A major modernization of Boston’s New England Holocaust Memorial (NEHM) is poised to bring more meaning, education and depth to visits to the site and allow people around the world to visit virtually.
The improvements come at a time when reports of antisemitic speech and hate crimes have sharply increased and Holocaust education and surveys indicate awareness is at an all-time low across the United States.
The enhancements to the site were announced at a press conference attended by Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Kim Janey, Holocaust survivor Janet Applefield, the Rev. Lorraine Thornhill of the Kingdom Empowerment Center, and leaders of organizations involved in the effort, including Marc Baker, president and CEO of Combined Jewish Philanthropies; Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC); Josh Kraft, president of the Kraft Family Foundation; and Roger Brooks, president and CEO of Facing History and Ourselves.
The memorial was completed in downtown Boston in 1995, founded by Holocaust survivor Stephan Ross (z”l), who was liberated from Dachau at age 14. Its six glass towers are etched with numbers, representing the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in World War II. The site, located just across from City Hall along the Freedom Trail, is managed by CJP, with JCRC coordinating programming and Facing History and Ourselves offering educational resources. The three organizations worked together to complete the site upgrades. Ross’s granddaughter, Addison Dion, said her grandfather “would be so proud” to see the new features at the site.
Through the website, visitors can access a 3D virtual tour complete with “stops” at points of interest with audio and video to enhance the experience. For those visiting in person, a QR code and numbered stops offer an in-depth, nine-stop tour through a visitor’s smartphone. The site also features a flyover for a rare view of the memorial from above.
Perhaps the most significant new feature is the voices of local survivors and their first-hand accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust. Mayor Kim Janey, who visited Israel with JCRC as a member of the Boston City Council, said the words of those who had seen humanity’s worst are vitally important to hear.
“Through this important resource, the voices of our survivors will live on for generations, so that even those born today, who may never hear a Holocaust survivor, will know their story, know their history and learn from the past,” Janey said.
Gov. Baker hailed the technology improvements as a major step forward in making the memorial more accessible.
“I am proud that the New England Holocaust Memorial has implemented these virtual expansions, ensuring that even more people have the opportunity to experience this powerful place and learn from the history it contains,” he said.
CJP’s Baker said that the upgrades to the site—which include QR codes that link to the words of Holocaust survivors, videos and other information—come at a critical time with acts of antisemitism and hate on the rise locally and globally.
“When we visit this memorial, we remember the horrors, the genocide, the crimes perpetrated by human beings against human beings, to remind ourselves that this can happen again, so we never let this happen again,” Baker said. “This is how, together, we ensure that the lights of all those who were murdered in the Holocaust and of our beloved survivors will never go out.”
Plan your visit at the new NEHM website.
Watch the full video of the event below.