Photos courtesy of the US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad
by Samuel D. Gruber
President Barack Obama’s visit today to the concentration camp at
It was at the Little Camp that Elie Wiesel was imprisoned, and there that the famous photograph of the emaciated sixteen-year--old Wiesel was taken. The famous photo is now on view at the camp and was shown to Barack Obama. The Little Camp site and the history of its Jewish victims was largely ignored by
The creation of a modest and sensitive monument; and space for contemplation and commemoration on the Little Camp site was a project of a U.S. government agency, the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The project took many years, and was finally completed and dedicated in 2002. Warren Miller, first as a Commission member and then as Commission Chairman stayed with this project through the arduous planning, design, review, funding and implementation process, a story which he related in his speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in a ceremony prior to the monument’s dedication.
To me, the importance of this monument is considerable, but three aspects stand out and deserve attention. First, the monument was designed by American architect Stephen Jacobs, himself a child survivor, like Wiesel, of the Little Camp.
Second, the monument avoids any semblance of sentimentality, bombast or empty architectural rhetoric. It is simple, austere and elegant and instead of proving a monumental backdrop for official ceremonies (as Cremer monument did) it provides a quiet space for contemplation. The same distinction exists in
Lastly and most important, the monument at the Little Camp has a lengthy and detailed narrative of the history, events and horrors of the Little Camp – literally spelled out in six languages. This was Warren Miller’s most important contribution. He insisted there be no ambiguity about what had happened. Abstract monuments open to different interpretations would not do, nor vague inspirational language, like “Never Again.” Communist-era monuments were already heavy on symbols and rhetoric, but light on specifics. Unlike many previously memorials that function on the assumption that the viewer already knows what happened, the
Click here to view pictures of the memorial.
The text on the monument reads:
“On this site was the infamous "Little Camp." Separated by only a barbed wire fence from the Main Camp, its inmates were subjected to the greatest suffering of all those at
You can read more about the Commission’s Little Camp Memorial project here, with links to various speeches.
For more information about the entire