As we reported last month, nearly 70 years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, Holocaust memorials continue to sprout up around the country, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places, sometimes in places with nearly no Jews, like Terre Haute and Alexandria, Louisiana.
But not everyone is into this. As Tablet reports today, Richard Finan, a former Ohio state representative and current head of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, thinks the statehouse grounds are not an appropriate venue for a Holocaust memorial, even one designed by famed starchitect Daniel Libeskind.
“A Holocaust memorial does not fit with the historical markers of the State house,” Finan told me in February. “Our statues are all about Ohio’s civil war generals … I do not think a statue or monument to the Holocaust belongs in the Statehouse. There are other more viable places it could be put.”
Finan is pretty devoted to this position. For two decades, he helmed the advisory board, but resigned two days before a vote approving the $2 million memorial. And his point is not unreasonable. But what Finan did next is likely to evaporate some reservoirs of sympathy for his views.
This week he “ordered state employees to construct a ramshackle mock-up of the memorial made of plastic pipes, barrels, rope and a tarp with a blue Star of David painted on it on the site of the memorial,” the Columbus Dispatch reported. Finan said he wanted the public to see what the memorial would look like, but the move infuriated the Libeskinds.
“Both of us are very disappointed that such a mock-up would be used. It’s very cynical and not at all what it will look like,” Nina Libeskind, the architect’s wife and partner, told the Dispatch. “It is a clear attempt to show what is not real and subvert the process. This is not what we presented.”