The Besser Holocaust Memorial Garden was inspired by the generosity of longtime Atlanta resident and Holocaust survivor Abe Besser and his wife, Marlene Gelernter Besser. Built in memory of his family and the other six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, the memorial serves as a testament to Jewish faith, fortitude, and hope.
Featuring nine sculptures by renowned sculptor Dee Clements and an eternal flame (or “ner tamid”), the memorial depicts different aspects of Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. It provides a space for reflection, remembrance, and education on the site of a living Jewish Community Center. Thus, today we say: may their memory — and their lives — be a blessing to us all.
Abe’s mother, Rifka, was murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz like millions of other Jewish men, women, and children. His father and brother were murdered at camp Gross-Rosen and his oldest brother was shot when caught hiding out. His four sisters worked in a factory sewing German army uniforms and survived the Holocaust. In the Jewish tradition of zachor, we remember those killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.
This memorial also honors the legacy of those who survived, like Abe Besser. The five rooms of the memorial lead visitors through a moving artistic impression of these years: the pervasive and extensive Jewish life of pre-war Europe, the years of persecution in Germany, the first steps toward the Holocaust, the genocide itself, and the difficult rebuilding of life post-war.
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