Dr. Louis Slotin recognized for 1946 sacrifice
Hero receives honor with naming of park
LAWRENCE LAVITT feels a sense of achievement now that Dr. Louis Slotin Park on Luxton Avenue is a reality.
Slotin was a native north-end Winnipegger who played a key scientific role in the development of the first atomic bombs during the Second World War.
He willingly laid down his life to save seven other men during an atomic experiment that went terribly wrong at the Los Alamos, N.M., nuclear weapons research facility in 1946.
Slotin died nine days after the accident; the other seven men survived. His body was brought back to Winnipeg for the funeral, which was attended by some 3,000 people, and subsequent burial.
Slotin's story of heroism has been told in various forms over the years, including in a 1955 novel and in a scene in a 1989 Hollywood movie.
But Slotin has never been permanently memorialized here until Lavitt's campaign. In September, Lavitt approached the Lord Selkirk-West Kildonan Community Committee with a written request to name the small "end of Luxton Street" neighborhood park, which itself resulted from Lavitt's lobbying, after Slotin. The committee, which includes three city councillors, unanimously approved Lavitt's request on Oct. 12.
"It gives me a nice sense of accomplishment. It was something I felt the neighborhood needed, and it's time that the city (officially) recognize Slotin," Lavitt said.
Lavitt is a north end resident and Revenue Canada employee who first came across Slotin's name and deeds in a book entitled The Hebrew Impact On Western Civilization.
"Dr. Slotin and his family had resided at 125 Scotia Street, four lots north of the park. So, that really helped. And the neighbors in the area thought it was a good idea to name the park after him."
As well, the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada has agreed to act as a sponsor in the process of having a dedication sign erected in the newly named park. Lavitt is accepting contributions towards construction of the marker which he hopes will be in place sometime next year.
Moreover, Lavitt has gained support for his efforts from Slotin's local descendants.
"I can tell you both personally and on behalf of our family, we are gratified that the city has taken steps to honor a genuine hero," says Israel Ludwig, a Winnipeg lawyer and Slotin's nephew.