‘A monument against forgetting’
This description is applied to film director Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 work Shoah.
The Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection, comprising 185 hours of interview outtakes and 35 hours of location filming is owned by two of the world’s most important Holocaust memorials, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, Israel.
Lanzmann’s film may be described as monumental. But perhaps there as many Holocaust monuments as memories.
These monuments are physical or existing beyond time and space in words, images, music, carried across generations.
They can be international and national as the above institutions in Washington and Jerusalem, as well as more recently in Berlin and Vienna or proposed in London.
The form of these physical spaces varies, the intent and impact of their design debated. A third generation member of my family described to me her feeling of overwhelm inside the ‘Voids’ of the Libeskind installation in central Berlin. Recalling the memory of visiting the memorial caused her distress.
In Judenplatz Vienna British sculptor Rachel Whiteread describes her memorial, a silent library, as designed to challenge and provoke thought.
Monuments and memorials transcend international, national and local, as those at sites of history itself, for example Mauthausen. (Mauthausen-memorial.org)
The monuments may be huge, state-centric or of a different scale, personally initiated. Artist Gunter Demnig started the Stolpersteine project in 1992 aiming to commemorate individuals at exactly their last free place of residency (‘Hier wohnte..’) before being attacked by Nazis.
The hand engraved stones are deliberately raised, impacting the consciousness of all those who pass by.
What is your own experience of physical Holocaust monuments and memorials? Have you completed a Stolpersteine journey or plan to do so? Will Holocaust memorialization change as the First Generation passes? Where should such monuments be located, how should the inscription read. Or even, to quote Rilke’s dictum, ‘erect no monuments.’
Go to the members area of our web site (www.secondgeneration.org.uk) to contribute to this theme linked to the Second Generation Network online discussion 8 September 2020 – Commemoration: to lay Stolpersteine or not to lay Stolperstein? That is the question…
Second Generation Voices
Please Register here if you wish to comment on this article.