23 Peace Monuments
Using a Book as a Symbol
(or About Books)
Right click image to enlarge.
1523 - "Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam with Renaissance Pilaster," National Gallery, London (England). Oil & tempera on panel, 76 × 51 cm. On loan from Longford Castle. By German painter Hans Holbein the Younger [c1498-1543]. "In 1523, Holbein painted his first portraits of the great Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus [1466-1536], who required likenesses to send to his admirers throughout Europe. These paintings made Holbein an international artist." 1523 - "Porträt des Erasmus von Rotterdam am Schreibpult," Musée du Louvre, Paris (France). By German painter Hans Holbein the Younger [c1498-1543].
1621? - Book chest in which Grotius escaped in 1621, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Netherlands). From Wikipedia: "Hugo Grotius [1583-1645] was a Dutch jurist. Along with the earlier works of [Spaniard] Francisco de Vitoria [c1483-1546] & [Italian] Alberico Gentili [1552-1508], Grotius laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. A teenage intellectual prodigy, he was imprisoned for his involvement in the intra-Calvinist disputes of the Dutch Republic & imprisoned in Slot Loevestein / Loevestein Castle but escaped hidden in a chest of books. He wrote most of his major works in exile in France."In 1621, with the help of his wife & his maidservant, Elsje van Houwening, Grotius managed to escape the castle in a book chest & fled to Paris. In the Netherlands today, he is mainly famous for this daring escape. Both the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam & the Museum Het Prinsenhof in Delft claim to have the original book chest in their collection."
April 30, 1622 - Standbeeld van Erasmus / Statue of Erasmus, Square in front of Sint Laurens Church, Rotterdam (Netherlands). Click here for Wikipedia article about Desiderius Erasmus [1466-1536].
1878 - Naval Peace Monument, The Mall, Washington, DC (USA). Commemorates role of US Navy during the Civil War. Facing the US Capitol is Peace, a classical figure draped from the waist down and holding an olive sprig. The monuments's other alegorical figures are Grief, History & Victory. Grief is weaping, and History holds a book.
1931 - Statue of Erasmus, Erasmus Hall High School, 890 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City, New York (USA). "Cast from the 1622 original in Rotterdam (qv) by Hendrick de Keiser [1565-1621]), was given by an alumnus, Richard Young, and graces the school’s courtyard. Dedicated in 1931, the base is engraved with the words: 'Desiderius Erasmus, the maintainer and restorer of the sciences and polite literature, the greatest man of his century, the excellent citizen who, through his immortal writings, acquired an everlasting fame.' Originally called Erasmus Hall Academy, a private institution of higher learning founded in 1786 by Dutch settlers in Vlacke bos (flat woodland Anglicized to 'Flatbush') was the first secondary school chartered by the New York Regents. The clapboard-sided, Federal style building, was constructed in 1787 on land donated by the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church, designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, and was donated to the public school system in 1896... The Academy building, which still stands in the courtyard of the current school, served the students of Erasmus Hall for more than 200 years."
October 26, 1945 - Housmans Bookshop, Peace House, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London (England). "London's premier radical bookshop." "Founded by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) in the optimistic aftermath of WW-II to promote peace literature along with related issues of human rights, justice & the environment. Named in honour of pacifist writer & dramatist Laurence Housman [1865-1959] who formally opened its first premises in Shaftesbury Avenue." Has published Housmans Peace Diary (& World Peace Directory) since it was started by general manager Harry Mister [1914-2006] in 1953.
1971 - Prisoners of War & Concentration Camp Victims, Gladstone Park, London (England). Five figures sculpted by Fred Kormis [1897-1996]. He said, "They are a five-chapter novel, each chapter describing a successive state of mind of internment: stupor after going into captivity; longing for freedom; fighting against gloom; hope lost; & hope again." Vandalized on Christmas Eve 2003. One of 21 peace monuments named by the PPU website
March 22, 1980 - Georgia Guidestones, Elbert County, Georgia (USA). aka "The American Stonehenge." Four giant granite stones engraved with ten "Guides" or commandments in eight different languages setting forth the basic principles of a "one world order" with a unified world court of law where populations and reproduction are controlled, a unified "living new language," whose philosophical foundation is built on "spirituality" and man’s environmental responsibility to live in harmony with nature.
March 20, 1995 - Denkmal zur Erinnerung an die Bücherverbrennung / Book Burning Memorial, Bebelplatz, near Unter den Linden, Berlin (Germany). Close to the State Opera, a university & St. Hedwig's Cathedral. At site where Nazi book burning began on May 10, 1933. Designed by Israeli artist Micha Ullman. The underground memorial consists of a window on the surface of the square, under which vacant bookshelves are lit and visible. A bronze plaque quotes German poet Heinrich Heine [1797-1856]: “Where books are burned in the end people will burn.” In an open letter to city mayor Klaus Wowereit, a campaign group charged May 30, 2010, that fashion shows & other leisure events in the square insult the memorial. April 24, 2006 - "Der moderne Buchdruck / The Modern Book Printing," Bebelplatz, near Unter den Linden, Berlin (Germany). A stack of 17 books more than 12 meters in height (40 feet) and 35 tons in weight. Commemorates German writers, poets, and especially Johannes Gutenberg [c1398-1468], the inventor of the modern book printing process about 1450 at Mainz (Germany).
Date? - Universal Declaration of Human Rights statue, Ankara (Turkey). "The fact that the human rights statue in the centre of Ankara is a symbol of a long struggle waged by brave individuals against an often oppressive state - and the fact that it exists at all - says something. But there are limits and there are lines that it can sometimes be fatal to cross. 'No-one should be subjected to torture' says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Activists in Turkey have set up a museum to commemorate the unlucky ones. It was empty when I went there - an eery silence."
M E M O R I A L
October 25, 2000 - Mahnmal für die 65.000 ermordeten österreichischen Juden und Jüdinnen der Shoah / Memorial to the Victims of the Holocaust, Judenplatz, Vienna (Austria). Designed by the British artist Rachel Whiteread." The central memorial for the Austrian victims of the Holocaust. Also known as the Nameless Library. "Cast concrete, with the walls made up of rows of books, with the pages, rather than the spines, turned outward; this can be regarded as a comment on Jews as a 'people of the book' & the Nazi book burnings. On one of the walls is the negative cast of double-doors." See Winstone (2010), pages 132-3.
Date? - Erich Kästner Monument, Dresden, Saxony (Germany). "Erich Kästner [1899-1974] was a children's book author & political satirist in the 1930's. He wrote the book upon which 'The Parent Trap' was based & attended a book burning in Berlin [in 1933] where his own books were being burnt." Date? - Book Monument, Barcelona (Spain). Date, purpose & exact location of this monument have not been determined.
In Progress - "Big Book: Pages for Peace Project", Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, Groton, Massachusetts (USA). "In October 2004, eight fifth grade students started making a book filled with student literary offerings that would be accepted into the Guinness ,Book of World Records. Today, members of the "Bookmakers and Dreamers Club" ae well on their way to creating the world's largest book - and to focus its subject on world peace. Each page will be 12 feet tall by 10 feet wide. Hundreds of liters of ink will be required to cover 90-square feet on each of 500-double sided pages." The students recently received letters from Blase Bonpane, Howard Zinn, Danny Schechter, Leslie Cagan, Dahr Jamail, Lucinda Marshall, Kathy Kelly, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Cathy Hoffman, Sayre Sheldon, Helen Caldicott & Desmond Tutu. They have also heard from Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou & Martin Sheen, along with hundreds of everyday people.
2005 - Memorial Cairn, between Dunscore Kirk & the village graveyard, Dunscore, Dumfries & Galloway (Scotland). Memorializes Jane Haining [1897-1944], Church of Scotland missionary, who worked with Jewish children in Budapest (Hungary) & was killed at Auschwitz (one of only ten Holocaust victims from Scotland.)
October 22, 2006 - Nashville Holocaust Memorial, Gordon Jewish Community Center, 801 Percy Warner Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee (USA). Sculptor Alex Limor (whose parents were both holocaust survivors), Limor Steel, Nashville, created the memorial's centerpiece: A large bronze book with missing or tattered pages filled with silhouettes of nameless faces to represent the status of European Jewry. Also has memorial wall inscribed with the names of deceased Holocaust survivors and victims and an eternal flame. Two quotations on entrance panel: George Santayana [1863-1952]: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Edmund Burke [1729-1797]: " All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
November 14, 2007 - Statue of Mahatma Gandhi sitting & reading a book, Ariana Park, Geneva (Switzerland). A gift of the Indian Government to the City of Geneva commemorating the 60th anniversary of Indo-Swiss friendship. Inscribed "Ma vie est mon message. My life is my message." /// Another such statue at far right. Where is it? Eucalyptus trees in background?
May 22, 2009 - Sculpture of Books, Bonn Square, Oxford (England). "A sculpture in bronze by Diana Bell. Presented to Oxford by the City of Bonn... Shows two piles of books: Some of the spines of the taller pile have KNOWLEDGE, TRUST, FRIENDSHIP, UNDERSTANDING engraved on them, while the smaller pile has the German equivalents: WISSEN, VERTRAUEN, FREÜNDSCHAFT, VERSTANDIGUNG. Uunveiled by the Lord Mayor of Oxford Mary Clarkson & Bezirksbürgermeister of Bonn Helmut Kollig." Info courtesy of Peter van den Dungen October 13, 2016.
July 15, 2009 - Peace Monument, Kampala & Juba Road, Gulu (Uganda). To commemorate education’s importance in ensuring peace, The Dutch Embassy commissioned a sculpture conisting of three destroyed guns at the feet of a girl and boy reading a pile of text books. After speaking at length about education’s role in a post-conflict environment, the Dutch Ambassador, Jeroen Verheul, celebrated the sculpture’s unveiling by hosting a lunch for local community leaders. The books, Verheul noted, portrayed education as a pillar of knowledge, an instrument of reconciliation and a basis for moral building.
September 2010 - Statue of Sir Nicholas Winton, Railway Station, Maidenhead (England). "The 101-year-old Rotarian joined members of his club at the unveiling of a life-size statue in his honor. The bronze work by Maidenhead sculptor Lydia Karpinska shows Sir Nicholas sitting on a bench reading a book. The book depicts images of nearly 700 children - most of them Jewish – who he helped to flee from Prague (Czechoslovakia) to Britain on eight kindertransport trains between 13 March & 2 August 1939, ahead of the Nazi invasion. A ninth train with 250 children was due to depart on the day war was declared, 3 September 1939. None of those children survived." Please email your comments & questions to geovisual at comcast.net. Thank you.
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