Who is Commemorated?
65,000 Polish citizens of Jewish nationality from Cracow and its environs
The monument is set against the grassy space in a small rectangular paved area with interlocking brick. Set into the brick is an approximate square made of set slabs of polished granite, upon which is set a low pedestal of the same type of granite slabs. On this is set upright a large, quarried rock with a rough surface on the sides and rear, and a smoother front upon which is fastened a thick bronze plaque. A tri-lingual inscription on the plaque refers to “65 thousand Polish citizens of Jewish nationality from Cracow and its environs.” who were killed by the Nazis. The inscription encourages the viewer to meditate on the fate of Krakow’s Jews. The inscription is in Polish, Hebrew, and English, and appears in raised letters on the plaque. A Magen David is set in the upper left corner of the tablet. The plaque is thick enough so that small stones, offered by visitors, can fit on its upper edge.
On the base and lean against the boulder is a horizontal light granite slab, inscribed with the name of the Nissenbaum Foundation in large letters, and the foundation logo, an image of a Jewish gravestone (matzevah) flanked by the broken tree. This plaque appears to be a later addition and announces the sponsor more prominently than the victims who are commemorated.
An openwork iron structure that suggests a building apse or a synagogue bimah surrounds the monument. The structure is supported by six metal poles, the carry an arched superstructure with a prominent Magen David set at the highest point. The structure is entirely open in the front to allow easy viewing of the monument and has five sides that are screened by a low iron fence that connects to the six poles. The vertical poles are fastened at the ground to the pavement-level granite slabs. The entire monument is then further surrounded by a fence of hip-high iron posts connected by thick iron chains.
The almost identical inscriptions are in Polish, English, and Hebrew.
Miejsce zadumy nad męczeńską śmiercią
65 tysięcy obywateli polskich narodowości
żydowskiej z Krakowa i okolic zamordowanych
przez hitlerowców w czasie II wojny światowej
Translation: Place of meditation upon the martyrdom of 65 thousand Polish citizens of Jewish nationality from Cracow and its environs killed by the Nazis during World War II
Place of meditation upon the martyrdom
of 65 thousand Polish citizens of Jewish
nationality from Cracow and its environs
killed by the Nazis during World War II
מקום של הרהור על קדוש השם של 65000
יהודי פולין מקראקוב וסביבתו שנהרגו על ידי
הגרמנים בימי השואה
Translation: Place of meditation upon the martyrdom of 65 thousand Polish Jews from Cracow and its environs killed by the Nazis in the days of the Shoah
The inscription in Polish at the bottom of the plaque in smaller letters reads:
Fundacja Rodziny Nissenbaumów
Translation: Nissenbaum Family Foundation
Nissenbaum Foundation (Fundacji Rodziny Nissenbaumów)
In front of the Rema Synagogue on Szeroka Street is a small fenced-in greenspace with a few trees.
In 1994, when the surrounding area was mostly derelict, still reflecting the abandoned state of the old Jewish quarter after the deportation and murder of Cracow Jews, the Nissenbaum Family Foundation installed a memorial to Krakow’s holocaust victim’s here. This site is known to have once been a Jewish cemetery, but the date of its establishment is not certain. There was a wall around it, and in the 19th-century this was removed, and the cemetery sit shortened to allow the expansion of Szeroka Street.
The Nissenbaum Family Foundation was founded in 1983 with the aim of identifying and protecting Jewish heritage and Holocaust-related sites. The Foundation was very active in the 1990s as the first non-governmental sponsors of Jewish memory and heritage projects.
Significantly, the foundation chose Szeroka Street, formerly the heart of Jewish Cracow, as the site of the monument. Other than the eviction of the Jewish population from the street beginning in the spring of 1940, however, most of the horrors inflicted upon Cracow’s Jews did not take place here, but across the river in the Podgorze Ghetto (where a major memorial monument was installed in 2005), and at Plaszow Labor Camp. Already in 1995, however, there were plans for the redevelopment of Kazimierz, and after the fall of Communism, many Jewish and other tourists were beginning to come to the area. The Jewish Cultural Festival began its annual celebrations on Szeroka Street in 1988, and the World Monuments Fund began the restoration of the nearby Tempel Synagogue in 1992. Commercial and heritage development of the area took off in the 1990s.
Valley, Eli. The Great Jewish Cities of Central and Eastern Europe. (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1999), 337.