MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) –This week marks the 70th anniversary of when the soviets liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp, where the Nazis murdered as many as one and a half million people, mainly Jews.
Now a group works to build a holocaust memorial in Myrtle Beach.
Joy Glunt, an organizer behind the project, said the idea started with a local teacher who created the butterfly project in Myrtle Beach in 1998.
Eleanor Schiller and her students collected and made more than a million paper butterflies in memory of the children who died in the holocaust.
“When that project was started here on Oak Street there were 4 or 5 survivors in Myrtle Beach. I’m the only one left,” said Hugo Schiller, Eleanor’s husband.
Glunt said when she was writing a book about the project she had the idea to make a permanent monument, with the butterfly as the main symbol.
The group is working to get the Holocaust Memorial built in Grand Park in Myrtle Beach. It will read, “In memory of all the children & their families who were killed in the Holocaust, and in Honor of the Holocaust survivors, the rescuers, and the liberators.”
“We were the first Jews to be deported and we were deported to Gurs which was a small town with a concentration camp at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains,” said Hugo Schiller.
Schiller was in the holding camp for about 5 months when a group arrived offering to take a certain amount of children out of the camp. He said his parents signed off immediately, knowing it was the only chance their son had to survive.
He was 9-years-old and it would be the last time he saw his parents.
“Almost immediately after we were on our way, the deportation to Auschwitz started and I found out after the war when I was in Israel that actually my parents were sent to Auschwitz,” said Hugo.
From the camp, Hugo was sent to an orphanage. He was one of 8 children sent to Marseille, France. Documents in his home are a reminder of the journey he would make from there to the United States.
“My first cousin picked me up and we proceeded to their house in Manhattan and I grew up there I was 11 at the time,” said Hugo.
Schiller said a permanent monument will be a reminder of the 6 million Jewish people and the million more who were killed during the Holocaust. He said we must never forget.
The monument costs $32,300 dollars to build. Glunt said they still need close to $18,000. On Tuesday, they approached Myrtle Beach City Council to request help with the funding.