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Obj. ID: 38468
Modern Jewish Art
  Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna, Austria, 2000

© Samuel D. Gruber, Photographer: Gruber, Samuel D., April 2004

Who is Commemorated?

Austrian victims of the Holocaust

Description

The bunker-like monument takes the form of an inverted library – one where the books’ spines face inward, and their outer edges seem to line all sides of the massive concrete block construction.  According to the sculptor, the unread pages represent the unlived lives of Holocaust victims.  The names of Nazi camps where so many of them died are inscribed around the base of the block.

According to Simon Wiesenthal, who stood behind the construction: "This monument shouldn't be beautiful. It must hurt." [Connolly, 2000].

Inscriptions

The monument is inscribed in German, English, and Hebrew.

In German:

Zum Gedenken an die mehr als 65 000 österreichischen
Juden, die in der Zeit von 1938 bis 1945 von den
Nationalsozialisten ermordet wurden.

Translation: In commemoration of more than 65,000 Austrian Jews who were killed by the Nazis between 1938 and 1945.

In English:

In commemoration of more than 65,000 Austrian Jews
who were killed by the Nazis between
1938 and 1945.

In Hebrew:

זכר למעלה מ-65.000 יהודים אוסטריים
שנרצחו בשנים 1945-1938
ע"י [=על ידי] הפושעים הנציונלסוציאליסטיים ימ"ש [= ימחו שמם].

Translation: Memory of more than 65,000 Austrian Jews who were murdered in the years 1938-45 by the National Socialist criminals, may their names be obliterated.

On the plinth on the three sides of the memorials, engraved the names of places and camps, where Austrian Jews were killed: 

Auschwitz
 Bełżec
Bergen-Belsen

Brčko
Buchenwald
Chełmno

Dachau
Flossenbürg
Groß-Rosen

Gurs
Hartheim
Izbica

Jasenovac
Jungfernhof
Kaiserwald

Kielce
Kowno
Łagów

Litzmannstadt
Lublin
Majdane

Maly Trostinec
Mauthausen
Minsk

Mittelbau/Dora
Modliborzyce
Natzweiler

Neuengamme
Nisko
Opatów

Opole
Ravensbrück
Rejowiec

Riga
Šabac
Sachsenhausen

Salaspils
San Sabba
Sobibor

Stutthof
Theresienstadt
Trawniki

Treblinka
Włodawa
Zamość

Commissioned by

The project originated by Simon Wiesenthal and was sponsored by the city of Vienna under Mayor Michael Häupl.

Summary and Remarks

23 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Date
2000
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Whiteread, Rachel (sculptor)
(Unknown)
{"3148":"b. 1963"}
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Unknown |
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Languages of inscription
Type of grave
Unknown
Material/Technique
Steel, concrete
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
10 x 7 meters and a height of 3.8 meters
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Condition
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance

Judenplatz is a singular place of remembrance. There are three main elements to this: the excavated remains of a medieval synagogue, a museum about medieval Viennese Jewry, and, most prominently, a Holocaust memorial designed by British sculptor Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963).

The creation of this memorial, the ‘Nameless Library’, was promoted by the late Simon Wiesenthal as a memorial to Austrian victims of the Holocaust, but also as a complaint against his country and its capital city that no such public recognition of the Holocaust had been created. Work began on the memorial in 1995. After delays, it was completed and dedicated in October 2000.

Like the monument against Fascism at the Albertinaplatz, the construction of the memorial took place in a bitter political climate. Jorg Haider’s right-wing Freedom Party was making gains, reminding Austria and the world that xenophobia and anti-Semitism were hardly things of the past. City authorities also had to deal with the discovery of the remains of a medieval synagogue during excavations for the monument, raising thorny issues: whether construction on this specific site was appropriate, or even against Jewish law. In the end, the excavation of the medieval synagogue and the presentation of the history of its destruction was seen as a necessary and valuable part of the process of commemoration and monument-making.

At the request of the artist, the memorial was not given an anti-graffiti coating. Whiteread explained:

"If someone sprays a swastika on it we can try to scrub it off, but a few daubed swastikas would really make people think about what's happening in their society."
[Connolly, 2000]

Main Surveys & Excavations
Sources

Comey, Rebecca. “Memory Block: Rachel Whiteread’s Holocaust Memorial in Vienna,” in Shelley Hornstein and Florence Jacobowitz, eds., Image and Remembrance: Representation and the Holocaust (Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 2002), 251-271., 251-271.

Connolly, Kate. "Closed books and stilled lives. Review: Whiteread's concrete tribute to victims of nazism." The Guardian, October 26, 2000., https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/oct/26/kateconnolly (accessed March 6, 2022)

For the project's history, its detailed description, and bibliography, see
"Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial," Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judenplatz_Holocaust_Memorial (accessed December 14, 2021)

Uhl, Heidemarie. “From the Periphery to the Center of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in Vienna.” Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust 30, no. 3 (September 2016): 221–242., https://doi.org/10.1080/23256249.2016.1257217 (accessed December 13, 2021)
 
Type
Documenter
|
Author of description
Samuel D. Gruber, Berezin Anna | 2022
Architectural Drawings
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Computer Reconstruction
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Section Head
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Language Editor
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Donor
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Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed: