A memorial to the survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides is being erected at Sonoma State University as a reminder of the inhumanity that has happened and as a warning it could take place again.
?Any type of unjust treatment is completely reprehensible,? said Jann Nunn, an SSU associate art professor who is creating the memorial.
?This is a university campus, this is an obvious place to do this so people won?t forget these things happened. It is only through an educational effort that we can do that.?
The idea for the public memorial grew out of SSU?s Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide and from a lecture series several years ago that featured genocide survivors.
?We decided we needed a more lasting memorial and we need to educate students about present-day genocide,? said Elaine Leeder, the dean of SSU?s Social Sciences Department. ?It is more relevant today.?
The memorial is not just a reminder of the Holocaust, however. It is also for the survivors of genocide in Armenia, Darfur, Rwanda and Cambodia, and American Indians in the United States.
?What makes this one remarkable is it doesn?t focus on a single genocide, but on the universality and the commonality with respect to genocide,? said David Salm, a Santa Rosa businessman and a major contributor to the project. ?It has brought numerous communities together, creating a coalition and an awareness that there has been suffering across the globe and we are all brothers in this.?
For Leeder and Salm, the memorial also has personal meaning.
Leeder?s father fled Lithuania before World War II and her mother fled Poland, where Leeder lost 100 relatives in the Holocaust.
?The Holocaust has been part of my life since I was born,? Leeder said. ?It is what we talk about. Especially now, it has been over 60 years and there is something in the Bible that says after 60 years you speak about the traumas in your life.?
Salm?s parents fled Germany.
?My family was enormously lucky,? Salm said. ?My parents, who were both born and raised in Germany, were able to leave under great duress. They arrived in this country as penniless refugees, but filled with enormous gratitude and hope.?
The memorial is being erected in the Erna and Arthur Salm Grove, named after his parents.
The memorial, which will cost about $100,000, consists of 45 feet of railroad track that will merge at a 12-foot-tall, illuminated glass tower, with bricks engraved with the names of some genocide survivors inlaid around the tracks.
To raise money for the memorial, the engraved bricks are being sold for $100 and $250, with 300 bricks sold so far.
The tracks have been put in place, while the glass tower, made of 5,000 individual pieces, is taking shape in Nunn?s studio.
?It?s a big monument ... 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide,? Nunn said. ?I felt like it needed to be a big statement. Because it is a multigenocide monument, there are plenty of people who have been affected by it, just in Sonoma County. Our thoughts are there would be a lot of people interested in this project, and by purchasing a brick, that is a way to participate in having a lasting memorial.?