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

Stauffenbergstraße 13/14
10785 Berlin
Germany

fon: ++ 49 (030) 26 39 26 81
Telefax: ++ 49 (030) 26 39 26 83

URI: http://www.auschwitz.info/

Service navigation:
 
language navigation:
 
language navigation:
 
 
 
 
Marian Turski, Auschwitz survivor and Vice President of the IAC at the inauguration of the B statue
Marian Turski, Auschwitz survivor and Vice President of the IAC at the inauguration of the B statue  
 

Inauguration of the B statue in Kassel on 12 June 2017

Small symbol of resistance and encouragement

The city of Kassel has very clear preferences: during the 100 days of the world’s largest art exhibition, the entire cityscape is transformed into an exhibition space exclusively for the ‘documenta’ and its works of art. But this year the administration is making a huge exception for the International Auschwitz Committee. On 12 June, Anne Frank’s birthday, the Sculpture of Remembrance was installed on the Treppenstrasse in Kassel. It depicts the inverted letter B from the cynical inscription above the gate to the main camp of Auschwitz “ARBEIT MACHT FREI”.

In a movingly emotional speech in front of 150 guests, city councillor Hajo Schuy said that after serious consideration the city had decided to place the statue in a central position in the inner city. He said the concerns of the survivors that are linked with the background and the message of the statue are immeasurably important.

The guests at the ceremony included the Italian Auschwitz survivor Albina Moimas, the French artist Michèle Déodat, who had the original idea for the sculpture, and the Polish Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee Marian Turski. In his opening speech he told the listeners how important this message of the secretly inverted single letter was for the prisoners in the everyday life of the camp as a small symbol of resistance and encouragement. He thanked Michèle Déodat for having spotlighted the significance of the ‘B’ once again for the Auschwitz survivors and the world in general.

Trainees during the performance
Trainees during the performance 

Trainees from Audi and Volkswagen in Kassel, Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt gave a performance together with Polish vocational students from Bielsko-Biala. The performance is dedicated to the Auschwitz survivor from Kassel, Rosa Ehrlich-Goldstein, and Anne Frank, who was born in 1929 in Frankfurt: “We remember. Against hatred. Against anti-Semitism. Against fear. And for hope!”
 
In addition to the statue of the letter ‘B’ there are numerous other works of art on show at ‘documenta 14’ that recall the horrors and lessons of the Holocaust. The smoke that the Swiss artist Daniel Knorr lets rise from a tower of the nearby Fridericianum is very disquieting and conveys his associations with the smoke over Birkenau and other extermination camps. And just a few hundred metres away from the International Auschwitz Committee’s statue, the Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama has draped the old Guard House with jute sacks as a reminder of the misery of the refugees. On show inside this building is the design for an Auschwitz memorial by the Swedish-Polish architect Oskar Hansen. A jury headed by the sculptor Henry Moore awarded the design first place in a competition run by the International Auschwitz Committee in 1959.

The distress of persecuted people and refugees is also the focus of Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe at Königsplatz in Kassel. At the top of a sixteen-metre-high obelisk, and written in various languages, is the Bible quotation: “I was a stranger and you took me in.” Finally, at the end of the Treppenstrasse on Friedrichsplatz, the Argentinian artist Marta Minujín has erected her original sized “Parthenon of Books” that reminds us of the persecution of writers in many countries and the banning of their books. The International Auschwitz Committee also contributed books towards this work.

In this way the “To B remembered” statue with its central message from the Auschwitz survivors reflects and complements the intentions of many artists whose works are on show in Kassel: “Remember: when injustices take place, when people are discriminated against and persecuted – never remain indifferent. Indifference kills.”

 
At the inauguration: City Councillor Hajo Schuy
At the inauguration: City Councillor Hajo Schuy
 
Michèle Déodat, the artist who designed the sculpture.
Michèle Déodat, the artist who designed the sculpture.