THE CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT HAS RECEIVED A REQUEST TO RENAME KOLMAR PARK LOCATED AT 4143 NORTH KOLMAR AVE, CHICAGO IL 60641, IN THE IRVING PARK COMMUNITY, IN THE 45TH WARD, AS GERTRUD KOLMAR PARK.
THIS NOTICE INITIATES A PERIOD OF 45 DAYS TO ENCOURAGE INPUT FROM THE COMMUNITY. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE NOTICE PERIOD, THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OR DESIGNEE MAY RECOMMEND TO THE BOARD THAT IT APPROVE THAT THE PARK NAME BE CHANGED BASED ON COMMUNITY INPUT PROVIDED FROM THE 45-DAY NOTICE PERIOD. A PROPOSED NAMING OF A PARK OR A PARK FEATURE SHALL BE EFFECTIVE ONLY UPON A MAJORITY VOTE OF THE BOARD.
TO SUBMIT COMMENTS, PLEASE CALL (312) 742-4762 OR WRITE TO THE CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT, DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE & COMMUNITY AFFAIRS, 541 N. FAIRBANKS, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60611. YOU MAY ALSO EMAIL US AT LCA@CHICAGOPARKDISTRICT.COM OR UPLOAD YOUR COMMENTS VIA THE FORM BELOW.
Chapter VII, Section E of the Code of the Chicago Park District, (the Naming Ordinance), which governs the naming and renaming of parks and park features, states that if a proposed name honors a person, the (i) person shall have been deceased for a least one (1) year prior to consideration; and (ii) the person shall have demonstrated a continued commitment and made an extraordinary contribution to civic betterment, locally, nationally or internationally.
Gertrud Kolmar was born in Berlin in 1894. Born Gertrud Kathe Chodziesner, she was the eldest of four children in a Jewish family of Polish descent. Gertrud began writing poetry at a young age, though she resisted publishing her work out of a sense that it wasn’t adequate. In fact, it was her father who submitted her poems to a publishing house, resulting in the publication of her first volume of poetry in 1917. It was published under the name Gertrud Kolmar-taking the German name of the town in Poland, Chodziez, where her family had roots.
Throughout the following years, Gertrud continued to write poetry while she worked as a teacher and studied several languages. In the late 1920s, her poems were often published in various literary journals and anthologies. It wasn’t until 1936 that Gertrud participated in a reading of “women’s prose” that she began to gain recognition for her works in literary circles, though she remained unknown to the general public.
Gertrud had left teaching in 1928 to care for her sick mother, and she remained at home, assisting and later caring for her father after her mother’s death. She continued to write, and published some more poetry-a selection of poems in a literary journal in 1936, and a volume of poetry in 1938. However, in the late 1930s, Jewish life was increasingly constrained under Nazi control. Her siblings fled Germany, but she passed an opportunity to flee to England in order to continue caring for their father. Despite the harsh conditions, Gertrud continued to write, particularly poetry, and used her writing as a means to express both her sadness and powerlessness toward her oppression, but also her hope for humanity.
She also continued to correspond with numerous family members and friends, and it is said that her letters displayed an inner strength and reserve in the face of intensifying oppression. After the November 1938 pogrom known as Kristallnacht, she sent much of her writings to her sister and brother-in-law in Switzerland, and to a cousin, for safekeeping.
In 1941, she was forced to work in a German armaments factory, and in 1943, she was sent to Auschwitz where she died. After the war, her brother-in-law spearheaded the effort to collect and publish her writings. Posthumous publications of her writings began in 1947, and continued through subsequent decades, and her work continues to draw acclaim. Her surviving work includes four hundred and fifty poems, three plays, and two short stories (in manuscript form). Today, Gertrude Kolmar is recognized as one of the most important women poets in German literature.
The comment period for this renaming has ended.