Our Art in Auschwitz

italicsBy Daniela Gross

“The Italian Memorial must stay in Auschwitz”. With this strong headline, an essay on the THE Corriere della Sera newspaper re-launched the issue regarding the Italian monument placed at the concentration camp back in 1980, in Block 21, to honor the Italians who died in the Nazi lager. The problem dates back some months, when the Auschwitz Museum together with the Polish government decided to remove the artifact, considered no longer coherent with the renewed didactic of the exhibition.

Many, and among them the association Gherush92 – Committee for Human Rights, raised their voices to preserve the Memorial, which is considered among the most important and representative Italian artwork of the 20th century. There was no way to solve the problem, so finally the decision was made to dismantle it, moving it to Italy. Removed from Auschwitz, however, the monument obviously will not preserve its original meaning. Artists, intellectuals, professional, and politicians of all parties thus signed an international document, aimed at maintaining that masterwork in situ. According to the members of the Parliament who signed the related query addressed to the Italian Prime Minister and to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the removal of the Auschwitz Memorial would be motivated by some artistic features which recall Communism. Among them, the red flag, “today considered outlawed, in Poland”, reads the article on Corriere della Sera. In this way, it continued, they want “to erase, from history and consciences, the sacrifice of men and women who gave their life for liberty.”