Va. Holocaust Museum to unveil new Children’s Memorial

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:41 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Holocaust Museum will unveil its new permanent Children’s Memorial on Wednesday as museum leaders say it’s the first of its kind in the United States.

The memorial took more than a year to construct, but its impact will be long-lasting.

“When you see this exhibit, it tears at your heart, and you understand that children are gone,” said the museum’s Executive Director Samuel Asher.

Rows and rows of classroom desks are reflected through an infinity mirror – desks that were never filled by children.

“It is heartbreaking,” said Dr. Roger Loria. “You can’t say more than that.”

It’s an image that hits close to home for Loria – a Holocaust survivor.

“I’m the lucky one who made it, but all of those did not,” he added.

Loria escaped work camps with his mother twice as a toddler before they were caught at the border of Switzerland and sent to a refugee camp.

“I have this visual of this Swiss guard lifting the barb wire and letting us come in,” Loria said.

While his life after the war had challenges, he was able to receive an education; something thousands of children of the Holocaust never had.

“We lost enormously by them not growing up and not contributing to society,” Loria said.

However, their memories will be remembered permanently at the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

Using mirrors and dim lighting, the Children’s Memorial is a first of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to the Holocaust’s youngest victims.

“People are very sad when they come in and walk out because they realize it’s intended to explain, which is unexplainable, the death of a million and a half children,” Asher said.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, also uses an infinity mirror with flashing lights.

Virginia’s memorial opens alongside a traveling exhibit called “All That Remains: A Holocaust Exhibition in Fiber,” dedicated to discussing the Holocaust through textiles. The key is in the details.

“Every little element that I put in one of these pieces means something,” said Leslie J. Klein, the fiber artist.

Images of children and adults are photo transferred onto the material. Each piece shares a story of its own.

“This is how we remember them,” Klein said. “By our own involvement and our own thoughts and commitment to remembering them.”

Both exhibits are officially open to the public on Thursday, April 7. The museum asks visitors to schedule tours online to ensure enough social distancing.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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