The Story of the Monument
“She Wouldn’t Take Off Her Boots”
North Carolina’s First Women’s Holocaust Monument
“She Wouldn’t Take Off Her Boots”
In Honor of Brave Mothers EVA WEINER and SOFIA GURAlNIK
Building upon the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust, “She Wouldn’t Take Off Her Boots” will be North Carolina’s First Women’s Holocaust Monument. This original sculpture by artist Victoria Milstein will honor the strength and resilience of all women.
The Monument is beautifully situated in one of Greensboro’s downtown parks, becoming a place for the community to remember the Holocaust and have the impactful opportunity to be a witness to history. The monument honor those who perished and makes a statement against the murder of women and children, antisemitism, and all genocide. It educates new generations about how the past can inform the present and future.
This initiative can serve as a resource for North Carolina’s Holocaust Education Act, which requires the State Board of Education to include instruction of the Holocaust and genocide. Situated near cultural and educational institutions and in the heart of downtown, the monument will offer visual tools for scholars and Holocaust educators.
We are proud that the site of this monument will be in Greensboro, a city that recognizes the diversity of our community and is committed to using the Arts as a vehicle to educate and unite in the pursuit of social justice.
A Bronze Monument
Carolina Bronze Sculpture, the East coast’s premier art foundry, located close to Greensboro in Seagrove, N.C., worked with Victoria on the bronze fabrication of the maquette.
A look through the lens in front of the monument at Lebauer Park.
In Her Words
We see the strength and the humility of generations of Jewish women from Liepaja, moments before they were murdered by Nazis in 1941. They stand in their innocence; their only crime was that they were Jews. The photo I used as inspiration for the monument was taken by a Nazi photographer to document the victories of the Nazi regime as propaganda for its German citizens. My hope is that each time one views the monument from that perspective, one becomes witness to exactly the opposite of what the Nazi photographer intended to document.
Standing arm-in-arm are five women in their last act, looking straight at us today, with grace, humanity and defiance. The older woman, asked to strip, stands in the center with her boots on as she clutches onto the arms of generations of women in her family. The two figures on the end of the grouping bring us physically into the sculpture, revealing an emotional narrative of their impending death. With a snap of the camera we almost can’t comprehend the innocence that we see. One sees the subtle emotions of fear, disbelief, terror and even hope. The youngest, with her head bent, clutches her fists, communicating the human horror of the Holocaust and reminding us of the several million children that were exterminated.
I was very influenced by Rodin’s sculpture of the “The Burghers of Calais” where each figure communicates the emotional journey of their impending death. When I first saw the photograph, I saw my sisters, Jewish women, and it changed me forever. You can’t un-see what you have seen.
For information about Victoria and the studio please visit VCM Studio.
Watch Victoria’s TEDxGreensboro Talk.
Letters of Support
We have tremendous community support from state, federal and community leadership.
North Carolina Holocaust Council
I believe the Holocaust Monument, “She Wouldn’t Take Off Her Boots” is critical to further racial and ethnic understanding in North Carolina. I feel the monument will prompt North Carolinians to study the impact of bigotry and intolerance on society similar to the Woolworth’s lunch counter at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.
The Holocaust occurred because good people did not take action against hate. This monument will prompt individuals to consider how their behavior affects others and will motivate individuals to work together with the goal to eliminate the negative misconceptions we have of each other…
The monument will serve as a focal point where individuals and classes can initiate frank and honest dialogue about pluralism, tolerance and acceptance. A key lesson of the Holocaust is that hate will thrive when ignorance and indifference exist in a community.
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
…Greensboro has a widely respected reputation as a place with a long history of social justice activities on behalf of recognizing the dignity of every human being. It is the most fitting place that I can imagine for expanding the civil and human rights dialog that might be focused on such a powerful monument. The opportunity for a prominent placement of the sensitively conceived sculpture adds to the potentially enlightening character of internationally recognized conversations, enriched with reminders of Greensboro’s lesson to the rest of the world and its status as a “Civil Rights City.”
517 S Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27406