2020 Holocaust Hero

Academics

Students Design Memorials for Holocaust

For multiple weeks in December, 11th grade Humanities students grapple with the horrors of the Holocaust through research and reading. The culmination of the unit asked students to contemplate a message of remembrance and envision a monument to be located somewhere in Seattle.

“Making the memorial and thinking about remembrance, I thought about how the Holocaust wasn’t something that just happened,” says Graycie V. ‘22. “It happened slowly over time, and it could happen again if we don’t remember it.”

Students’ Holocaust memorial proposals required details of the scale, materials, the location, a mock-up design, and a detailed artist statement explaining their message, audience, and overall rationale behind their vision.

Graycie conceived of a memorial in the Olympic Sculpture Park featuring a garden in the center of a gazebo, with the roof shaped like a concave Star of David to remember the Jews killed in the Holocaust. Around the gazebo was a garden of pansies, because the flowers represent remembrance. On the inside of the roof was the word “remember” written in all the languages of the victims of the Holocaust.

Reese H. ‘21 envisioned a memorial commemorating those who died in Vilna, Poland. Her memorial consisted of a large piece of metal displaying many6 small doors. On the outside of each door was a description of someone who lived in Vilna during the Holocaust. On the inside of the door was the story of each person, whether they lived or died, and what happened in their life. Reese chose to focus on Vilna because that is where her family immigrated from.

“I know I have people in my life who had specific stories and I will never be able to hear them,” says Reese. “Thinking about this memorial made this project a lot more special and personal to me, because of those connections.”

Students read Primo Levy’s memoir, Survival in Auschwitz, during the unit. To prepare for the creative response, students researched existing Holocaust memorials around the world and wrote descriptions of the messages behind the memorials. The Humanities teachers encouraged students to think about a monument’s purpose in Seattle, which is largely removed from the Holocaust.

“Studying the past obligates us to look at what is happening in the world today that we choose to look away from,” says Humanities teacher Isaac Meyer. “This project is about breaking past that apathy.”