Emmons Ave Holocaust Memorial Site Raises Controversy

holocaust memorial stone markers

Just a few days ago, we wrote about the planned addition of markers to honor non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust at New York’s first public, outdoor Holocaust memorial, park, and musuem.

Now, the NY Post is reporting that Assemblyman Dov Hikind with others of like mind staged a protest of the planned memorial to honor “homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled, political prisoners and Roma and Sinti Gypsies, who were also persecuted and killed by the Nazis.”

Apparently, Dov Hikind speaks for quite a few Jewish people when he says that only Jews are allowed at the symbolic cemetery. One Sheepshead Bay resident we spoke with, a survivor of the Holocaust whose entire family was killed, said,

I don’t want to talk about sex, but gypsies are okay to be in the memorial. But, homosexuals I don’t know…this memorial should not reflect anything about the homosexuals. If they want to honor them, that should be in another memorial. Those days in the forties, people didn’t talk about that. It was hidden, so the gypsies were there in the camps, but the homosexuals — well, we didn’t have any idea about that.”

Another Sheepshead Bay resident, whose grandmother managed to escape the suffering by emigrating to the United States, had always felt that any Holocaust memorial should honor those lost in the massacre by celebrating life, not in a display of headstones. He said that when she visited the site as it turned from a green patch to a semi-cemetery, she remarked that it might have been better identified with a plaque and set up as a place for children to play and laugh, instead.

Readers, we would like to hear from you about what you think should happen with the city-owned Holocaust memorial park. We want to know what to expect when Mayor Bloomberg heads over to Shore Parkway & Emmons Avenue this coming Sunday afternoon for the 25th Annual Gathering and Exhibit put together by The Holocaust Memorial Committee.

Will we have Jewish protesters speaking out while the homosexual and Gypsy representatives lay the new headstones? Or will everyone keep their opinions on the blogs and in the newspapers, thus allowing the memorial to remain solemn?

UPDATE from Tuesday, June 9, 2009:
The New York Jewish Week reports that:

Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz, who represents Sheepshead Bay, released a statement in support of the new markers, saying “the park’s purpose is most definitely to educate as well as commemorate. Excluding Holocaust victims who were not Jewish would be sending a message that is 180 degrees opposite of what we need to communicate.