Amsterdam – Wertheim Park
On Sunday, after visiting the closed Energetica Museum, Somma and I wandered over to Wertheim Park. This small but inviting park is a remnant from when France occupied Holland– the land was originally a gift to the city from Napoleon. Today the park houses a reminder of another wartime occupation. Wertheim Park is home to Amsterdam’s Auschwitz Memorial.
Before the German Invasion, there were 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands. After the war was over, only 5,200 had survived the concentration camps and returned. That means roughly 96% never made it home.
The memorial in Wertheim Park consists of panels of broken mirrors on the ground. It reflects the sky which, having witnessed such atrocities, will be “wounded forever“.
I believe it was well planned to have the memorial surrounded by such a simple, but lovely park. Just as brief glimpses of a horse chestnut tree brought Anne Frank happiness, the park can remind us about the beauty admist the varied and ugly sins of our past… and present.
A large tree stands in the park, nearby the memorial. The twists and knots in its bark, document the trials of a long life. It has taken its wounds, continued on, and grew into something more rugged, more stable, yet inspiring and beautiful.
If a tree can do it, perhaps then, so can mankind.