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  • If you recognized the name of this camp as "the one from Schindler's list," you're a winner! Unfortunately, nothing remains except this striking memorial and many mass graves. Actually, we learned that Schindler's List wasn't actually shot in the camp, as it's a very hilly area, and we wouldn't want actors, cameramen, etc. to have to actually walk up hills or anything. However, we did see a few areas in Krakow where the movie was shot, which was really cool, but disillusioning, as few of the locations in the movie match historical events. Even Schindler's office wasn't Schindler's office. Lame.
    Anyway, I wish we had gotten to spend a bit more time at this place, as I thought the memorial was very statuesque and lovely. I tend to gravitate toward the more abstract, but I think this sculpture is so huge and so symbolic that I didn't feel like I was being forced to feel something. When memorials are representational, they are telling you what to think, what to feel, which can actually have an undesired effect. In my opinion, an example of this is Nathan Rappaport’s Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto in Warsaw. The front of the memorial shows several muscular men holding torches and almost ripping through the stone, reminiscent of classical Greco-Roman sculpture. On the back, there is a much smaller picture of thin, decrepit, broken-looking men kind of huddled together in a line. The front represents the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the back represents the starving and oppressed people of the Ghetto. Although this memorial does glorify and idealize the fighters, it in turn makes the everyday man in the Ghetto look weak and passive. In fact, all of the people in the Ghetto were heroes in their own way and all of the people in the Ghetto were starving and sick. This memorial makes a distinction between the fighters and the common people as if the fighters were these buff G.I. Joe guys with torches and AK-47s that were better than everyone else, when that's just not true.
    In the Płazów memorial, there is a representation of human figures, but you aren't really sure who they are supposed to be. Are they victims of the camp? Or are they the people left to grieve? And, what is that giant slash going through their chests/arms supposed to represent? The fact that we have these questions is a good thing, because it means we are forming a dialogue with the piece, pulling from our own personal life experiences to form individual memories along with the memory the piece presents to us.
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