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FARMINGTON HILLS, MI-A ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was recently held for a new $17-million Holocaust Memorial museum. The museum will be the second such facility in Oakland County, and one of the only free-standing buildings in the world that has the purpose of explaining and educating the public on the atrocities committed against the Jews during World War II by the Nazis.

“We’ve had an outpouring of interest in the services provided by the existing facility,” says Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, the museum director. “We must expand to fully meet the ever-growing demands on our services.”

The new 53,000-sf museum will be built around the Old Orchard Theater on Orchard Lake Road.

The new facility will include a walk-through history lesson of the Jewish culture before, during and after WWII, the Final Solution room that will detail the murder of 6 million Jews and the International Institute of the Righteous theater, which will feature films honoring democratic solutions to conflicts and stories of bravery.

The entire building will be funded with private donations from the community residents. The museum is also raising another $8 million to operate the new center.

Architecturally, the building will be one of a kind. It will feature symbolism in its construction. Portions of the outside of the building will include a replica of the deadly ovens and their smokestacks, the exterior bricks will mimic barbed wire fences, a second floor will be painted in stripes like the former prison uniforms and six glass spires will each honor 1 million killed.

“The purpose of this building is to be eternal,” says US Rep. Sander Levin, who spoke at the groundbreaking. “We need to make sure that the horror of the past stays in the minds of the present.”

The first 12,000-sf Holocaust Museum, in West Bloomfield, has been deemed too small to handle the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The 18-year-old facility, which has had 2.5 million visitors, will used for another museum purpose once the new museum opens in the fall of 2003, possibly as a conference center, says museum chairman of development Saul Waldman.

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