This sobering memorial stands in dark contrast to the sunny light-filled city in which it stands.
The Desert Holocaust Memorial was created by the sculptor Dee Clements, and officially opened in 1995. The work is immersive and sobering, vividly retelling the story of the Holocaust through friezes and statues.
On approaching the memorial site, you’ll first see a ring of trees encircling it, which represent life outside of the Nazi concentration camps. Walking into the memorial area, the cobbled path and replica camp-lights echo those of the infamous death camp, Auschwitz.
The centerpiece of Clements’ memorial is an assemblage of seven larger than life figures, representing a demographic cross-section of the Jewish people who were rounded up by the Nazis. Some are defiant, while others look defeated. They stand on a doubled-tiered Star of David carved from granite, upon which is carved a European map marking out the 19 concentration camps.
Take the time to study the 11 bronze relief plaques surrounding the statues. These snapshots depict the story of the Holocaust: mass transportations by train, the dehumanizing camps, the gas chambers and, eventually, liberation by Allied troops.
Children are welcome, if they are old enough to be respectful. Make sure they understand that this memorial is not a play park.
The Desert Holocaust Memorial is situated in Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of downtown Palm Springs. The memorial’s surrounding park with its waterways, picnic areas and playground provides the perfect place to unwind before heading back into Palm Springs.
The park is open daily and entry is free.