The News Journal
A marker at the Garden of the Righteous Gentiles explains that the tranquil site is dedicated as the nation’s first monument honoring those who helped Jews survive the Holocaust. / ROBIN BROWN/THE NEWS JOURNAL
If you go
The Garden of the Righteous Gentiles at the Jewish Community Center, 101 Garden of Eden Road in Talleyville, will be rededicated in a free, public ceremony at 3 p.m. April 7.
For more information, contact Gina Kozicki at 427-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delaware’s Garden of the Righteous Gentiles – the nation’s first monument honoring Christians who saved Jews’ lives in the Nazi Holocaust – has been restored and will be rededicated April 7 in a public ceremony.
The historic garden at the Bernard and Ruth Siegel Jewish Community Center in Talleyville was created in 1981, its trees planted by Holocaust survivors living in Delaware.
Each of the original saplings, now tall shade trees, honored a specific rescuer, except for one tree dedicated in honor of “the unknown righteous.”
The garden recently was restored by its original landscape architect, Robert Grenfell, and the Halina Wind Preston Holocaust Education Committee.
The rededication ceremony, set for 3 p.m. at the center at 101 Garden of Eden Road, will include the addition of a new tree, like others honoring those who risked their lives to protect the persecuted.
The tree is to be dedicated by the family of Rachel and Todd Harad in memory of Andree and Suzanne Romain, two sisters who hid Rachel Harad’s father, Charles Rojer, and a dozen other Jewish children in Belgium.
The program’s featured speaker will be Eva Fogelman, author of “Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust” and co-founder of the Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers.
The garden Fogelman will help rededicate was the idea of the late Halina Wind Preston, a Wilmington resident who, in 1950, became one of the first Holocaust survivors in the country to speak publicly and in detail about the subject.
As a young woman, she and nine other Jews lived for 14 months in the sewer system under Nazi-occupied Lwow, Poland, surviving on scraps of food taken to them by two Catholic sewer workers.
Postwar, she married and came to Delaware with George E. Preston, a Russian Jew who had family killed by Nazis, survived Buchenwald and Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps and later helped convict an Auschwitz guard of murder.
He became a top DuPont Co. engineer, representing the company globally and speaking eight languages. He also served on the commission that helped create the Holocaust Memorial at Freedom Plaza in Wilmington.
His wife gave hundreds of talks in Delaware and nationwide, over the decades becoming a prominent Holocaust educator. In 1979, the Prestons and other survivors dedicated the Holocaust Memorial in Wilmington to the 6 million slain Jews, who included her parents and brother.
But she had wanted to do more to remember those who risked their own lives to save Jews.
Their son David, of Philadelphia, told The News Journal years ago that his mother had a “vision of the way to honor them … a garden.”
The Holocaust Education Committee of the Jewish Federation of Delaware created the Garden of the Righteous Gentiles, modeling it after a Jerusalem garden.
Halina Wind Preston died the year after the garden’s dedication.
The committee that created it was renamed for her and – endowed by in part by her husband, who died in 2006 – continues Holocaust education with a library, speakers bureau, projects and biennial lecture.
More than the nation’s first monument to honor Christians who saved Jews in the Holocaust, the garden envisioned by Delaware’s best-known Holocaust survivor and created by the committee now bearing her name was the first such tribute outside Jerusalem.