Ceremony at Wittenbergplatz in Berlin
A large-scale B in remembrance of the courage of prisoners in Auschwitz
As of today, 12 June 2013, a large-scale B stands in the heart of Berlin in remembrance of the courage and the will to survive of prisoners in Auschwitz concentration camp. The International Auschwitz Committee presented the sculpture ‘to B remembered’ at Wittenbergplatz in Berlin, directly opposite the famous KaDeWe. The sculpture depicts an inverted letter B. It is the B contained in the cynical inscription ARBEIT MACHT FREI (work makes you free) which the SS ordered the prisoners to make and install above the main gate of Auschwitz concentration camp. The wrought-iron sign was a lie, as every prisoner knew and endured each and every day on their own bodies. By inverting the B in the word ARBEIT they were able to demonstrate their will to resist the murderous system of annihilation that the Nazis established in Auschwitz, without automatically attracting the attention of the SS. It was a symbol of self-esteem and self-assertion in an environment where every conceivable human right was null and void.
The artistic concept on which the sculpture came from Michèle Déodat of France, who has supported the work of the International Auschwitz Committee for many years. Trainees from Volkswagen in Hanover manufactured the sculpture which weighs 5.2 tonnes. For twenty years trainees with Volkswagen Coaching and Polish vocational college students have been involved together in regular projects to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial, where they have joined in the conversations with survivors from the camp.
During the ceremony at Wittenbergplatz speakers included the President of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel, CDU Secretary General Hermann Gröhe, the Auschwitz survivor Marian Turski from Warsaw, Michèle Déodat, Elke Eller from the managing board of Volkswagen in Hanover and Igor Proskuryakov, a trainee with VW in Hanover.