Holocaust memorial often overlooked in Marshall Park

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This weekend Charlotte's Jewish community will hold events to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day. They'll take place at Shalom Park, home to Temple Beth El and Temple Israel.

There is another Holocaust memorial that few people know about. It stands in an obscure corner of Marshall Park in Uptown Charlotte where few people notice it as they walk by.

"To have it like that is awful," said Susan Cernyak-Spatz, who survived two years in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. "This is not a place where anybody will go to. It's hidden in a place where nobody ever goes."

The stone monument mentions Holocaust Square, where the memorial used to be located near Morehead Street and Dilworth Road.

In 1998, the monument was moved to Marshall Park in the hopes that it would be seen by more people. It never happened. Most people have no idea it's there and no one we watched walk by it on McDowell Street even glanced in its direction.

"I don't think it's that anybody did it on purpose to hide it," said Ken Garfield, a member of Charlotte's Jewish community who says he's been bothered by its location for years. "It's one of those things that just sort of got lost and it's sitting here waiting to be relocated to a more thoughtful place."

So far, no one seems to have a good idea where to put it. Mecklenburg County's Park and Recreation Department is in charge of Marshall Park and said it has no plans to move it but wouldn't oppose the idea.

After Eyewitness News contacted park officials Friday, a landscaping crew came to the memorial to plant new flowers.

One place that doesn't want it is Shalom Park.

Sue Worrel, the head of Charlotte's Jewish Federation, said Shalom Park already has a robust and diverse group of Holocaust exhibits and memorials. In addition, Worrel said there's a need for a Holocaust memorial that all of Charlotte can see and think about.

"Having a memorial in a non-Jewish location among the larger Charlotte population is very, very important to us," she said.

Worrel said leaders in the Jewish community had discussions with the county about moving the monument last year but never came to a decision. She says those conversations are resuming again in the hopes of finding a prominent and permanent place to remember the Holocaust.

For Susan Cernyak-Spatz, she doesn't really care where it ends up as long as people see it and remember the horror she survived.

"I lived it," she says, "and it's important to me that people don't forget."