Ever wished to visit or view the Nation’s Conscience? Me neither.
Did you, as a Brit, know that we had a Conscience? Nope; me neither.
If you will settle back, I shall try and explain. Recall my post upon the proposed Holocaust Memorial? The one in Victoria Tower Gardens? Yep, thats the one.
Well, I had a think, and a bit longer think; and so decided to apply to speak during the Holocaust Memorial Inquiry; using my own Holocaust post words as a base. I said my piece last Wednesday. As an observer, my input may well be ignored by the Inspector, but at least I spoke, and was counted; in amongst the many who spoke against the proposal; including Westminster Council, the Friends of Victoria Park, heavyweights such as UNESCO; and many local residents; all desirous of making their contribution as part of local and indeed of national Democracy. The opposing side, in favour of this idea to somehow record the murder of Six Million Jews, were present as well, as can be seen from the many statements recorded; despite the fact that all the massacres took place in Germany, Russia and Poland.
But, we must get back to this idea that somehow, despite not really knowing what or why, we already have a Site of the National Conscience: almost by accident. In the Park, which is the target for building this £50- or £100-million Memorial, we have three memorials already. One is a statue to Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the Suffragette cause of Women’s Voting. Another is the Buxton Memorial/drinking fountain which commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire, and to the memory of MPs whom were involved in this purpose. We also nave a Copy casting of Rodin’s ‘The Burghers of Calais’, which is just a bit weird: mainly because the figures supposedly represent the surrender of the leaders of the starving City to the English armies which had besieged them for eleven months. How those defeated figures morph into part of Britain’s National Conscience is beyond me, apart from the theory that Queen Phillippa managed to get the leaders pardoned, instead of being executed. As the whole thing was done some eight hundred years ago; its more than difficult to determine: its bloody near impossible.
This weird idea that the Park is ‘The’ site, is partly political. There were originally twenty sites from which the Commission was supposed to choose from. It was only after a secret meeting in No. Ten, Downing Street that all these sites were discarded, and the Victoria Park site suddenly emerged as the ‘Chosen Place’.
The ‘Conscience’ twaddle? That emerged as part of the Architects’ evidence, and from no other source. Over the years, I have had a fair bit to do with architects; I recall these interludes mainly because I also recall the number of times that these discussions were also arguments. They were always concerned about how things appeared or looked; whilst I was more concerned whether the items meshed, worked and delivered. I also firmly believe that architects don’t actually live in this world; but rather exist inside their own Universe, where the visitors to their creations follow their ideal about how their visitors’ minds work: instead of the real world, which is a much more difficult world to traverse.
One final point about my statement to the Inquiry, linked above. Some fifteen minutes before my streamed statement via Microsoft Teams was due to begin, I received an urgent email asking me to delete one small paragraph. These words held my considered opinion of the wartime German Nation as a whole, and my belief that a fairly large proportion of the Krauts knew all about the Final Solution, the Death Camps, the slave labour and the Concentration Camps. The sentences:-
Some 99.9% of the parents and families of those Ten
Thousand ‘Kindertransport’ children perished in the ovens of
the Nazi Death Machine; that same Machine which of course
was allegedly never known about, never revealed, and never ever
discussed by a totally “innocent” German population.
The very same population who roared their approval during
the Berlin and Munich monologues from their idol Adolf!
But I was specifically requested to delete the whole paragraph. Funny —- Peculiar!