AUSCHWITZ, Poland – A unique memorial installed near the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp honors the memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
The memorial called "Fountain of Tears" is located within view of the notorious death camp, and combines the suffering of millions with the search for the Messiah.
"It’s a place to remember what happened in Auschwitz-Birkenau, here in the Holocaust," said Karen Forth, a tour guide at the Fountain of Tears.
"It’s also a place for dialogue, for questions, a place to think about the suffering of the Holocaust especially of the Jewish people from a different perspective."
Created by the Israeli artist Rick Wienecke, the exhibit includes his own questions in his search for God.
"It connects the suffering of the Holocaust with the suffering of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach. And the artist Rick Wienecke is asking the question, 'Is there any connection at all between His suffering and the suffering of the Jewish people?'" Forth explained.
The sculpture is a replica of the original at the artist’s home in Israel. As visitors enter the Poland memorial, they see a dark, winding Hall of Questions that introduces Wienecke's story behind the fountain.
"It was not easy to put the Shoah and the suffering of the crucifixion of Jesus together in one exhibition," said Forth. "Especially because they’re the two hardest topics for the Jewish people."
Wienecke’s first question is, "'Does prayer begin to express itself the moment when it is touched by a tear?' And you can see the little teardrop coming down and the seed is touched by a tear," the tour guide explained, describing the image.
Wienecke, who is not Jewish, asks how he can combine the crucifixion and Holocaust. In the Bible, God tells his people to remember but Wienecke asked how could he create a memorial to something he doesn’t personally remember. The answer he believes God gave him comes in the last panel.
“But I do. I remember every man, every child, every woman. I remember every wagon, every train pit, every gas chamber, every prayer, every cry, every tear. I remember," Forth said, recounting the answer Wienecke received.
The name of the sculpture is based on Jeremiah 9: “Oh that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears.”
Wienecke's piece begins by comparing the Nazi ghettos to the Garden of Gethsemane.
"Suffering was already very intense in the ghetto," Forth explained. "It was the beginning of the suffering or the moment before."
The journey continues inside the main hall of the Fountain of Tears.
"The Fountain of Tears itself and the journey continues from the moment before the crucifixion before the camps into the camp and the crucifixion itself," said Forth.
Seven panels show the seven last statements Jesus spoke on the cross-connected with a life-size bronze sculpture of a concentration camp survivor.
"He does represent a survivor, somebody who survived and that’s important," Forth noted. The Panels are divided by six pillars "to remember the six million, six for the six million, with water flowing down, which represents the tears, the cry from Jeremiah."
Jesus’ last seven statements or words on the cross were: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34); "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43); "Jesus said to his mother: ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple: ‘this is your mother’” (John 19:26-27); "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34); "I thirst" (John 19:28); “When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘it is finished;’ and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit” (John 19:30); and “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’” (Luke 23:46).
Forth says each panel is actually a dialogue with the Holocaust. It is also an invitation to the viewers to ponder if there is any connection between the cross and the Holocaust.