Garden of Righteous Gentiles

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Wilmington, DE
United States
Garden of Righteous Gentiles

Landscape Information

Sited adjacent to the Bernard and Ruth Siegel Jewish Community Center seven miles north of downtown Wilmington in a suburban neighborhood, this monument commemorates non-Jews who risked their lives to save European Jews during the Holocaust. The idea for the garden originated with Halina Wind Preston, a survivor from Lvov, Poland who dedicated her life to Holocaust education. In 1981 memorial trees were planted by Holocaust survivors residing in Delaware, each flanked by a plaque bearing a rescuer’s name, save one that is dedicated to “the unknown righteous.” 

The Holocaust Education Committee of the Jewish Federation of Delaware commissioned landscape architect Robert Grenfell to design a one-acre commemorative garden, which was formerly dedicated in 1983. To create a serene, contemplative environment secluded from its surroundings, Grenfell encircled it with willow oaks and a copse of cherry laurels. A sign at the entrance declared “This garden honors righteous gentiles who saved Jewish lives during the Nazi Holocaust 1933-1945.” In the 1990s Grenfell added a circular garden bisected by a path that provided a diversity of viewing opportunities.

In preparation for the garden’s rededication in 2013, Grenfell worked with mason Gabriel Gonzales to enrich its opportunities for interpretation. The two developed a semi-circular entrance and rough-hewn stone plaza of sufficient size for educational events. Lettering from the original monument was refinished and reinstalled along a low, serpentine bench wall. Behind the new wall, a bed of azaleas was planted and, further into the setting, Japanese maples and cypresses were installed. Serpentine belts of native inkberry hollies enclose the sides of the garden.