IAC :: Remember the past, be responsible for the future

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To B remembered

To B remembered – The sculpture of the International Auschwitz Committee

In 2010, the International Auschwitz Committee first began awarding the sculpture "To B remembered" to personalities who act in the spirit of the Auschwitz survivors’ key concept: Never again! In 2013 trainees with Volkswagen created a public memorial in the shape of the two-metre-high statue "To B remembered".

The story of the “B” in a YouTube video – click here to watch.

The statue’s first venue was Berlin’s Wittenbergplatz (read more). Then, on 30 January 2014 the great "B" was installed in front of the European Parliament in Brussels. You will find more information about the inauguration in Brussels here.

On 10 September 2015 the "B" returned to Wittenbergplatz in Berlin. The survivors dedicated the statue’s renewed installation in Berlin to the fleeing refugees and the people who reached out open-heartedly to them. Roman Kent, Auschwitz survivor and President of the IAC in New York said: "Our thanks go out to them. They are often far ahead of their governments." You will find more in the press release from 10 September here.

On 12 June 2017 the statue was unveiled in Kassel, the city of the documenta exhibition. You can read more about this ceremony here.

The five-ton statue “to B remembered” was unveiled at Berlin’s Wittenbergplatz on 12 June 2013. (© Boris Buchholz)
The five-ton statue “to B remembered” was unveiled at Berlin’s Wittenbergplatz on 12 June 2013. (© Boris Buchholz)  
 
The IAC statue and the sign above the main entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp I (© Boris Buchholz)
The IAC statue and the sign above the main entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp I (© Boris Buchholz) 

A sign of courage and the will to live

A cynical lie: the inscription above the main gate of Auschwitz I concentration camp: “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” (work makes you free).

When the SS ordered them to make this sign, the prisoners placed their hidden message in the word “ARBEIT”: they turned the letter “B” upside down. They were enraged by the endless fear, the everyday humiliations, the beatings, the hatred and the murder that they were forced to witness. They created a mark of their courage, their will to overcome the fear, to survive and later to tell the world about what happened in Auschwitz.

Today, and into the future, the inverted “B” will always symbolise the message from the prisoners to coming generations: “Remember: when injustices take place, when people are discriminated against and persecuted – never remain indifferent. Indifference kills.”

Side by side, groups of young trainees from Volkswagen AG and Polish colleagues have been taking up this message from the survivors for many years. They help to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial; they meet survivors, and they actively support the International Auschwitz Committee.

Based on an idea by Michele Deodat from France, Volkswagen trainees from Hanover are now telling the story of the inverted “B” in a new form.
Together with colleagues in the factory, they spent many months creating this more than two-metre-tall sculpture: as a message to themselves, as a message to us all, as a message to the world, as a message to you.

 

The sculpture – “Gift of Remembrance” for outstanding personalities

On the 65th anniversary of liberation: To B remembered

The IAC sculpture in its smaller form has been awarded to personalities including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The IAC sculpture in its smaller form has been awarded to personalities including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  

News that travelled the world at the end of 2009: the theft of the inscription mounted above the entrance gate to Auschwitz Main Camp “Arbeit macht frei” (Work Sets You Free). It is now suspected that the theft was carried out on behalf of a right-wing extremist collector of Nazi memorabilia in Sweden who ‘placed the order’ for ‘the goods’ from Poland via contacts in the Swedish Nazi scene.

The inscription was a cynical lie, as all the prisoners knew and physically experienced day in, day out. But what most of them didn’t realize was that the sign contained a subversive message: the survivor Tadeusz Szymanski told of a conversation he had some years after the liberation with another survivor who had been forced to work in locksmith’s workshop at the camp. As he stood with Mr Szymanski beneath the gate, he told him that when the SS ordered him and his camp comrades to weld the sign together, they had deliberately placed the ‘B’ in the word ‘Arbeit’ upside down.  It was a demonstration of self-esteem and self-assertion in an environment where all vestiges of human rights had been eradicated.

In order to remember the significance of the place  Auschwitz, to remember the victims and the causes, but also to honour the ability to remember, a gift that only humans possess, the International Auschwitz Committee founded the “Gift of Remembrance” in 2010, 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. It is shaped in the form of the inverted ‘B’ in the word “Arbeit” above the entrance gate to Auschwitz concentration camp: to B remembered.

The idea for the artistic design of the sculpture came from Michèle Déodat of France who has been involved with the work of the International Auschwitz Committee for many years. A first draft for the sculpture was created by the Berlin artist Lutz Brandt. Trainees from Volkswagen AG in Hanover manufacture the sculptures. For twenty years now, groups of trainees from Volkswagen Coaching and Polish school students have been working together to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial, and where they have also been talking together with survivors of the concentration camp.