UK me­mo­rial de­signs go on dis­play

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

HOLO­CAUST DE­NIAL could rise in the next two decades, a lead­ing cam­paigner has warned.

Sir Peter Bazal­gette, chair of the UK Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion, said: “I have the im­pres­sion that Holo­caust de­nial may well grow in the next 20 years rather than di­min­ish.”

Sir Peter is­sued the warn­ing on Tues­day, as de­signs for the new na­tional Holo­caust Me­mo­rial and Learn­ing Cen­tre went on dis­play at the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum.

The dan­ger posed by Holo­caust de­niers “un­der­lines the im­por­tance of this and other ex­er­cises to do with learn­ing the lessons of the Holo­caust,” he ar­gued.

But he added that the key to fight­ing back lay in young peo­ple who had met sur­vivors and heard their sto­ries first-hand. “They will be wit­nesses to the ve­rac­ity of the in­ter­views in our sur­vivor tes­ti­monies that alone un­der­line the im­por­tance of what we are do­ing,” Sir Peter said.

Ten de­signs for the me­mo­rial, which will stand next to the Houses of Par­lia­ment in Vic­to­ria Tower Gar­dens in cen­tral Lon­don, have been short­listed.

The project, launched by Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May last Septem­ber, at­tracted in­ter­est from 92 teams from 26 coun­tries.

The short­listed con­tenders come from Bri­tain, Europe, the United States and Canada and in­clude con­tri­bu­tions from the sculp­tor Anish Kapoor, Turner Prize-win­ning artist Rachel Whiteread and ac­claimed Bri­tish ar­chi­tect Nor­man Foster.

Sir Peter said: “The sto­ries of Holo­caust sur­vivors are in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful. They wit­nessed a break­down in so­ci­ety, in its ethics and in our du­ties to one an­other.

“We can and must learn from their ex­pe­ri­ences to help us fight ha­tred in so­ci­ety to­day.

“Th­ese per­sonal sto­ries will have a per­ma­nent home in the new Learn­ing Cen­tre. I hope that as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble can help us de­sign it by giv­ing their feed­back.”

Peter Lan­tos, who was an in­mate in Ber­gen-Belsen con­cen­tra­tion camp as a young boy and whose tes­ti­mony has been recorded as part of the na­tional

(right) me­mo­rial project, was one of three sur­vivors who at­tended the open­ing of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Mr Lan­tos told the JC: “Through­out my life I have seen the best and worst of hu­man na­ture. It would be a com­fort to think that we have learned ev­ery­thing from the past but it would be naïve.

“Sadly, the need to chal­lenge ha­tred is con­stant. I hope that the new cen­tre helps us to do that.”

Joan Sal­ter was sep­a­rated from her fam­ily dur­ing the Se­cond World War and not re­united with them un­til 1947 when she dis­cov­ered her par­ents had man­aged to sur­vive the war and were liv­ing in the UK.

She said: “We live in dan­ger­ous times and trag­i­cally, a re­minder of how frag­ile civil­i­sa­tion is, is more cru­cial now than ever. This is why the new me­mo­rial and learn­ing cen­tre are es­sen­tial.”

Tris­tram Hunt, di­rec­tor of the V&A, wel­comed the sur­vivors, in­clud­ing Mala Tribich.

Ms Tribich, born in Poland in 1930, is the sis­ter of Olympic weight-lifter Ben Helf­gott — the only mem­bers of their im­me­di­ate fam­ily to sur­vive the Holo­caust. She said she found it re­ally dif­fi­cult to de­cide which of the de­signs was most ap­pro­pri­ate. “There is some­thing in each one that I think is rel­e­vant. I think I am spoilt for choice.”

But Joan Sal­ter, who at the age of three was res­cued by the United States Com­mit­tee for the Care of European Chil­dren and went to Amer­ica in 1943, said she favoured the sim­pler ver­sions among the shortlist.

“The Holo­caust is dra­matic enough. I think all the de­signs are great but I don’t need a huge me­mo­rial. For me, the ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre is the most im­por­tant thing and I be­lieve less is more when it comes to the de­sign.

“I think it is im­por­tant that the de­sign fits in with the sur­round­ings, too. One of the most pow­er­ful memo­ri­als I have ever seen was the sea of red pop­pies at the Tower of Lon­don [to mark the cen­te­nary of the out­break of the First World War]. You saw each one and thought it was an in­di­vid­ual.”

Ms Sal­ter said she was con­cerned that some of the more com­pli­cated de­signs would en­cour­age peo­ple to triv­i­alise them as photo op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“You’ve seen what hap­pens at the Ber­lin me­mo­rial — peo­ple just go to take self­ies and that is not the point.”

Karen Pol­lock, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust, said the new me­mo­rial would stand for gen­er­a­tions as a sym­bol of Bri­tain’s com­mit­ment to re­mem­ber­ing the Holo­caust.

She said: “In a frag­ile world, it is more im­por­tant than ever that we ed­u­cate the next gen­er­a­tion about the dan­gers of ha­tred .

“The learn­ing cen­tre will play a vi­tal role in en­sur­ing this mes­sage reaches far and wide.”

The de­signs will be dis­played at the V&A un­til Au­gust 22.


Three of the de­signs on show at the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum

Sur­vivors Joan Sal­ter, Peter Lan­tos and Mala Tribich at the V&A

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