Holocaust memorial essay

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Should such memorials be literal or abstract? Should they honor the dead or disturb the very possibility of honor in atrocity? Should they be monumental, or instead disavow the monumental image, itself so associated with Nazism?


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Preserve memories or challenge as pretense the notion that memories ever exist outside the process of constructing them? Some observers wonder if memorials might have unintended consequences, undermining the memories that they are meant to preserve. Rather than restore it, Hoheisel created an underground fountain that is the mirror image of the one the Nazis destroyed. Hoheisel explained:.

I have designed the new fountain as a mirror image of the old one, sunk beneath the old place in order to rescue the history of this place as a wound and as an open question, to penetrate the consciousness of the Kassel citizens so that such things never happen again.

Get In Touch

The sunken fountain is not the memorial at all. It is only history turned into a pedestal, an invitation to passersby who stand upon it to search for the memorial in their own heads. For only there is the memorial to be found. See full-sized image for analysis. Students both respond to and design Holocaust memorials as they consider the impact that memorials and monuments have on the way we think about history. Students learn about several Holocaust memorials around the world in preparation to design their own memorial.

Learn about the concept of transitional justice and reflect on ways that Germany as a nation has faced its past and accepted responsibility for the Holocaust. Add or Edit Playlist.

It Can Happen Here

Previous Reading. Next Reading. Holocaust Memorials and Monuments. As you explore the images in the visual essay, consider what message each memorial conveys. Who created and authorized the memorial? Who is the audience for this message? How is the message conveyed? Whose story is the memorial telling? What might the memorial be leaving out? What are some key differences among the memorials pictured in the gallery above?

What do they have in common? Which one speaks to you most strongly? Memorials have many different kinds of goals, including telling an accurate story of the past, expressing nationalist ideas, honoring life, confronting evil, and encouraging reconciliation. The panel had to be representative of all people who had suffered at Hitler's hands during the war, she said; if the representation were not broad-based, the recommendations would not win Congressional backing. But Wiesel - the writer and survivor of Auschwitz - insisted that the groups be composed mainly of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

Slowly he accepted the membership of a few ''righteous gentiles'' - those who had helped save Jews. Wiesel ultimately accepted a rather diverse group of Americans. His ''Report to the President'' on the Holocaust commission's deliberations, issued in September , for the first time articulated publicly the political compromise.

In this report, Wiesel also stated: ''While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims. Through this artful formulation, the museum would be able to focus on the Jewish aspect of the tragedy, without denying a place in the suffering to non-Jews. Many of the conflicts over universality sprang from the commission's initial determination that the most appropriate memorial for those who had died in the Holocaust was a ''living'' museum.

According to commission members, all but one member of the panel favored the construction of a museum rather than a monument or other type of memorial. Wiesel and others felt strongly that whatever was built had to help educate people, young Americans in particular. Lucy S. Dawidowicz, a leading Continued on Page 42 historian of the Holocaust, disagreed. She favored building a memorial, one of ''compelling austerity,'' preferably in New York, ''the center of the Jewish population in the United States and the cultural crossroads of the modern world,'' she wrote in an early memorandum to the commission.

At a meeting in , she expressed her fear that a grandiose museum might give the appearance of ''celebrating rather than commemorating the Holocaust. From the beginning, Carter insisted that no money for construction be appropriated from Federal funds. Moreover, Eizenstat says, ''Carter believed that because the project was not a war memorial, but of particular interest to the Jewish community, Jews should be able to raise money for it.

Jews on the commission agreed. As it turned out, even fund-raising turned into a politically explosive issue. Set Momjian, an American businessman of Armenian descent appointed to the council in May , insisted that the Turkish mass deportation of the Armenians between and , which had resulted in 1. But when the Turkish Ambassador to the United States learned of this, he visited Stuart Eizenstat at the White House for what the Presidential aide called the most blunt and difficult meeting he had ever had.

The Ambassador reminded him that Turkey had been hospitable to Jews over the centuries. In modern times, it has been the home of a large and thriving Jewish population, and it is one of the few states with a Muslim majority that has maintained diplomatic relations with Israel. Including the Armenians in the museum, Eizenstat remembers the Ambassador saying, would not only affect relations between Turkey and Israel; it would also mean that ''Turkey could no longer guarantee the safety of Jews in Turkey. Israel, concerned about preserving its relations with Turkey, quietly lobbied several council members to placate the Turks by leaving the Armenians out.

In the end, the council ignored Turkey's threats; the Armenians would have a place in the museum. Discord also emerged over the council's relationship with West Germany. From the beginning, the project troubled Helmut Kohl, then the leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. In , Kohl expressed his concerns to his key advisers, including Peter Petersen, a Christian Democrat and member of West Germany's parliament, the Bundestag. Was this the way in which the United States was going to treat its most valued European ally?

A friend in Congress arranged a meeting in New York between Petersen and Wiesel in the winter of to discuss West Germany's concerns. By that time, Kohl had become Chancellor. Petersen admits he had been bitterly disappointed when Hitler lost the war, and that he had initially dismissed the stories about the concentration camps as lies, Allied propaganda. But in , his father brought a Jewish survivor home to talk to ''his crazy son who still believed in Hitler,'' Petersen says. After hearing the stories about Bergen-Belsen, Petersen says his ''first instinct was one of shame, to flee Germany.

He told me: 'You ran after the Nazi flag like everybody else. Having done that, you do not have the right to leave now that your country needs you. You will stay here and work to make sure that what happened never occurs again. Wiesel listened as Petersen made his appeal. More than half of Germans alive today were not even born when the war ended. The Federal Republic had worked long and hard to become an ardent supporter of democracy at home and abroad.

Could the new museum not take account of West Germany's extraordinary evolution? Could it not include West Germany's help in building a strong Israel, in making more than billion Deutsche marks in reparations? Could it not include some kind words about the new Germany?

At the end of the lengthy meeting, Wiesel and Petersen agreed to form a group of six Germans and six Americans to discuss what had been learned since the war and some of the other issues raised that afternoon. The group met first in early Through these visits, he and Wiesel became friends, Petersen says. Wiesel invited him and other German members of the group to attend some of the Holocaust council meetings in Washington so that they could better appreciate the memorial being planned. When he finally won the prize, I attended the banquet in Oslo, the only German there.

These contacts between the Germans and the Holocaust council ended abruptly after Wiesel resigned as chairman in December After Harvey Bud Meyerhoff took over, ''he reorganized our little group out of existence,'' Petersen says.

He and the others have always refused to do so. In fact, most council members had not known of Wiesel's invitation to Petersen to attend council meetings.

At the Holocaust Museum

Some were appalled when they were told, particularly Holocaust survivors. Council members confirmed that after Wiesel's departure, it became unofficial policy not to meet with German officials to discuss the museum's thrust or contents. Lowenberg, a survivor and vice chairman of the council, bluntly told a friend. What made him resign, he has said, was his growing concern that the project was becoming too politicized, too ''homogenized,'' and that these trends would ultimately degrade the quality of the tribute he had hoped to pay to Holocaust victims.

Even Wiesel's admirers acknowledge, however, that his strengths were spiritual, not practical.

Holocaust essay contest underway | The Spokesman-Review

He came to be seen by many on the council as a poor choice for translating the themes of remembrance and commemoration into concrete and mortar. He trusted only a handful of survivors and was reluctant to delegate authority, they said. Since the council met infrequently, major decisions piled up without resolution. Wiesel felt himself miscast.

He told one friend privately that he felt he lacked the pragmatism and management skills needed to transform his vision into reality. In the fall of , Wiesel - aware that his council needed more funds - turned for help to the developers on the panel: Albert Sonny Abramson and, later, Meyerhoff. Within weeks of joining the museum's development committee, Abramson got the project moving quickly and on a much grander scale. Wiesel had favored opening a relatively small museum in two red-brick structures near the Mall, a building known as the Auditor's Complex.

But the developer favored tearing it down and building a new, giant structure. In November, Abramson demanded that his development committee be given authority to act without approval of Wiesel or the council, and he threatened to resign unless he was given more autonomy. He got it. But relations between Wiesel and the developer deteriorated beyond repair. A few weeks later, Wiesel gave up his post.

From Kristallnacht to Tree of Life

His resignation, coming as it did less than three months after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, created even greater rancor within the council. Wiesel had fought against individual parts of the museum being named after donors. Minutes from the council meeting of June 17, , indicate that the executive committee approved two proposals that crossed that line.