Broken Heart Monument
Children’s Martyrdom Monument (Broken Heart Monument) IN GRAY RANKS PARK
In the autumn of 1942, at the behest of Reichsführer-SS, a camp for children and young people was established in Łódź in Przemysłowa Street under the official name: “Polen – Jugendverwahrlager der Sicherheits – Polizei in Litzmannstadt”. It was created in the area of the closed quarter Litzmannstadt Ghetto and started operating on 1 December 1942.
In the area limited by the streets Bracka, Emilii Plater, Górnicza and Sporna, behind a barbed wire fence, children from all over Poland, as well as other countries, were kept. They were orphans whose parents had been executed or imprisoned, adolescent participants of the resistance movement and victims of street roundups. Young prisoners between 3 and 16 were kept in very difficult conditions beatings, hunger, numerous epidemics, hard physical labor and lack of medical care. At the end of 1943, there were 1 086 boys and about 250 girls at the camp. Conditions were similar to those at concentration camps, children above 8 were forced to work while receiving highly inadequate food rations. Many of them died as a result of diseases, exhaustion, hunger, and often violence. Boys made straw shoes, wicker baskets, gas mask straps and leather parts of military backpacks, while girls worked in laundries and tailoring workshops. The camp at Przemysłowa Street existed until the liberation of Łódź in January 1945. 900 young prisoners in a state of utter exhaustion lived to see their freedom.
The first form of commemorating the martyrdom of children detained in the camp at ul. Przemysłowa, was to give the Primary School No. 81 the name of the Heroic Children of Łódź on June 1, 1966. The following year, the Committee for the Construction of the Monument to the Martyrdom of Children of Łódź met and decided to locate the monument in the Promieniści Park, today named after the Gray Ranks. On November 9, 1968, a competition was held for the concept of the monument, which was implemented according to the design of an outstanding sculptor from Łódź, the creator of many Łódź sculptures and monuments, Jadwiga Janus * and Ludwik Mackiewicz. The ceremony of laying the foundation act took place on September 13, 1969.
The idea of the monument is expressed by the following words of its foundation act: “Let it pass on to the future generations our shared thoughts and shared cry: No more war, no more camps.” Monument foundations were built in the spring of 1970 by Municipal Construction Company No. 3, and the entire “Heart” was completed in the spring of 1971. The ceremonial unveiling of the monument took place on 9 May 1971. On the same day, the Łódź Region of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association was named after the Heroic Polish Children.
The Children's Martyrdom Monument presents a broken heart (8 m high) made of metallized concrete, in the crevice of which there is a multiplied figure of an inverted, emaciated child. In front of the monument there is a candle and a plate with the inscription: "Your life was taken away, today we only give you memory". The second plate, behind the monument, reads: “In recognition of their martyrdom, the Council of State of the Polish People's Republic awards the Order of the Cross of Grunwald 2nd class to the Children murdered in this camp by the Nazi genocides. 8 May 1971.” To the south of the monument there is a concrete symbolic fence with the names of places where other death camps existed. The monument, popularly known as the Broken Heart Monument, is the destination of numerous trips for children and young people not only from Łódź, as well as a place of ceremonial meetings, e.g. on Children's Day.
* Jadwiga Janus Łubniewicz (born on 21 October 1931 in Stadnicka Wola, died on 8 March 2019 in Łódź) – a Polish sculptor and installation author.
She graduated in 1957 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Faculty of Sculpture, in the studio of Xawery Dunikowski. For over half a century, the artist lived and worked in Łódź (she made sculptures in bronze, aluminum, wood, stone, ceramics and other materials, as well as paintings, drawings and installations). She is the author of the famous Monument to the Martyrdom of Children (Broken Heart Monument) in the Szarych Szeregów park in Łódź. In 2002, the bust of Nicolaus Copernicus was unveiled in front of the hospital named after him in Łódź. She is also the author of sacral sculptures to be found for instance in Kopciński St. or at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Nawrot St. in Łódź, as well as at several other churches in the region and across Poland.
In 2018, Jadwiga Janus donated a collection of 16 spatial forms to the Bałucki Center for Culture. Her works can be found in many Polish museums, as well as in private collections in Poland and abroad.
The artist's ashes were buried in the Old Cemetery in Łódź.