UNESCO adviser speaks against Holocaust memorial in London park

The concept for the Making Memory UK National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre was born in 2015, but a planning application is still being considered by Westminster City Council.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
September 12, 2019 06:11
1 minute read.
Victoria Tower Gardens, London

Victoria Tower Gardens, London. (photo credit: JUSTINC/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

 "UNESCO seems to have taken a position against" a planned Holocaust memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, London, said Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations Dr. Shimon Samuels in a press release.

The concept for the Making Memory UK National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre was born in 2015, but the planning application is still being considered by Westminster City Council.
Royal Parks, a charity, described the gardens as a "highly sensitive location in planning and heritage terms," insisting that “the structure will dominate the park and eclipse the existing listed memorials which are nationally important in their own right.”


The park is currently home to three other memorials.


A member of the "Save Victoria Tower Gardens" campaign claimed that “The scale... is deliberately obtrusive because it’s intended to be shocking and attention-grabbing” and that the memorial should be moved to Westminster's College Green or the Imperial War Museum.


"The memorial is designed to honour the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and all other victims of Nazi persecution, including Roma, LGBT and the disabled," said Samuels. "The planners argue that they will take up 27% of the green space currently in the park...Its propinquity to the British Parliament aims to focus on the need to sensitize the public and their MP’s to the dangers of bigotry, prejudice, hate and violence against the other."


The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the advisor to UNESCO, has objected to the location since the project "would interrupt substantially the park's view of the Tower and Palace," and two lines of trees may not survive.


London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has supported the project and a new design has been presented to "accommodate planting adjacent to the fence."


A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reassured that, “The proposals have been developed with great sensitivity to the existing context and character of the gardens."


"It is clear that a Holocaust memorial cannot become subject to a debate in the guise of the environment...UNESCO, on the one hand, has a declared interest in Holocaust Education," said Shimon. "It can not, on the other hand, be abused as an obstacle to this Holocaust Memorial...Our Centre urges a clear response to the media which has already placed the issue at UNESCO’s doorstep...We call on you, Madam Director-General, to take appropriate and rapid action."


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