coming back. [music cont.] [Wolmark] The people who raised money, penny by penny, to make this monument their hearts were still burning with sorrow. And my father was probably in the same state of mind. [James Young] I met Nathan Rapoport in the early ’80’s. He had approached me knowing that I was writing on Holocaust Memorials. My name is James Young, I’m the author of a handful of books on Holocaust memorials and art and architecture. [Wolmark] If you look at the monument, you can see there is a mother and she’s supporting a baby. [Young] This kind of memorial iconography, especially for Holocaust monuments, points to the innocence of all of the victims – women and children becoming kind of emblematic for this in a sense. And the woman and child also come to represent the wiped out possibility of regeneration. [Wolmark] These two figures are supporting a praying man who is raising his hands in prayer. [Gastfriend] It shows actually people did not lose faith. In the darkest moment they had faith and God. And in the back, we can see knives, bayonets, bare hands – whatever they had, they fought with. [Young] This feature is significant because until now, mostly what had been featured in Holocaust memorials was the moment of destruction – the fires, the flames – but Nathan Rapoport coming from where he did in Poland, was very preoccupied with the rebellions and the resistance on the part of the Jews during the Holocaust. And do almost everything he did around memorial design included images of resistance as well as of martyrdom. [Wolmark] My father, Nathan Rapoport, lost his mother in the Ghetto Warschauer, so this was something that was all his life making him suffer and feel guilty. But also, gave him the strength and energy to create and create without end. He used to say: my words are made of stone and bronze, they are silent but everlasting.

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