Garden of Righteous Gentiles

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.