Obj. ID: 34196
Modern Jewish Art Memorial to Victims of the Injustice of the Holocaust in Madison Square Park, New York City, NY, USA, 1988-1990
Memorial to the Victims of the Injustice of the Holocaust
Who is Commemorated?
Victims of the Holocaust
The memorial was added to an existing courthouse building at Madison Square, one of Manhattan’s busiest public spaces. A half-column, resembling a smokestack of a crematorium, was added to the northeast corner of the façade of the 1896 Beaux-arts building. The column is decorated in swirling flames and carved at eye level is a representation of the Auschwitz I concentration camp. The camp is shown from a highly detailed bird’s-eye view, with the commandant’s house, the execution wall, torture chamber, gas chamber, and crematorium. Around the carving is inscribed the words, “Indifference to Injustice… Is the Gate to Hell."
The sculpture is based on an aerial photograph taken on August 25, 1944, by the 15th US Army Air Force.
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs describes the sculpture as:
"a six-sided half column rising 27 feet above its base. The five-sided concave base extends one story below ground level, the overall height of the Memorial being 38 feet. Carvings of flames along the length of the column recall the flames of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. They appear to blow in the direction of the courthouse as if to threaten the symbol of Justice. A relief of an aerial view of the main camp at Auschwitz is carved into the base at eye level... On the base under the relief is a giant flame extending below ground level as a final reminder of Crematorium 1 at Auschwitz."
[Memorial to the Victims of the Injustice of the Holocaust, CultureNow]
The names of the sculptor, commissioner, sponsor, and owner are listed on a small plaque next to the memorial.
Engraved around the image:
Indifference to Injustice is the Gate to Hell
Five points within the Auschwitz camp that were visible in the original photograph are labeled:
Gas Chamber and Crematorium 1
Under the relief, the place and date of the original photograph are given:
Auschwitz 1 / 25 August 1944
On a small plaque:
Memorial to All Victims of the Holocaust, 1938 – 1945
Organization for the Memorial to Victims of the Injustice of the Holocaust and sponsored by the New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services
The idea for the memorial purportedly originated with Judge Francis T. Murphy, presiding justice of the New York State Court of Appeals. An organization was formed to promote the idea. A competition was held in 1988 and was won by Harriet Feigenbaum, who proposed to create a replica of an aerial photograph of the Auschwitz concentration camp taken by American planes as they bombed German oil factories nearby on August 25, 1944. The photo and others indicate that U.S. planes had the ability to bomb the death camp, but the camp was not designated as a priority target.
Memorial to the Victims of the Injustice of the Holocaust, CultureNOW, https://culturenow.org/entry&permalink=01507&seo=Holocaust-Memorial_Harriet-Feigenbaum (accessed February 20, 2022)
“Memorial to Victims of the Injustice of the Holocaust,” Wikipedia , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_to_Victims_of_the_Injustice_of_the_Holocaust (accessed December 13, 2021)
“The Hidden Holocaust Memorial of Madison Park: A Manhattan Courthouse Hides a Small but Scathing Memorial to Holocaust Injustice.”, https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-hidden-holocaust-memorial-of-madison-park-new-york-new-york (accessed December 13, 2021)