(JHE) — Mazel tov! The Memorial Park project on the site of the destroyed Great Synagogue in Oświęcim, the town in southern Poland where the Nazis built the Auschwitz death camp, has received an architectural prize presented by the Małopolska Voivodeship (region).
The park, a project of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, won first place in the best public space category of the Stanisław Witkiewicz awards, a prize presented every two years for the best modern architectural projects “conducive to the protection and shaping of the cultural landscape of Małopolska.”
The Great Synagogue Memorial Park was inaugurated with a concert and candlelit ceremony November 28 — 80 years after the Nazis occupiers burned the synagogue down on November 29, 1939. The site was long an empty lot, with in recent years signage describing the synagogue. Oświęcim’s mayor, around 200 local citizens, and some 50 descendants of Oświęcim Jews attended the dedication.
In describing why the Park received the award, the judges stated:
A subtle architectural intervention turned a neglected part of the city into a place of reflection and memory. The memory of the demolished synagogue was realized with modest means and without resorting to literalness, and thanks to the project Oświęcim gained an interesting sign of the brutally cut off culture of a part of its community.
The park was designed by Bartosz Haduch and Łukasz Marjański, of NArchitekTURA, with cooperation from Magdalena Poprawska, Imaginga Studio.
The design includes the demarcated outline of the footprint of the destroyed synagogue, within it a path made out of stone slabs, and several benches.
Archaeological excavations in 2004 discovered candlesticks and other material from the synagogue, including the Eternal Light (Ner Tamid), which are now displayed in the Auschwitz Jewish Center’s Museum. The Memorial Park includes a replica of the candelabra as well as a triangular structure containing historic photographs of the synagogue.
Click the arrow to see images of the design of the park.