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|When I was asked to participate in a competition for the design of a Monument to commemorate the Jewish inhabitants of Wageningen and surroundings that perished during the second world war, my reaction in first instance was “I can’t possibly do that considering my harrowing memories of that period and the anxiety that still affects me when thinking about such situations”.
But very gradually I grew into the job and even started to feel it as my duty to contribute to this project, even if only out of respectfulness for those that were not allowed to survive.
Imagining how such an object should affect passers by, I came to the conclusion that it should not merely be a depressing sculpture, but that – despite the tragic subject – it should convey a message of hope for the future as well.
Working on, I gradually saw a “Gate of Life” rising before me, through which those that survived the tragedy walk hand in hand and the others are sadly left behind.
All those who passed this Gate of Life and arrived in the present alive and all the generations after them, are as well still connected to their tragic past as courageously on their way to a better life.
Strong and upright they are part of our society, but stay vigilant to avoid repetition of the unthinkable in the future.
The Monument now stands at the side of the ‘Walstraat’ in Wageningen, at a short distance from the canal, that was the towns’ ancestral boundary, and right across from the place where the synagogue used to be before the war.
The front of the monument (the Life side of the Gate) is illuminated by a beam of light at night.