Destroyed Communities Memorial

Morgan Family Center

No city, town or village was too small to escape the diabolical schemes of the Nazis to annihilate the Jewish people and the whole infrastructure that had supported them. Six million Jews perished, but 20,000 Jewish communities also were destroyed.

Holocaust Museum Houston's Destroyed Communities slope serves as a permanent memorial to those Jewish communities that were obliterated during the Holocaust, with more than 340 communities remembered on the memorial.
To be considered a "destroyed community,” a community must have had organized Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Europe, such as a synagogue or house of prayer; a Jewish school; a Jewish cultural establishment; a Kahal (an autonomous body regulating Jewish life); a shochet (kosher butcher); or just the presence of a known Jewish scholar, itinerant rabbi, cantor or teacher of Jewish studies, according to Holocaust survivor Edith Mincberg and co-chair of the project for Holocaust Museum Houston.

According to Mincberg, there was a whole way of thriving Jewish life before this senseless destruction. Locally, the Museum focuses on those communities of survivors who later made the Houston area their home.

“By leaving this legacy for future generations, this slope of destroyed communities will be a constant reminder of the enormity of the deep, irreplaceable loss and an enduring educational tool explaining that unbridled human hate can lead to murder and destruction of other human beings,” Mincberg said.

The memorial reminds visitors of the history, culture, activities of Jewish life in these towns, providing a unique picture of what was lost, the true extent of the tragedy perpetrated on the world by the Nazis. Synagogues, schools, orchestras, theaters, newspapers, businesses – everything that made the lives of the Jews vibrant and fulfilling – were destroyed.

According to project co-chair Ellen Trachtenberg, these stones serve as a reminder not only of the 6 million Jews who were murdered, but also the beautiful Jewish communities that the victims had created, that had thrived for hundreds of years. They personalize the tragedy by showing how the Jews were murdered, town by town by town by town..

The “Destroyed Communities” project began even before the opening of the Museum in March 1996. Over the years, the names of more than 35 communities that once were home to Houston area-survivors but where all traces of Jewish culture were obliterated have been engraved on large stones on the exterior slope of the Museum’s main building at 5401 Caroline St. More than 300 were added to finish the project in October 2012.

The Museum had sought to complete the project for years, but the etched concrete stones are expensive to construct, engrave and install.

That’s when volunteer and son of Holocaust survivors Hyman Penn and his family stepped in to honor his own parents and grandmother, offering to finish the project in memory of Houston-area survivors Linda and Morris I. Penn and grandmother Riva Kremer. The gift was given by Lynn Gordon and Hyman Penn; Pam and Robert Penn, Jordan and Jamie; and Cynthia and Barry Weinberger, Melanie and Lauren.

Kremer was born Aug. 12, 1906, and spent much of her early life in Grodno, Poland, where her husband ran a dry cleaning business. When the Nazis overran Grodno in the summer of 1941, Kremer – then 36 – was sent to Treblinka, one of the most notorious Nazi death camps. Her husband and son were immediately sent to the gas chambers, but Kremer and her daughter, Linda, were pulled aside and survived.

Kremer and her daughter were sent as slave laborers to the camp of Majdanek, where they sorted clothing and other belongings stripped from Jewish victims. After Majdanek, they endured horrific conditions at camps at Trawniki, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz. After escaping near death in camps throughout Poland and Germany, Kremer and her daughter were sent to Theresienstadt, a ghetto and transit camp in Czechoslovakia. Allied troops liberated them on May 8, 1945.

Morris Penn was born in Lithuania, where the Jewish population built a vibrant cultural and religious life before World War II. When Germany overran Lithuania in the summer of 1941, he and his family were captured but later fled into hiding. His mother and sister were betrayed and murdered in 1942. He and his brother survived in hiding and eventually made it to Houston in 1949. In December 1951, Morris married Linda Kremer, whom he had met in displaced persons camp in Austria.

For more information, call 713-942-8000 or e-mail For more information, call 713-942-8000 or e-mail

The Destroyed Communities Memorial was made possible by our generous underwriters:
In memory of Linda and Morris I. Penn and Riva Kremer by their children, grandchildren
and great-grandchildren.
Charlotte and Peter Berkowitz
Ann and Morris Blum
Family of Morris Cweigenberg
Family of Renée Danziger
Elene and Leon Davis Family
Ida and Leon Davis
Tony Deutsch / Mark Deutsch / Robert Deutsch
Ricki S. Gerger
Family of Dr. John W. Haenosh
Eleonora Hassid
Reuven Hollo
Houston Council of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
   and Descendants
John P. McGovern Foundation
Jeff Karfunkle
Helaine and Sanford Lubetkin
Ruth Materson
Isabel Mermelstein
Josef and Edith Mincberg
Linda and Morris Penn
Hannah Pike
Linda and Mark Quick
Ann and David Ronn Family
Rudy Foundation
A. I. and Manet Schepps
Families of Sighet
Charis and David Smith
Barbara and Richard Strax
Family of Renee Taylor
Naomi Warren
A. I. and Manet Schepps
Valorie and Richard Steinhart
Friends of Vilno
Rita and Bernard Wise / Sharon
   and Mark Wise
Felix Zandman

The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston
The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston
The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston
The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston
The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston
The Destroyed Communities Memorial at Holocaust Museum Houston
Address and Directions
Holocaust Museum Houston is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums.

Hours and Admission
Museum Hours:

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Museum Admission:

$12 for adults
$8 for active-duty military and AARP members
Free for children, students and college-level students with valid ID
Free admission on Sundays

Docent-led tours can be scheduled for schools and groups of 10 or more. Tours are available in Spanish, English and French. To arrange a docent-led tour, please call Visitor Services at 713-942-8000, ext. 302 or submit the form below.

Guided tours are available for all visitors on Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

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