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© Samuel D. Gruber, Photographer: Gruber, Samuel D., 2018

Who is Commemorated?

Victims of Buchenwald-Dora concentration camp

Description

The monument is in section 97 of the cemetery in an area of other collective monuments.

The bronze sculpture represents three emaciated prisoners who are little more than standing skeletons. Their heads look like skulls and their bones and joints protrude. The figures are connected, they almost seem to intertwine. Two figures are upright, and they support another who has fallen backward. The figures represent suffering, solidarity, and human dignity. 

The figures seem modeled on the photos by Margaret Bourke-White at the time of liberation and then widely published.  The sculpted figures resemble the bodies in the piles of corpses and of survivors who seemed like the walking dead. 

Inscriptions

on the edge of the base

BUCHENWALD - DORA

text from Louis Aragon:

Qu’à jamais ceci montre comme l'Homme dut tomber
Et comment le courage et le dévouement
Lui conservent son nom d'Homme.

Translation: Let this forever show how the Man had to fall / And how courage and devotion / Maintain his name of Man

Commissioned by

Association des déportés de Buchenwald-Dora

Name/Title
Buchenwald-Dora monument in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris | Unknown
Object Detail
Settings
Date
1964
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Origin
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Unknown |
Congregation
Unknown
Location
France | Ile-de-France région | Paris
| Père Lachaise Cemetery
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
granite (base), bronze (sculpture)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
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Condition
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
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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
Languages of inscription
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
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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
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Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
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Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
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Summary and Remarks
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance

The monument is one of more than a dozen memorials erected in the past 70 years commemorating victims of various Nazi concentration and death camps. These monuments have been erected by camp survivors, political organizations, and other associations beginning in 1949, when memorials to victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau (June) and the camp at Neuengamme (November) were dedicated.

Created by sculptor Louis Bancel, who was asked by his friend Boris Taslitsky in 1957 to create the monument dedicated to the memory of Buchenwald’s victims. Taslitsky, who was born in Paris, was Jewish, a Communist, a soldier, a Resistance fighter, and a survivor of various prisons and of Buchenwald. In 1946 Louis Aragon published 100 drawings of Buchenwald by Taslitsky, and these, together with photos taken at the time of the liberation of the camp, became iconic representations. The monumental bronze sculpture (inaugurated April 5, 1964) is set on a granite base designed by architect M. Romer (himself a deportee), recalls Taslitsky’s drawings and is engraved with lines of poetry by Louis Aragon.

Most of the inmates and victims at Buchenwald, at least until the very last months of the camp. were not Jewish and this is not a Holocaust Monument per se. Still, the memorial plays an important role in the development of Holocaust monuments and iconography. It is one of a group of works from 1950s and 1960s that focuses on the physical - even cadaverous - state of Holocaust victims, rather than idealizing them as healthy heroes and fighters. In this monument, however, though the three figures are shown starved almost to a skeletal state, they remain unbowed. Bancel has managed to combine the motifs of suffering and heroism.

In France, a coalition of Resistance fighters, Jewish deportees, and other victims of Nazi crimes worked to create a public narrative of suffering and heroism balancing the themes of the Gaullist politics of memory of the 1950s with those of the political left. France’s Communists tended to commemorate the sacrifices of the Resistance and of the victims of the camps as acts of martyrdom for the Left. Significantly, monuments for victims of the camps were first included alongside graves of and memorials to leaders of the Communist Party. The Buchenwald-Dora monument includes a quote from Surrealist poet Louis Aragon, who was an active Communist, too.

Meanwhile, the official Jewish Community began in the 1940s to place plaques in synagogues remembering Jewish victims under the heading "Morts pour la France," (Fallen for France), even though many victims died through the complicity of French authorities and police.

Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
Short Name
Full Name
Volume
Page
Type
Documenter
|
Author of description
Samuel D. Gruber | 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.
A471323