Kolmar Park in Old Irving closer to being rededicated in honor of poet and Holocaust victim Gertrud Kolmar as park district approves public notice period; park currently named after the street
by BRIAN NADIG
The proposed rededication of Kolmar Park in Old Irving Park in honor of poet Gertrud Kolmar is one step closer to becoming realty after the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners at its Jan. 26 meeting unanimously approved a 45-day public notice period on the proposal.
Currently the one-acre park, located at 4143 N. Kolmar Ave., is named after the street, which itself was named after a European town that no longer exists. The park district will make a final recommendation based on the input it receives during the 45-day notice.
Many residents have signed a petition in favor of the proposal, and the Old Irving Park Association and the Polish Museum of America area among the organizations endorsing the rededication.
“Gertrud Kolmar was the greatest female German Jewish poet of her era,” resident Daniel Egel-Weiss testified at the meeting.
Kolmar, whose father grew up in a Polish village and mother was from Germany, wrote more than 450 poems and several plays and short stories before she was killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943. Some of her writings were about the struggles of living in Nazi Germany. She was born in 1894.
The rededication would honor Holocaust victims and shine a light on “the evil of hate,” Egel-Weiss told the board. He added that park supporters plan to work with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and other groups to educate the community about the importance of “honoring Holocaust victims (and) stamping out hate.”
Resident Dan Pogorzelski told the board that Kolmar was “a literary giant” and that “her works continue to inspire.” He added that public spaces such as parks area intended to “build community” and that the rededication would help serve that purpose.
The board’s vote took place one day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is Jan. 27, Pogorzelski noted after the meeting.
Residents submitted their rededication request to the park district in October of 2020.