- Posted December 3, 2012 by
Nashua, New Hampshire
Team iReport featured this story
Hiding Hanukkah: Holocaust Survivor Remembers and Honors Victims of War
- hhanks, CNN iReport producer
NASHUA, N.H. – When Fred Teeboom, 74, lights his menorah, hesitation, followed by a mixture of gratitude and bitterness, glow with his candles. During the early stages of World War II, Teeboom, then 5 years old, was instructed to conceal his Jewish heritage to avoid Nazi capture. His parents arranged for him to be smuggled into the Dutch city of Utrecht, separating Teeboom from his family and hometown of Amsterdam. Teeboom lived under the protection of a Christian family, disguising his Judaism and assuming the habits of a religion he knew nothing about.
Years later, Teeboom’s family reunited in Aruba and later immigrated to the United States. Since then, Teeboom says vivid memories of his survival surface, especially during the holidays.
“Our survival was nothing short of a miracle, because over 100 members of our extended family were murdered in Auschwitz,” said Teeboom, “I am thankful to the family who took me in, to all the families who risked their own lives to save others.”
In 2009, Teeboom decided to do more than give thanks. With the help of his family, friends and strangers he raised funds to construct a memorial, a physical tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Located in Nashua, the New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial stands in the geographic center of New England. Because the Holocaust affected Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, political dissidents and others, Teeboom says the memorial’s reach to survivors and kin is significant.
“Memories may fade, but memorials last forever,” said Teeboom. “We designed this to be a lasting reminder for generations.” Teeboom, an engineer, undertook extensive efforts to create a structure that is not only physically sound, but symbolic and reverent to lives lost during World War II.
Six massive granite walls stand in a hexagonal pattern, none of them touching. The walls have etchings of barbed wire on one side, and on the opposite, the name of an extermination camp: Auschwitz, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec and Chelmno. The walls are topped with rail stock, reminiscent of railroad that carried millions to their death. In the center of the hexagon is a lone brick pedestal, capped with a marble cube, symbolic of the gas chambers and crematoriums used by the Nazis.
Teeboom plans to install and dedicate a park bench in honor of the family that hid him. Descendants of the family are currently living in Canada and Holland and will be in attendance at a dedication ceremony planned in 2013.
The memorial may draw attention to some of the darkest times in history, but Teeboom insists that remembering the Holocaust can lead to hope. By recognizing atrocities committed, the memorial intends to draw attention to acts of genocide occurring today. Future plans for the memorial include: a Holocaust survivor sculpture, bronzed children’s toys, clothes and shoes, installation of reclaimed railway tracks and continuous upgrades to an interactive and informative website: http://www.nhholocaustmemorial.org.
As Teeboom prepares for Hanukkah, a sense of relief has joined his holiday emotions. “Knowing the memorial will soon be finished gives me hope for brighter days ahead,” Teeboom said, “All of us can do our part to pay tribute to the victims of genocide, simply by learning, remembering and committing to never return to such darkness.”
Exact plans for the dedication ceremony are tentative, but Teeboom says he will light candles. The candles will honor all children who missed or concealed a holiday celebration, or simply longed to be among the comforts of family.
Donations to complete and maintain the memorial may be made in any amount. Donors can also direct funds to personalized memorial benches or inscribed bricks that will be placed in the entry path. To make a donation, visit: http://www.nhholocaustmemorial.org.
The New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial is the first and only Holocaust memorial in the state of New Hampshire. The memorial is intended to memorialize the victims of mass murder and to honor the courageous people who risked their lives to save strangers in desperate need. The New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax-deductible within the limits of the law.