Anita Lasker-Wallfisch: Stop this Holocaust memorial

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch: Stop this Holocaust memorial


norman lebrecht

December 27, 2020

I wrote some weeks ago, under one of my other hats, urging last-ditch resistance to the Holocaust memorial that politicians of all shades and motives want to erect in Westminster, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Now, a great voice of conscience has joined our opposition. The cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, an Auschwitz survivor, has spoken out in an interview with the Observer architecture critic, Rowan Moore:

Lasker-Wallfisch questions the £100m cost – “an unbelievable amount of stupid money spent on what, exactly?” – in straitened times. The proposal will “overshadow a memorial on banning slavery”, a neighbouring Victorian tribute to the abolitionist Thomas Fowell Buxton. “It hasn’t been thought through… it’s counter-productive… Basically, if you want to promote antisemitism, this would be the thing to do,” she says.

Read on here.



  • CYM says:

    I understand why an Holocaust survivor wants to escape horrific memories, and go on with life.
    – But shouldn’t the younger
    generation be aware and
    educated about all crimes of war,
    genocides, as a good start to avoid
    ugly repetitions !?

    • violin accordion says:

      A long time before European crimes of war, indigenous tribal people worldwide were invaded, overwhelmed, enslaved and slaughtered by aliens from Europe, arriving in their ships, vessels of imposition and murder, rather than those of the tribes who used them to feed their people

      • caranome says:

        And before that, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan et al “invaded, overwhelmed, enslaved and slaughtered people (i.e. raped and pillaged) from Europe, arriving in their horses, vessels of imposition and murder, rather than those of the tribes who used them to feed their people.” Therefore, white Europeans should demand reparations from people of color.

      • Allen says:

        “enslaved and slaughtered by aliens from Europe”

        Just from Europe?

    • Hilary says:

      Less than 50mins walk away, and 15mins cycle ~ The War Museum does that very well indeed . Once Covid is over, it will be even more easy to access.

    • psq says:

      Before you cavalierly and wilfully misinterpret her reason, go and read the whole article again which includes the followings:

      “… returning to Germany, when the English Chamber Orchestra, with whom she played, toured near Belsen.”

      “…After her book was published, she started to recount her experiences in schools, including in Germany and Austria, …”

      Belsen was the last camp she was in before liberation came.

      Does that sounds like someone who
      “… wants to escape horrific memories” ?

      Education, as you said, yes. That’s exactly what she emphasized in the article. I really think you didn’t bother to read what she wrote, or your comprehension of it is so miserable!

    • Christopher Clift says:

      The best way to avoid repetitions is to educate, educate, educate all those who either deny the holocaust took place, or question the numbers oif its victims. It is not necessary to spend mind-numbing sums of money on something which cannot say a word to enlighten those people I have mentioned.

    • Jonisha says:

      This is not a mainstream topic. It’s about white people so nobody cares about their problems especially when they are male. If white people have issues, it’s their problem in their own world.

      The media narrative being sold today is about blacks who continue to be oppressed by whites including Jews btw as they are clearly white.

      #blm is already more important than any white history and is now being taught in the schools beginning at elementary level.

      Diversity has been pushed in university systems as more important than any facet of whiteness.

      We constantly hear about black reparations from our leadership as well.

      Watch the mainstream news, advertising, the internet and look at what’s being taught in the schools to see black dominance. Nothing else is important anymore.

  • When dealing with the unspeakable, less is more. But even that fails.

  • Akutagawa says:

    Why does this country require a physical Holocaust memorial at all, let alone one in such a prominent position? The Shoah was not planned in the UK, it did not take place in the UK, and with few exceptions it did not claim the lives of UK citizens. It makes about as much sense as putting up a memorial to the Irish potato famine opposite the parliament building in Minsk.

    • Joseph says:

      Akutagawa, what do you think is the main purpose of a Holocaust memorial? I think it is probably to bear witness and to remember. The act of remembering and bearing witness should contribute to avoiding such atrocities in the future. The UK has a deep history of antisemitism, just like pretty much every other European country. Antisemitism exists also in the United States and elsewhere. The Holocaust was promoted by the Nazi regime because of specific and unique historical causes, but I do not think many would argue that Germans are intrinsically more evil, correct? Something like the Holocaust (directed against the Jews or to other categories of human beings) could happen again, anywhere, and that is the point of building a memorial, I think, in addition to honoring the victims. Perhaps some of the Holocaust victims are ancestors of today’s British citizens.
      In summary, a monument of this kind transcends national boundaries. If you ever come to the United States, I recommend that you visit the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. Have a Joyful 2021.

      • Hilary says:

        “ the U.K. has a deep history of anti-semitism”
        In which case memorials specifically highlighting these events. For example, The Battle of Cable Street (1936) of which there is a red plaque commemorating the incident.
        The demise of the Victorian artist Semyon Solomon due to Anti-Semitism and homophobia ought to be more known about.

      • Akutagawa says:


        Thank you for your reply. I have nothing but respect for the sincerity of your views, and in the event that they originate in losses suffered by loved ones past and present, I offer my profoundest sympathies. Nonetheless, I see little evidence for your assertion that the act of remembering and bearing witness at memorials ever contributes to avoiding such atrocities in the future. None of the memorials to the First World War in every town and village in the UK did a single blessed thing to stop the Second, and I also doubt it was the absence of Holocaust memorials that gave the Hutus the green light to inflict genocide on the Tutsis in Rwanda. I’m afraid I’ve never visited the Holocaust museum in Washington DC (though I have visited the Jewish museums in both Berlin and Warsaw, which are both more about life than death), but I have been to the memorials to the wars in Korea and Vietnam in that city. Did either of those prevent the war in Iraq?

        I also take issue with your suggestion that the Shoah transcends national boundaries, as if it’s some free floating atrocity devoid of any historical context whatsoever. If that’s really the case, are there any limits at all on where Holocaust memorials should be located? Up the Amazon maybe, or in the middle of the Gobi desert? What about Antarctica? I apologise if this sounds flippant, but it is the logical endpoint of your reasoning.

        Either the Shoah is a general example of man’s inhumanity to man, in which case it’s no longer about individual Jewish destinies, what Mr Lebrecht has called The Song of Names, or it’s a specific thing done by and to specific people at a specific time for specific reasons, in which case it’s up to the perpetrators and the victims, and their respective descendants, to come to terms with it, without the vicarious interest of bystanders, however well intentioned they may be. What I believe it cannot be, in all sincerity, and with all respect to you, is both of these things at the same time.

        I wish you a joyful 2021 also.

    • How about a bronze statue of Lord Chamberlain holding his umbrella and a copy of his brokered peace agreement in with Hitler

      • Violin Accordion says:

        Arthur Neville Chamberlain was never a Lord and in fact refused a knighthood.
        In your mind you assume he was far more important than he clearly believed he was

  • V. Lind says:

    How about because it’s hideous? It would not inspire any noble thoughts in me — rather the opposite, resenting the blight upon the landscape. Not a memorial that would inspire me to stop and think of the Holocaust and pray for its victims at all.

    And I do take such public memorials seriously — I consider it a travesty to pass by the War Memorial that was on my way to a frequent appointment without looking at it and at least briefly casting my mind as to why it was there — that’s how I was raised. But that design would prompt nothing except to rush on by and get it behind me.

    Victims of the Holocaust deserve something more thought-through, and the views of Ms. Lasker-Wallfisch surely deserve to be considered by those who are doing this out of some sort of political agenda. (Probably to kick the Labour Party when it is down — by its own hand).

    Once someone wants to erect a monument to this particular horror, for the right reason, it will probably look right and be in the right place.

  • Race trumps religion says:

    The history books have largely dropped this white topic in favor of pithy black oppression narratives which are far more marketable.

  • In about 5 decades or so, when all the Holocaust survivors are gone, as well as the second generation, and only a monument stands to remind us of the greatest act of inhumanity ever known on earth. there may be even one person who will remember because of the memorial monuments.

  • Herbie G says:

    All the above opinions seem worthy of consideration but I see this from another angle. It’s not really, to my mind, a matter of whether or not we should remember the Holocaust – of course we should, and of course we should also remember that this was masterminded by a country that was supposedly the acme of western civilisation – the country that spawned Goethe, Beethoven, Schiller and Schopenhauer, among a host of the greatest creative and intellectual thinkers and artists of the western world. It’s a reminder of how thin is the veneer of culture, liberalism and acceptance of others’ ways of life and thinking – a flimsy veneer that covers the basest instincts of greed, violence and xenophobia that come to the surface so easily when circumstances provide the right pretext. One could call it the ‘Lord of the Flies’ syndrome. I didn’t mention ‘tolerance’ among the virtues listed above – it’s a misnomer in that context. One tolerates a nuisance – but ideally one should accept those of different ways of life, backgrounds and opinions.

    That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with NL and Anita Lasker-Wallfisch regarding the form of the proposed memorial. I cannot see how on earth it will serve the purpose stated – indeed, I have not so far even seen a statement of purpose advanced by the advocates of this scheme, other than the nebulous ‘promoting awareness of the Holocaust’. Then there’s the format. Why should a gruesome episode in recent history be commemorated by a gruesome eyesore that obscures the view of the edge of Parliament Square and is totally out of keeping with the architecture of the surrounding buildings? Furthermore, in all the photographs of the structure I have seen, there’s no sign of anything on the exterior that would immediately identify its purpose to passers-by. It would be a magnet for vandalism, graffiti and the unwelcome attention of those BLM and other thugs who deface statues or anything else that happens to be a target on which to vent their anger. Finally, especially at this present time, it would be an utter waste of money that could be used to far better effect.

    • Violin Accordion says:

      Parliament Square has become something between a mausoleum and a circus. It’s already a prominent attraction for the great unwashed, Trumptards, ukippers brexiteers and graffiteers.
      I suppose adding a ‘wailing wall’ would probably go unnoticed ?

  • Marie says:

    disagree. Although it is not necessary to spend that amount of money, a Holocaust memorial is important, so people never forget. For new generation, the Holocaust is history. There are many extremists out there, who are Holocaust deniers and amid the rising tide of antisemitism, it is vital through memorials, remembrances and education to honor the victims and promote understanding. I speak as a 2gen.Both my parents were German Holocaust survivors. Several of my relatives perished in concentration camps including my maternal grandfather in Auschwitz and my maternal great grandmother in Terezin

    • Agree Marie, speaking as a second generation daughter of survivors, who were the only surviving member’s of my family. My entire maternal family were murdered in Auschwitz, and paternal grandparents in Chelmno. My mother was a slave laborer in Langenbielau concentration camp. She has 7 sisters. My father was a slave laborer in Czestochowa. He had 8 brothers and sisters. As long as there are Jeremy Corbyn’s, and the like, no amount of money or Holocaust memorials throughout the WORLD WILL SUFFICE.

      • George says:

        What does Jeremy Corbyn have to do with the holocaust?

        • Corbyn was the leader of a political party in England, and is a rabid anti-Semite.

          • V. Lind says:

            I seriously doubt that that is true. He is clearly not moved by the issue, to the point that he just doesn’t “get” it. That is inexcusable in a man of his general ability. But if you think he is a “rabid anti-Semite,” I don’t think you have met many — and yet I assume you have met a lot more than I have.

            If you knew anything about his leadership, it was that of a man who refused to make a decision about anything. The only rabid think he is is a vacillator.

          • Violin Accordion says:

            Citing links to back up emphatic vehement and indignant views and opinions is a weak internet syndrome rather than expounding your own cogent argument.
            But the article ends in exposing Churchill as a supporter of Zionism.
            And in criticising some actions of the British in Palestine, it fails to mention the action of the Stern and Irgun gangs,
            and Menahen Begin .

          • George says:

            There are plenty of Jews who disagree with you.

          • Violin Accordion says:

            A convenient whipping boy for the Holocaust industry as he is an active and vociferous supporter of the Palestinian Cause. But like the masses of Haredim , including esteemed Rabbis , he criticises the State , its government and policies, not Jewish people, who are largely unwitting victims.
            How could so many Jews be ‘anti Semitic’ ?

          • Your reference to the Holocaust Industry is quite accurate in that never in history has there been such an industry dedicated to the systematic murder of Jews, as many as “say” 3,000 a day in the gas chambers of German death camps.

  • Violin Accordion says:

    A central location could lead to a conflict of interests, as the founding of the state of Israel had much to do with the Holocaust, and the history of Zionism from the time of Theodore Herzl.
    As we have regularly seen, Ultra Orthodox Haredim from the communities of Stamford Hill Golders Green etc demonstrate in central London against the state of Israel and Zionism, and voice the cause of Palestinians.

    Keir Starmer stated vociferously in The House, “ I am Zionist without qualification, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism “ , as do countless Parliamentary Friends of Israel.

    A prominent memorial may lead to different factions having public disputes, and the broadest spectrum of Jewish non Jewish and secular demographics should have a substantial consultation about the subject

    • Herbie G says:

      I understand every separate word of your offering, Violin Accordion, but have no idea whatsoever of the gist of the argument you are putting forward.
      I do understand clearly Helene’s and Marie’s argument though, but don’t agree with it. Statues and memorials will never change people’s minds, any more than icons of Jesus in churches will magically guarantee that all worshippers will emerge full of love and kindness when they depart. All those gangs of murderous crusaders who slaughtered thousands on their way to the Holy Land and more when they got there were sent in the name of Jesus by the highest authority in the church at that time and were his fervent worshippers. By all accounts, he would have been horrified at what they were doing in his name.

      Rather than spending 100 million pounds on a pile of stones, why not use it to build a Holocust Memorial Ward in a major hospital in memory of the victims? In that way, anyone who entered and left it would see that it represented life and caring rather than death. Now, more than ever, it’s what we need.

      Furthermore, if it were sponsored by the Jewish community, it would be a mark of gratitude to Britain for welcoming so many Jewish refugees from Hitler and for letting them live in this wonderful country and rebuild their lives here. Of course Britain is not perfect – but I can’t think of any other country I’d rather live in.
      Helene and Marie point out their being children of refugees themselves, and that their families suffered appalling losses in the German genocide – but then, so did Anita Wallfisch-Lasker, and she opposes the memorial in its proposed form. And just for the avoidance of doubt, my own parents were refugees from Austria and members of their generation lost their lives in the Holocaust – including my father’s two sisters.

  • In view of the horrifyingly criminal act of the Pakistani government freeing those guilty of beheading the Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl how can those of you even entertain the idea that Holocaust memorial monuments might offend and encourage anti-Semites and anti-Semitism. Is your answer to Jewish blood spilled in the streets a certain etiquette that should be followed? Really, such blatant ignorance makes me sick to my stomach and afraid.

    • V. Lind says:

      I resent the implication that I am a “rabid anti-Semite” because I object to a hideous monstrosity being dumped down on one of Great Britain’s most important and attractive landmarks. I am all for a memorial, one more aesthetically pleasing and SOMEWHERE ELSE. I have made it a point all my life, as I was raised, not to forget. I also try not to forget about Cambodia, or slavery, or Rwanda. It is called being educated to issues, being a reader and researcher, trying to be thoughtful and mindful.

      All I am saying is that THAT object, THERE, will do nothing to cause anyone to think a single thought about the Holocaust. There must be better ways,

    • Violin Accordion says:

      There’s more than a few governments in The subcontinent and Middle East including Israel that are guilty of spilling blood .
      Never mind memorials. let’s get on with the peace

    • Herbie G says:

      Helene, your confused piece is long on spluttering emotion and short on logic, coherence and reason. It just won’t do. Quite what the murder of Daniel Pearl has to do with the Holocaust and even anti-Semitism is a mystery to me. He was an American journalist who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was murdered by Islamic extremists. He happened to be Jewish but it was the fact that he was American and high-profile that made him an enemy of his murderers. They have slaughtered plenty of other Americans and others who were not Jewish. The Holocaust has nothing to do with it.

      Accusing those who don’t hold your views of ‘blatant ignorance’ is also unacceptable. If you cannot express your opinions without such ‘ad hominem’ attacks, I suggest you try Facebook or Twitter, where you can trade insults ad libitum.

      It seems that you would wish to have a Holocaust memorial on every street corner, as a defiant ‘up yours’ to the anti-Semites. On the other hand, you might be arguing that their presence might persuade passing anti-Semites that they are wrong.

      I am ready to be convinced that my arguments are erroneous though and, to that end, I await your reasoned evidence to show how any museum, statue, painting or sculpture could persuade an anti-Semite to reject this odious doctrine.

      • Herbie, if you wish to continue this discussion with me, you are free to contact me via email as my contact information is readily available. Meantime, I would be interested to hear some of your ideas on how to persuade an anti-Semite to reject this odious doctrine. I have made my stand perfectly clear. Since you suggested I try Twitter and Facebook, may I suggest you google Daniel Pearl’s last words. Thank you for reading my comments and feelings.