Bond of remembrance

Denkmal "Band der Erinnerung" - Oliver Dietze

Denkmal "Band der Erinnerung" - Oliver Dietze

Denkmal "Band der Erinnerung" - Oliver Dietze

A contemporary sculpture and memorial on the new synagogue

Memorial of names to commemorate Jewish victims of Nazi tyranny who lived in the former Territory of the Saar Basin. Also honouring further Jewish victims who are not named on the memorial because their personal fate is unknown.

The federal state of the Saarland and the City of Saarbrücken, in consultation with the Saarland Jewish Community, jointly decided to erect a contemporary sculpture and memorial on the new synagogue forecourt in Saarbrücken created in 2018, as a central place of remembrance for the whole of the Saarland. This sees the culmination of the years-long project to create a sculpture of names memorial commemorating the Jewish victims of Nazi tyranny who lived in the Saarland, and to keep the memory of their deportation and murder alive for future generations.

The project was funded in equal parts by the Saarland and the City of Saarbrücken.

Among the 98 proposals submitted in an open anonymous artists’ competition in 2019, the design by the artistic group Mannstein + Vill Berlin emerged as the winner.

One of the prerequisites for the awarding of the commission was that the design should feature the names of all approximately 2,000 victims of the Holocaust known based on currently available historical research. The winning design translates this in an aesthetic, filigree and unpretentious manner.

About the sculpture

Stainless-steel panel with a list of the 1,928 victims

The sculpture – a transparent, “undulating” screen with a total surface area of eight by three metres – comprises a wavy, slightly tapering, walk-along 2.60-metre-high stainless-steel panel that, if unfurled, would be 15 metres long. It consists entirely of the characters and numerals that make up the victims’ names and dates of birth as well as their dates and places of death, cut out using laser technology.

This realisation of the list of names of deported and murdered Jewish women, men and children from the former Saar Territory is directly linked to and in a sense completes the Saarland Holocaust memorial “The interrupted forest” by Ariel Auslender created on Rabbi Rülf Plaza in 2013. Initially, the plan was to commemorate the names of the victims on the ensemble there, but it was not possible to realise this idea at the time.

The sculpture, conceived as a permanent and visible memorial in front of the synagogue (in contrast to the invisible memorial by Jochen Gerz inaugurated in 1993 in Saarbrücken’s Castle Square), implicitly confirms, without stating specifically, the concrete number of victims from the Saarland and with connections to the Saarland known up to 2021.

Who is included in the list of victims?

Municipal Archive of the City and Saarland Heritage conservation Office recorded victims

The victim data were researched and recorded in 2019 and 2020 by the Municipal Archive of the City of Saarbrücken and the Saarland Heritage conservation Office, with the support of the Saarland State Archive, and drawing on the list of victims documented by the Saarland Jewish Community and preparatory work by the DenkmalMit! association. This resulted in a list of 1,928 records of identified murdered victims up to the beginning of 2021.

These data are reproduced on the memorial in alphabetical order, separated by two vertical bars.

The list of victims not only includes those murdered in the concentration camps or deported “to the East” with an unknown destination and never seen again. The memorial also commemorates those who died as soldiers or resistance fighters in exile, those who perished as a result of the hardships and ordeals of flight and having to live in hiding illegally, as well as those for whom suicide offered the only escape from persecution.

For many of these victims, it was not possible to determine an exact date of death. Where no subsequent date evidenced by documents is available, their deportation date was taken as their date of death.

Those compiling the list of victims also had to decide who should be considered a “Saarländer”.  Many of the victims were not born in the Saarland. Some were immigrants from Eastern Europe. A new wave of immigration came in the wake of the onset of the persecution of Jews in the German Reich. After careful consideration, the researchers decided to count all Jewish citizens as Saarlanders for whom evidence exists that they spent at least one year in the then Saar Territory. Children born in emigration were also included.

Research into possible further victims is ongoing, however. Consequently, the memorial does not represent a conclusive list of all victims, but rather a preliminary status quo.