BERLIN (Jul. 25)
A Holocaust memorial — likely the first ever created in Germany — is to be restored at the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The project in the eastern German state of Thuringia is expected to cost about $1 million and take four years.
The sculpture by Fritz Cremer consists of 12 gigantic bronze figures representing liberated prisoners parading in triumph. The 18-ton sculpture was placed in front of the memorial’s clock tower and near several mass graves in 1959.
The clock tower, which can be seen from the town of Weimar in a valley several miles away, serves as a reminder to local residents that a concentration camp had existed just a short train ride from their homes.
During World War II, German civilians could visit the camp’s falconry and zoo, which had been set up for the entertainment of SS members.
On July 23, workers removed the figures from their granite pedestal. Experts had reported that the bronze surface had been seriously damaged by air pollution, vandalism and years of neglect, and the iron supports had rusted.
An underlying problem was the poor quality of the metal produced in the former East German foundry.
Restorers plan to consult with former workers from the foundry, as well as with the sculptor’s widow.
The artist, who died in 1993 at the age of 87, also created memorials at the concentration camps in Mauthausen, Austria and in Ravensbruck, Germany.
Rikola-Gunnar Luttgenau, deputy director of the memorial, called Cremer’s work an artistic and cultural-political work of the highest order.
Meanwhile, a new memorial was dedicated at the camp memorial in April. The abstract stone monument was created by New York architect Stephen Jacobs, who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a child.