Holocaust Memorials Under Siege?


New England Holocaust Memorial, by Stanley Saitowitz


The New England Holocaust Memorial, the result of a competition won by Stanley Saitowitz (above), appeared to be an easy target with its glass panel design for teenagers on two separate occasions. Just focusing on competitions, an attack against any building that was the result of a competition raises a red flag for us. But this is especially true in an environment where the rise of anti-semitism creates an environment in which those extremists interested in undertaking such acts see memorials as an easy option. 

Until recently, the most serious target of hate mongers wishing to make a strong statement against Jews has been synagogues, often ending in violence. Now it’s the memorials, whether not just in Boston, but Philadelphia, or Greensboro, but elsewhere. Not just an American phenomenon, it has reared its ugly head worldwide. In their attack against the Ukraine, some Russian missles even landed near the future site of a Baby Yar memorial in Kiev, probably putting an end to that project for years to come. And in Berlin, Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial, also the result of a competition, was recently vandalized during a demonstration. During my last. visit to Berlin, its main synagogue was fenced off to prevent vandalism; so the memorial has become an easier target. Architects would like to think that the products of their profession be apolitical. But if you end up designing an LGTB center or, God forbid, a Holocaust Memorial, contending with the issues of security can be a daunting task. -Ed