The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston

A Virtual Look

Holocaust Memorial, Boston
Holocaust Memorial, Boston. Robert Harding Productions/Getty Images

The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston is an intriguing, outdoor Holocaust memorial, mainly consisting of six, tall, glass pillars. Located near the historic Freedom Trail, the memorial is definitely worth a visit.

How to Find the Holocaust Memorial in Boston

The short answer as to how to find the New England Holocaust Memorial is that it is on Congress Street in Carmen Park. However, it is also very easily reached if you are following Boston's Freedom Trail.

The Freedom Trail is a historic walk that many tourists follow to see the historic sites of Boston. The trail is a self-lead walk that winds throughout the city and is designated by a red line on the ground (painted on concrete in some parts, inlaid in red brick in others).

This trail starts the visitor at the Boston Common and passes by the state house (with its distinctive golden dome), the Granary Burying Ground (where Paul Revere and John Hancock rest), the location of the Boston Massacre of 1770, Faneuil Hall (famous local site, the town meeting hall), and Paul Revere's house.

Although the Holocaust Memorial is not listed on many tour guides for the Freedom Trail, it is very easy to sidestep the red line by just half a block and get a chance to visit the memorial. Located very near Faneuil Hall, the memorial is built ​on a small grassy area bordered on the west by Congress Street, on the east by Union Street, on the north by Hanover Street, and on the south by North Street.

Plaques and Time Capsule

The memorial begins with two large, granite monoliths that face each other. In between the two monoliths, a time capsule was buried. The time capsule, buried on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on April 18, 1993, contains "the names, submitted by New Englanders, of family and loved ones who perished in the Holocaust."

The Glass Towers

The main part of the memorial consists of six, large towers of glass. Each of these towers represents one of the sixth death camps (Belzec, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Chelmno) and is also a reminder of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust as well as the six years of World War II (1939-1945).

Each tower is made out of plates of glass that are etched with white numbers, which represent the registration numbers of victims.

There is a paved path that travels through the base of each of these towers.

Along the sides of the concrete, in between the towers, are short quotes that give information as well as give remembrance. One quote reads, "Most infants and children were killed immediately upon arrival at the camps. The Nazis murdered as many as one and a half million Jewish children."

When you walk underneath a tower, you realize a number of things. When standing there, your eyes are immediately drawn to the numbers on the glass. Then, your eyes focus on a short quote from survivors, different on each tower, about life either before, within, or after the camps.

Soon, you realize that you are standing on a grate in which warm air is coming out. As Stanley Saitowitz, the designer of the memorial, described it, "like human breath as it passes through the glass chimneys to heaven."*

Under the Towers

If you get down on your hands and knees (which I noticed most visitors did not do), you can look through the grate and see a pit, which has ragged rocks at the bottom. Among the rocks, there are very small, stationary white lights as well as a single light that moves. 

Plaque With Famous Quote

At the end of the memorial, there is a large monolith that leaves the visitor with the famous quote ...

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
---Martin Niemoeller

The New England Holocaust Museum is always open, so be sure to stop by during your visit to Boston.