October 15, 2019

Hindenburg sign comes down at Crescenta Valley Park

The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation has removed a sign from Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, a Los Angeles county park near Glendale, that read “Welcome to Hindenburg Park.” 

The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, among others, had demanded the sign be taken down, arguing the sign paid tribute to the former German President Paul von Hindenburg, who appointed Adolf Hitler to be chancellor of Germany and whose sudden death in 1934 resulted in Hitler consolidating power and declaring himself Fuhrer.

The nonprofit German-American cultural organization Tricentennial Foundation paid $2,500 for the creation of the Hindenburg sign, which was installed in February with the cooperation of Los Angeles County. The group had intended it to honor a section of the park formerly owned by the German American League, which was known as Hindenburg Park in the 1930s. 

The German American League sold Hindenburg Park to Los Angeles County in 1957, at which time it was folded into the Crescenta Valley Communtiy Regional Park and renamed.

The removal on May 4 followed a vote two days earlier by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission at which nine of the 15 members voted to approve a motion calling for the sign’s removal, according to the Los Angeles Times. One member abstained. The meeting was held at the Los Angeles County Community Senior Services headquarters.

The commission also approved the creation of a new sign to honor the German-American heritage of Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park and the creation of an ad hoc committee, which has 30 days to develop a sign that will not include the name Hindenburg but that acknowledges both the positive and negative elements of the history of the park, which was a site of both German-American cultural events such as Oktoberfest and also for rallies by the German American Bund, an American Nazi organization, in the 1930s and ’40s. 

The commission’s vote was a victory for critics of the 6-foot-high wooden sign, which stood at the entrance of Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, at Dunsmore and Honolulu avenues. 

“The sign is gone and that resolves what a lot of people thought was an offensive thing, and that’s good,” Eagle Rock resident Mona Field, who is Jewish, said in a May 9 phone interview.

Field was among those in attendance at last week’s vote. She also attended a meeting in April that drew more than 100 attendees and featured both opponents and supporters of the sign expressing their sentiments about it. 

Other attendees at the April meeting included La Canada non-Jewish resident Nalini Lasiewicz, a Dutch native who expressed in a phone interview this week that she was disappointed with the commission’s vote. 

“I think there was a misplaced grievance in response to this particular sign,” she said. “And I think there is value in exploring the historical facts but that it should be done with sensitivity to all parties involved.”