Odense, 25 March 1999
This is the first newsletter about the Pillar of Shame in Berlin. I have made a kind of an information bulletin to keep you informed on how the project is progressing. I take that you have received my first letter and the concept, if not, an error has occurred! Then just write or call for it and Ill send a description of the project immediately. I readily send you several copies, if you feel like passing it on to others. The material can also be purchased on the Internet address: http:// www.aidoh.dk.
If you have any comments, ideas, views, etc. about this project, feel free to contact us. I consider this project as a mutual manifestation, and I am open to all ideas, suggestions and considerations.
There are changes all the time in the project, so you cannot be sure that the project description you have is completely accurate. The changes are brought to you by this letter. The fundamentals in the description will, however, not be changed, only minor details will.
Sending out Concept and Letter
I and co-workers have in the past three months sent hundreds of letters, and thousands of concepts across the globe. The material exists in English, German and Danish, and has mainly been sent to former concentration camp prisoners, memorial sites, museums and organisations with close contact to the groups affected by the industrial mass extermination, during the Nazi rule, amongst those, the Jews, Romani, handicap organisations, prisoners organisations, homosexuals, political convicts, etc. etc.
This way we hope to build an international network of contacts with all who will join for this manifestation of this centurys biggest infringement.
We have received lots of positive reactions, many have helped by passing on material, others have sent useful addresses. Many organisations have put the idea of a different memorial on the agenda of their annual meeting.
This astonishing backup means that the project "das Schandmal in Berlin" is now reality. The only thing that could have stopped me from carrying out this project was if former concentration camps prisoners, didnt want to join in the realisation, as I consider their participation crucial to properly endow this manifestation with roots in history.
The reactions have come from all affected groups (Romani, Jews, concentration camps memorials, former prisoners) and many individuals. We have also received moral support from groups and individuals who are unable to give practical help, among others several German mayors. Such reactions, of course, are for us a strong encouragement!
List of Organisations and Individuals
We are making a list which the organisations who believe in the project can sign on to. The names of these organisations will later be carved into the plinth of the Pillar, along with the names of the former prisoners who drawn the notches.
I enclose a list, which the organisations can sign on to, if interested in making themselves supportive of the idea, and telling the world that they have helped realising this manifestation. You can of course also help, without being on this list. In addition you can sign on if you are a former prisoner, or similar, and want to participate by setting lines on the bronze plates, and thus contribute to the success of the project.
Organising the Work with the Lines
It is a huge job to organise the participation of people from all over the globe in this task. I think that we have got it pretty much under control, but there is still a long way to go till the final Pillar is done. You have to consider that we are a workshop, and that das Schandmal is being organised by volunteers, and unpaid people, so we need all the help we can get.
Help: I encourage all organisations and individuals in direct touch with former concentration camps prisoners, to support by contacting persons/groups, who will help organise the work with the lines in their region, country, concentration camps memorials, etc. Some organisations have already done so, but we still need a lot before we have covered the whole globe.
The lines: I have changed the procedure of engraving the lines a little bit. In the first place I planned the notches to be engraved directly into the bronze plates. However, to send the plates to all corners of the world, postage and packing would be too expensive. Moreover the task would be rather troublesome. Instead I have decided that the lines be drawn on a special sheet of paper which is then photographed onto the bronze plates and etched into the metal. These special documents will be ready within a few weeks and can be sent out, so the work can begin.
Number of Lines
We have had some considerations on how many lines to set. Even though the task is symbolic, it is still important that the number fits fairly to the number of casualties of the industrial mass extermination of people. We have spoken to several historians, and have come to the conclusion that if we take victims from all camps, detentions and forced workers, etc., the number will reach approximately ten millions. If you have any comments for this, please send it to us right away.
The number is so monstrous that we have no reason to exaggerate or understate.
Help for Documentation
We will in connection to this project make a website with the address: www.shandmal.dk. We need all the help we can get to make this site, e.g. historians and some who can make the practical shape of the Internet site. I (Galschiot) will provide the site on the Net but I have no money to pay you for the work.
I imagine that the content of the site will be the following:
Time and Place
Date of Inauguration: After painstaking considerations I have chosen 9 November 1999, Reichskristallnacht for the inauguration of the sculpture. For various reasons, this date on the eve of the millennium, is ideal for setting up the Pillar in Berlin:
Site: An ideal site in Berlin has not yet been found, but I am considering some possibilities. Maybe you have some suggestions or some contacts that could be useful in this context? Ill readily accept all sorts of proposals. Preferably a central site should be found with a symbolic connection to the nazi period. There will be no expenses for those who provide the site. On the other hand, I am not able to pay for the site. The only reward consists of the relish of having provided a public space for a monument with a unique history. Maybe one of the big companies with residence in the centre of Berlin could donate a small plot of land for this noble purpose?
I will also address the Berlin authorities to ask them for a convenient site.
In case of emergency, if no other solution can be found, I will sell my family silver in order to purchase a site for the sculpture. Anyway, the lack of a site will not be a stumbling block for the project.
Press and Public
We have not yet informed the press. It has been important to me that most of the participants be informed first. They are now, so we count on making press releases very soon. If you know any good press contacts, please send me a letter, fax, e-mail etc.
The Danish TV2 have decided to make a documentation footage about this project, and have already started shooting.
We have sent the concept to all members of the Federal Parliament in Bonn and the Senate of Berlin, so they have been briefed of the background of this project, and what the idea of it is. There is to be a bigger debate in the parliament on an official holocaust memorial, and even if this project has nothing to do with ours, and does not compete with it, I still believe the importance of all members being briefed directly from us, and not from a perhaps not all true press release.
The economy of this project has not been changed. A personal friend of mine has given me a contribution of 6,000 USD for the bronze plates, the rest is still out of my pocket. The sculpture has been finished.
I can finance the project, but it would be nice with a large donation. It has to come from a place completely independent of German economic and other special interests. I believe it is important to keep independence - this has to be a monument, set up by former concentration camps prisoners from all over the globe, working with a Danish artist and his crew of volunteers.
Global Network of Pillars
The Pillar of Shame in Berlin will be a part of a world wide network of sculptures set up across the globe to pillory serious infringements. The first Pillar was set up in Hong Kong with the Chinese democracy movement.
The next Pillar will be erected in Mexico City on 18 April 1999, in co-operation with the CNI, an umbrella body of all indigenous peoples in Mexico. The sculpture will be set up to mark the International Day against Impunity and to denounce the encroachments on the Mexican Indians.
The first site of the three tonnes, eight metres high sculpture will be the park Bosque de Chapultepec. One week later it will be moved to the Tlatelolco square and subsequently it will take centre stage in the 1. May demonstrations, where over half a million participants are expected. The sculptures movement hereafter is insecure, but maybe it is to participate in a caravan passing through indigenous villages and ending in the southern federal state of Chiapas, where currently a military mission of 50,000 people has been set in to protect the Indians from themselves.
Jens Galschiot - Banevaenget 22 - DK-5270 Odense N - Denmark
Tel.: (+45) 6618 4058 Fax: (+45) 6618 4158
E-mail: email@example.com - http://www.aidoh.dk