The "B" in Brussels
30th January, 2014: The Great "B" – the statue of remembrance is now standing in Brussels
From last June until the end of January 2014, the Great B sculpture of remembrance stood at Wittenbergplatz in Berlin, in the centre of the western part of the city. The inverted B, cited from the cynical inscription Arbeit macht frei (work makes you free) set above the entrance to Auschwitz main camp, commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. Volkswagen trainees produced the sculpture based on an idea by Michèle Deodat of France. The Great B has since travelled and is now standing in front of the European Parliament in Brussels.
On 27 January 2014, young people presented a performance in front of the statue in Berlin to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 69th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. They dedicated the poem “While reading the paper” (Beim Lesen der Zeitung) to the memory of the victims. It was written by the journalist and poet Volker von Törne (1934 – 1980): “I see in the paper that the murderers / knew nothing of murders and crimes. / (In those days my sister kept sewing / yellow stars on her dolls all the time.)”
This was the last event to take place at the Great B in Berlin before the five-and-a-half-ton statue was transported to Brussels. It then stood in the Belgian capital in front of the European Parliament on the Place du Luxembourg. It has been placed on the path of visitors to the European Parliament, at the edge of a square named after the first woman president of the parliament and Auschwitz survivor, Simone Veil.
On 30 January, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz unveiled the statue in a formal ceremony, together with Henri Goldberg from the Belgian Fondation Auschwitz and Volkswagen trainees. The Great B is now passing on the survivors’ message to Brussels and to Europe. The ceremony was attended by the Polish and the German Ambassadors as well as members of the European Parliament. Guests also included: Andre Flahaut, the President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, and Elke Eller, the representative of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.
At the end of the ceremony Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the IAC, awarded Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, with the small statue, the Gift of Remembrance. The Volkswagen trainee, Laura Lange, spoke about the impressions she and her colleagues had gained during their working stay at the Auschwitz Memorial. Volkswagen AG has been carrying out these regular projects together with the IAC for very many years.
Martin Schulz was visibly moved by the award. He said: “This award means a great deal to me. None of us should ever forget that evil never rests. And for this reason, we must carry on actively intervening against right-wing extremism. For as long as we remember the victims and their names – the Nazis and the Neo-Nazis will have lost. Every single one of us is called upon to be actively involved. Looking away is no alternative.”