I am a Danish sculptor who in addition to casting of more or less conventional sculptures in bronze and copper is engaged in the realisation of international art manifestations in defence of the ethical foundations of our civilisation.
In this context I have decided to set up a sculpture titled The Pillar of Shame on a central site in Berlin. The sculpture is eight metres in height depicting more than 50 painfully twisted human bodies. It is to be erected in remembrance of the mass extermination by the Nazi regime, see enclosed document..
Im writing you in order to invite you contribute to this project. The sculpture is finished and stored in my workshop, ready to be set up in Berlin. However, as I began articulating my ideas on the mass extermination I got aware of an essential shortcoming of my piece of art, namely that the absent participation of the surviving victims, the people who have bodily experienced the atrocities. The creation of precisely a sculpture to commemorate this anti-humanistic crime calls for the participation of eye witnesses. I ask you to help me with this task.
This Pillar of Shame will be placed on a square platform measuring 10 x 10 metres. The platform will be completely covered by bronze plates in which about 10 million notches will be etched, one for each victim of the mass extermination. The notches will be placed in groups of five, four side by side and one across. These notches will fill the area of the platform completely.
The many million notches will be drawn by the survivors from the concentration camps, who in this way almost engrave the fates of their fellow prisoners into the plates, as a testimony from the depth of history passed on to posterity. Each of the former prisoners subscribes with his prisoners number, the name of the camp and the distinctive mark branded into the skin or worn on the jacket (marks used to distinguish the different groups: Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc.). Only by these signatures the monotony of the notches will be broken.
In this way the memory of the victims will become an integral part of the memorial.
This Pillar of Shame is not a substitute for the constantly discussed official holocaust memorial, but as a personal statement of an artist in close co-operation with the surviving victims who have contributed to the creation of the platform. Hence we set up the sculpture according to our own agenda. No political, economical or religious interests are involved. The enterprise is just a statement of people who consider the mass extermination by the Nazi regime the biggest crime of our civilisation and find that this atrocity deserves to be pilloried by this Nobel Prize of Injustice.
The sculpture is to be set up as soon as possible in Berlin, the new capital of Germany. It is still uncertain where the monument eventually can be set up, but in co-operation with former concentration camp prisoners in Berlin we will try and find a suitable site. I will by no means accept to get mired in the standing excruciating controversy on a holocaust memorial. We set up our monument now, to commemorate not only the Jews but all groups doomed to annihilation. Indeed, it would be senseless if a monument denouncing the racial segregation of people should commemorate only some groups selected on a racial basis.
Are you ready to help me with this enterprise?
I need to get in contact with as many former concentration camp prisoners as possible, representing as wide a range as possible of different groups and different countries. I will incite these people to contribute to the project, engraving their testimony into the bronze plates in the shape of the notches. I hope that associations of former prisoners, institutes of education, holocaust museums and similar organisations all over the world will help me with the organisation of this task. You can do so by forwarding a copy of this letter and the enclosed document to your members and to other organisations and individuals that might be willing to contribute, or by sending relevant addresses to us. We will be extremely grateful for such a help.
About the process of engraving the notches we imagine the following agenda:
In this way we have made a piece of art together, due to elucidate the mass extermination and to commemorate the victims.
All costs related to transportation, materials, etc. will be covered by Jens Galschiot. The artist will constantly keep all participants up to date about the course of events how far we have come, where the monument is to be set up, etc. All helpers will be invited to the inauguration, of course. However, each must cover his own costs, as I am just a philanthropic sculptor not especially well-off, and just barely I succeed to fund my projects. I fund the Berlin project almost exclusively myself, mainly by the sale of my conventional bronze and copper sculptures. In addition, a friend of mine who is an actor in a childrens theatre and chairman of a foundation (the Funch Foundation) has granted a contribution of about 6,000 USD for the bronze platform.
I hope you will participate in the realisation of this enterprise, and I will be grateful if you will answer as soon as possible, so that I can know whether we can carry out this project together.
If you are interested, we readily send you some more documentation and a video about our activities. You are always welcome to contact us if you have any kind of questions, comments or proposals. More information and a lot of photos are available at our homepage: http://www.aidoh.dk
We would appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible. Even an immediate concise reaction - positive or negative - will be highly useful to us, allowing us to judge whether we find sufficient support to carry out our project.
Jens Galschiot and Vagn Frausing
(sculptor) (international secretary)