The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/ushmm/design.0696

From Sun Jun  9 11:22:03 PDT 1996
Article: 41995 of alt.revisionism
From: (Danny)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Design of a six-sided Hall of Remembrance at the USHMM
Date: 8 Jun 1996 14:49 MST
Organization: University of Arizona (BPA)
Lines: 127
Distribution: world
Message-ID: <>
News-Software: VAX/VMS VNEWS 1.50    

In the thread "An all Jewish memorial despite an act of Congress,"  Matt
Giwer remarked on the hexagonal shape of the Hall of Remembrance at the
USHMM.  I posted a follow-up to the thread asking for an original source. 
Giwer told me to look at DejaNews for the first post in the thread.  I did
and found that both Giwer and Mr. Katz have made mistakes.

Giwer began in article <4ot330$> by quoting from
an article by Laura Dove (

    James Ingo Freed's initial reluctance to take on the planning of the
    museum dissipated after visiting the shtetls and the death camps in
    Europe. He began to incorporate elements of both the Jews' lives before
    the Holocaust and architectural details from the camps themselves into
    his planning. Freed said, "There are certain methodologies of
    construction, certain tectonics that begin to be very powerful in the
    memory of the place." His only fast architectural requirement from the
    commission concerned the hexagonal shape of the Hall of Remembrance.
    This has been taken to symbolize both the Star of David and the six
    million Jews who died in the Holocaust. His other design decisions were
    concerned with the abstraction of form to evoke meaning, saying, "I
    wanted to make it abstractly symbolic. I was not interested in
    resuscitating the forms of the Holocaust." With these loose parameters
    in mind, as well as an avoidance of any neo-classical alignment with
    Albert Speer's architecture of the Third Reich, Freed began drawing
    specific proposals.  [empahsis mine]

Mr. Giwer did not put forward a thesis, he merely posted a portion of Ms.
Dove's article.  But Mr. Katz responded in article 
 by saying:

    This only proves that Mr. Giwer cannot read with comprehension.  The
    text says, "This has been taken to symbolize..."  It does not say, "The
    architect said this is to symbolize..."

It is unclear to me what Mr. Katz is responding to.  Perhaps there was a
previous discussion on this subject.  As to the point Mr. Katz is making, I
must agree with Mr. Katz.  The commission DID insist on a hexagon.  The
article Giwer cited did not indicate why they insisted on a hexagon.  The
article goes on to say that that observers have inferred both a "Star of
David" and "six million victims" from the design.

In fact, another section of the same article, which Giwer CHOSE NOT TO

    The permanent exhibit is designed to culminate in the Hall of
    Remembrance; a peaceful, serene and contemplative space conducive to
    meditation. The center of the ceiling is a skylight, but the windows
    are obscured, preventing panoramic views of the Mall and the monuments.
    On the tops of the doors are triangular cut-outs, reminiscent of the
    triangle patches worn by homosexuals in the camps. The shape of the
    Hall is hexagonal. The architect has deliberately obscured the
    architectural language, leaving it up to the permanent exhibit to
    hammer home the specific lessons of the Holocaust. [emphasis mine]

Giwer's response to Mr. Katz's article in
<4p32g9$> did not address Mr. Katz's point
above.  So, apparently Giwer ceded that the representation is an inference
of the observer, not the implication of the designer (or the Commission.)
Actually, to be fair to Giwer, what he did in his follow-up post was to
repost his clip from the original article and state, "Of course, context is
everything."  I fail to see how this supports his point that Mr. Katz
refuted, bu I am confident, that Giwer will appreciate the additional
section of the article I added to enhance context.  Even if it does run
counter to his original assertion.

Mr Katz also wrote in his response to Giwer:

    The architect insisted on a hexagonal building for no reason, except
    that it fit his artisitic sensibilities.  The interpretation was
    contributed by the art critics, who, as everyone knows, are failed
    artists themselves.

Mr. Katz has made two factual mistakes here.  Giwer caught both of them. 
The building is not hexagonal, only the Hall of Remembrance.  And the
architect did not insist on the hexagonal shape, it was dictated to him by
the Commission.  I am uncertain as to why Mr. Katz chose to insult art
critics (Giwer can bring out the worst in all of us).

Giwer's responded to Mr. Katz in <4p32g9$>. 
Giwer said, in correcting Mr. Katz's error about the shape of the museum as
a whole:

    The building is NOT a hexagon.  ONLY the Hall of Rememberance is. Given
    the number dead it should be 12 sided or 5 sided.  The lower figure has
    always been known to reputable historians.  Have you not bee[n] reading? 
    But then this is more MEMORIAL than museum as it preserves the 6
    million myth in place of the currently true 5 million (rounded off of
    course.) [emphasis in origional] 

But, of course, Giwer is ignoring the information in the article HE OFFERED
AS HIS CITATION in asserting that the Hall definitively represents the
number of dead from the Holocaust.  We have read in this article that the
intent was to be obscure.  Observers must infer their own meaning.  In
addition, the article Giwer cited makes mention of representation in the
Hall of Remembrance for the suffering of homosexuals in the Holocaust. 
Given this fact, it is very unlikely that the Hall of Remembrance exists to
commemmorate ONLY the Jews killed in the Holocaust.  And Giwer knew this --
or should have known this -- as it was in a portion of the article he
cited, though he chose not to share this part with us.

-------- (Matt Giwer)
"An all Jewish memorial despite an act of Congress"
June 2, 1996 (Harry Katz)
"Re: An all Jewish memorial despite an act of Congress"

June 5, 1996 (Matt Giwer). 
"Re: An all Jewish memorial despite an act of Congress"
June 5, 1996

Laura Dove
"The Architecture of the Holocaust Memorial"

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.