A Southland Jewish organization is seeking the removal of a sign at Crescenta Valley Park that pays tribute to a German World War I hero, claiming the site has connections to Nazi atrocities.
The sign reads "willkommen zum Hindenburg Park," meaning "welcome to Hindenburg Park." It commemorates a section of the park named for Paul Von Hindenburg, who was Germany's president from the late 1920s to early 1930s.
In the '20s, the grounds were acquired by the German American League and served as a gathering place for local Germans. The park also was the site of the first Oktoberfest celebration in Southern California.
The sign, paid for by the Tricentennial Foundation, a German heritage organization, was erected last month.
Its purpose, said foundation chairman Hans Eberhard, is to "preserve the historic integrity of the site."
"This is a welcome to Hindenburg Park," he said. "There's nothing wrong with that."
The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys took issue with the sign.
Jason Moss, the Jewish federation's executive director, is demanding the county take it down.
The sign not only leads people to believe Crescenta Valley Park is called Hindenburg Park, the federation argues, but it jogs memories of when the park was the site of Nazi rallies.
In 1933, the year before his death, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany. The move paved the way for Hitler's rise to power and eventually the Holocaust and the deaths of more than 6 million Jews, Moss said.
"Those issues are brought up when you see the word 'Hindenburg,'" he said in a phone interview. "There's really no way to separate it."
Eberhard said that Hindenburg was elderly and senile when he appointed Hitler, and some historians have argued that he was pressured to do it. Those who hoisted flags bearing swastikas during World War II at Crescenta Valley Park were doing so because it was the German flag at the time, not because they were Nazis, Eberhard said.
Los Angeles County officials will hold a meeting April 7 to discuss whether to take down the sign.
Mikailian writes for Times Community News.