Architecture and Memory
Should Historical Buildings Used for Onerous Purposes be Preserved or Not
Name: T. Gjikoka
Course: World History II
Architecture plays an essential role in the traces of history, and in most of the cases, it remains unique for cultural and social representation of past into present. A single monument or architectural work possesses values closely related with peoples??™ lives and is a corner stone for the cultural values as well as for the shaping of peoples identity. A monument or a building is associated with a certain historical memory related to its location, purpose, operation, structure but even the social characteristics that it represents.
In this paper, I shall argue the importance of historical buildings used for onerous purposes, which represent dark periods of the past in two countries, Germany and Albania, thereby creating links between the past and the present. Looking at the cases, I will explain the reasons as well as the operations in the past and present relationship of Auschwitz Concentration Camp built by Germans, and the blight prison in Albania Spac built for the regimes dissidents. I shall demonstrate that these buildings are essential for the reconciliation of people??™s past with its present and should therefore be preserved as monuments.
In addition, what are Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the Bright Albanian Prison Spac How do they represent the past What is the importance of the relationship between their past and present For what purpose are they protected today What is their link with peoples??™ life and their social representation According to my research materials and all articles read for this topic I stand on the pro side of the theme.
Yes, Historical Buildings should be preserved and protected because they have a great importance for their uniqueness as well as for their representation of past into present in most real and alive manner. In order to get the clear picture, I wanted to make a description of all the questions listed above for my paper examples, Auschwitz Concentration Camps established by Germans and for the notorious prisons of Spac and Burrel in Albania.
Before the start of World War II, September 1939, in the town of Auschwitz, in Poland, started the establishment of Nazi Concentration Camps, as Poland was under the occupation of Nazi Germans. The establishment of Auschwitz I Birkenau was made by the decision of Heinrich Himmler on April 27, 1940 and the first prisoners, a group of 728 Poles mostly political prisoners, came on June 14, 1940 to suffer their condemnation. Auschwitz was considered as an excellent location because of its strategic position on the centre of Europe, its access on a major railroad junction, but mostly because it was in a reach area, full of large coal deposits. Mines and heavy work places were another good way for Germans how to use and punish politic prisoners, and not only this but making large capitals and money from their labor. However, by this time in Auschwitz I Birkenau camp were not suffering their sentence only Jews, there were even German criminals who served as a help for the army and the inside prison police to supervise Jews.
This prison was functioning as a normal institution till January 20, 1942, when the Wannsee Conference decided to apply the ???Final Solution to the Jews Question??? plan, a month after started the systematic extermination of Jews.
This was considerate as the Black Jews Day, the day that their race and ethnicity would suffer and tremble the waves of eradication of the so-called not the Arian Race form Adolf Hitler for not less than 7 years regularly.
Thousands and thousands of prisoners came every day on Auschwitz Concentration Camps. In one year time their population was overlapping the limits of the camp, which capacity was 20.000 prisoners. Auschwitz II-Birkenau, 1941, with a capacity of 100.000 prisoners, was established 3 km far from the 1st one, and as not enough the 3rd and last one in 1943, Auschwitz III, was built for not more than 3 years. Gas Chambers started to fire and kill Jews in mass and in most macabre ways. Hunger , diseases, crime inside the camps were shortening Jews residents lives inside the concentration camps, and these served in the coming years as a justification of German Prosecution, that there was not a plan of Jews extinction, but they get just the sentence that they merited. Because Poland couldn??™t act for the preservation of its citizens as being under invasion of Nazis, the Soviet Union was trying to break down the genocide that Adolf Hitler was implying to the Jews.
There were no rules or civil rights, no moral code or human spirit, no honesty or dignity, there were only dead eyes lying hopeless on the Auschwitz Birkenau dark streets. The number of Jews inside the camps was 95% of the overall number of prisoners. However, one thing is sure, the number of victims on Auschwitz Birkenau has never been evidenced or found by the Soviet Union during their liberation of the last survivors of Death Camps, there were a lot of death registers missing.
It is clear that the extinction of Polish people was in huge measures as we can not imagine, but one thing is still a mystery through the ranges of genocide libraries of the world, that what would be the limit of such macabre extinction lead by Nazis if there would not be a defeater on the other side A famous expression of Adolf Hitler in one of his speeches on front of Germans was: ???We first intend a small piece of our dream, extinction of Jews as not being the Arian Race as we do, than we need to fulfill our dream by the extinction of worldwide races as the next step ahead, in order to live happy and unique as God blessed us as Arians???. The end of such evil ended in January 18, 1945 with the last liberation of Jew by Soviet Union Army.
According to the remembrance of the Auschwitz and to its protection as a monument there have been a lot of versions pro and against, but what remains important is that the majority of the people asked want Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp alive. Members that suffered the condemnation or the blame as being Jews want it to remain as it is, to be preserved and protected by the government of Poland for the memory that it carries on every brick, on every wall and every floor washed up with the innocent blood of a race, blamed with the stigma of not being Arian Race.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewsky, Chairman or the International Auschwitz Council, as well as one of the survivors of Jews extinction on Concentration Camps said for the preservation of Auschwitz Birkenau Camp in its 66 Remembrance Day, January 18, that: ???We people do preserve castles, paintings, ancient cities, old relics etc as very special or important things of historical traces, so why don??™t we want to protect and even renovate such buildings
???You may say that a place of such cruel murder should vanish from the face of the Earth, but it is unprecedented for me as its member as its sufferer. Auschwitz-Birkenau is like a continuous sting of remorse that torments humanity, especially Europe. It is a sting of remorse for every person who is indifferent to the suffering of others. That??™s why it is important for us and I understand even the voices that call for its devastation??? says Mr. Bartoszewsky, ???but these voices are like when a man commits evil and tries to obliterate its traces. If we let the memorial cease to exist, we will take a great burden on our conscience we will trample upon the testament of the victims.???
Spac prison or Albanian Auschwitz as it was called in Albania is my second example of the research, which will give to the reader a clear picture of what it was and how it acted throughout years in the Albanian Communist Era. Spac prison was built in 1968 with the justification of the Interior Ministry and the Defence Ministry as it was needed for dangerous criminals. However, this thing never happened in Spac prison from the day of its inauguration till the end of it. A number of 600 political prisoners came into it removed from the Elbasan Camp of Obligatory Work to suffer their condemnation as enemies of the system and the people. Communist Party was making a lot of reforms in Albania during its first years of governance, but this was not such a sweetable thing for Albanians so as a consequence of this they started to oppose the system and blame its??™ program. Here takes initiation the blame for the opposers of the system and the social stigma that was infected on the society foundations.
As a similar way of Auschwitz, Spac was build in an area that was reach with minerals, like copper and pyrite (hard sand where if found the sulfuric acid), but unique in its geographical position. Spac prison was located in a hole circled by the mountains where the sun and sky light had not too much access. Weather conditions were extremely bad and the environment surrounding the prison was almost all the months of the year covered with snow, so the suffer of the prisoners was not from the gas chambers or from the killing walls here, it was from the bad and extreme working galleries combined with weather conditions. The regular norms of work were very hard to be finished by the end of the day, and if the norms were not reached by the prisoners, certain punishments were waiting for them, like standing outside the cells of the prison all night lidhur on the trees that were there or beat all night in the isolation rooms.
After 5 years sufferings and tortures prisoners of Spac were organizing a revolt to overthrough the system as well as the dictatorship of Enver Hoxhas??™ governance. On May 21, 1973 Spac prisoners did their historical demonstration which in a way for them was a day of freedom even inside the prisons??™ walls. This demonstration was defeated with the help of the army leaded by Fecor Shehu, the higher exponent on the Albanian Interior Ministry, who organized the operation till the end. In the end of the 3rd day of protests and fights, 4 people were condemned with capital sentence punishment, 200 arrested and 100 of prisoners went under another judgment and took another sentence with 1700 years jail.
Even though defeated very rapidly, this was the one which is remembered even today as the only one demonstration against the totalitarian system held by some people who were suffering and fighting in the wings of death, whom later would make the history. A number of 1200 prisoners was reached by the years 1975 in Spac Camps and as the number got higher and higher it was not easy for guard to rule the prisoners anymore, so the only way safe was through torture and fearful genocides. Guards of the prison were under a pressure and train, physically as well as psychologically, in order for them to be prepared for the inside war of the camp. The law and the constitution written by Communists themselves had on its lines the strange and sinful way of punishing innocent people even for a single word.
Crime by that time was considered even the hater or comfortless reforms that were impeached into society with the power of fear, murder and dictatorship. It was hard even for me to find information about the function of the prison because all that existed evidenced and written by that time was destroyed and even burned. This information that I used as references was published by some of the famous politicians and figures of Albania that suffered their condemnation on Spac prison and everything was stored from them in small booklets and pieces of letters, as their own testament in the case on not return at home. Mr. Spartak Ngjela, one of the best diplomats and politicians of Albania has suffered some years of his life inside Spac, Mr. Sabri Godo, famous historian and politician too, Mr. Fatos Lubonja famous analyst and writer.
Because today Spac prison is a historical monument and is under the preservation of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, there have been certain reforms and reparations on 7 buildings, used as prisoners??™ camps, which stand heroically in the highest of Rreshen Mountains. It has been a plan of the reconstruction of the whole prison areas, but the foundation and the tender for this plan have not pass through the Economy Ministry till today. It is seen that the indifference of Albanian Politicians and the governance does not express interest in such cultural values. Only a few of them have visited such notorious prison till the fall of Communist Era. However, all the political condemned that have suffered there their sentence for the blame that Totalitarian System offered to them have taken an initiative in order to lend some money to keep it safe through the harsh wings of time.
Mr. Fatos Lubonja visits this prison very often and in an article published at Gazeta Shqiptare on 2009 he expresses the indifference of the leadership parties for such important buildings. In addition, he has reported to the Ministry of Culture that in these areas is using the resources a businessman for his own interests and he has destroyed the walls and uniqueness of Spac Prison. Some words written on the walls of Spac, with a red color, remain shadowy even nowadays saying: ???We wind up on the Camp our red and black flag with the twist head eagle on the middle, but without the Communist star above, painted by the master Mersin Vllashi, and we the prisoners of Spac have broken down the system inside our limited world, own camp???.
With the fall of Communist Era in Albania, all the political prisoners on different prisons were left free. This freedom was for them as a dream and some of them lost the control of life as coming from an isolated world in a totally different world outside of those bloody walls. Spac Prison served for not less than 20 years and inside it suffered the sentence more than 1200 prisoners many of them killed and tortured for sporadic reasons of for not reasons at all.
To end it up, the final words for such buildings like Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp established in Poland by the Nazi Germans and Spac Prison build in Albania for political dissidents should be a certain law in order to preserve and protect them as memorials which carry on strong moral absences for societies and nations. Different prospective points of view given by German, American and Albanian politicians or historians gives a clear picture for me to create an idea that authenticity is also a testimony on the roots of a memorial or historical building, and it combines both imagination awakened and shaped by the originality of walls and bricks. Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as Spac Prison are like a continuous sting of remorse that torments humanity, especially Europe. It is a sting of remorse for every person every individual who is indifferent or to the suffering of others. If we allow these monuments and historical buildings to disappear from the Earth surface, we might be opening a way for a similar evil to return.
The revolution of industry is still remembered by the old factories, architectural works which stand proud for their presence in the world;
The art upheaval is touchable by the pictures, poetries, songs, transmitted and used even today; The blind ages of Communism, Fascism and Nazism that frightened the entire world are remembered by their Concentration Camps, prisons, murders, massacres and mercilessness. We put a flower as mercy and sorry in a place where somebody died, don??™t these hundreds and thousands of people deserve to be remembered, not left behind, don??™t their damned death place deserve to be preserved as the place where took place the last time of their tortured breaths, bloody faces, injured bodies. Yes it must be preserved.
???To think about a bad past memory is nothing unless you continue to remember it??? Confucius, (Chinas most famous teacher, philosopher, and political theorist, 551-479 BC)
Ranki, V. (1997). ???Holocaust and the Law???. Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature. ( pp. 216-244). University of California Press
In this article the author shall argue the importance of buildings and monuments that has certain representation traces on the history of a country, a nation or a society. It is also mentioned the juridical part of different constitutions for the preservation of historical buildings and monuments. Here is explained in details why sufferers of Auschwitz Birkenau Camp supported nowadays this camp, what is its goodness that it represents. The article gave to me a strong idea how to be more focused on the support of my topic, and how to express well the preservation of historical buildings.
Appelfeld, Aharon (1988) ???After the Holocaust??™ in Writing and the Holocaust,ed. BerelLang, Holmes & Meier, New York, pp. 83??“92.
In the book that Aharon Appelfeld wrote was emphasized the factor of art and writings during and after the Auschwitz time. There was a period of time when the flourishing of the articles emerged the literature market with their information and their important message on it. The message was that Nazi leader??™s degeneration and the abidance people had on their laws was a dictatorship way of treating citizens. The society experienced the shock of cultural and moral values after the Auschwitz death, and it was than where they ashamed themselves for their blindness.
However, in this article was shown even the today??™s point of view that Germans have when they see these terrible camps as representation of their history. They say that this is the blame of their destiny, the one that they can not discharge forever, the one that they deserve as a shock to not repeat the past.
Agamben, Giorgio (1999) Remnants of Auschwitz. The Witness and the Archive, ZoneBooks, New York.
Agamben practically and specifically describes the physical and mental degeneration treated in Auschwitz for the human body at the Concentration Camps (death camps) that cannot be imagined by peoples??™ minds. Physical tortures and malnutrition diseases spread all over the camps are horrific (described on pages 42-43.). ? It is hard to
see the juncture why the Nazis would do so many inhumanities for people to suffer so much in the gas chambers rather than spending a bullet. This was the loss of personal dignity that Nazis had by that time and? a sense of inhumanity was their goal too, so in a way or in another this kind of death could achieve their murdering egos toward their own goal, extinct of Jewish people!
Alderman, H. et al. (1992) An agricultural strategy for Albania. Washington: World
During the start of the communist system representation in Albania a series of reforms was imposed on society and politics as well. The agitation and propaganda politic followed the steps of a dictatorship era, starting with the blame of people who were against the ideology and ending with the deprivation of words even in the family (Alderman, H. et al. 1992.). These article starts with a strong message that Socialist Party used for the campaign, agricultural strategy, which followed up with the other non-precedent reforms.
Petzet, M. ?????™In the full richness of their authenticity??™??“? The? Test of Authenticity and the New Cult? of Monuments,??? Nara Conference on? Authenticity in relation? to? the World? Heritage Convention,? UNESCO,? ICCROM &? ICOMOS, Nara (Japan), p.? 89.
In these article is included the main focus that UNESCO, the protector and investiture organization in the world for archeological and cultural monuments, which has on such monuments its support and interest to protect monuments that represent such dark time or bad history fragments of countries. There exist laws on all countries of the world initiated by the UNESCO directors that protect these monuments with the power of laws. In the article is emphasized the importance that they have on different aspects and fields of life, social, cultural, and moral qualities.
Ndoja, A. (2008), ???Ne perkujtimoren e Aushvicit Shqiptar, Spacit???. The Day of the Albanian Communist Genocide. Publisher ???Gazeta Shqiptare???, (pp. 5-8)
In this article the Albanian writer, Aleksander Ndoja, has expressed its sufferings on the Spac prison, and the reality that existed which could not be expressed well than from the mouth of a tortured member this notorious prison. Here are included facts that have happened, for example the demonstration of May 21st, 1973 all the works, daily routine, tortures but even murders. The author was on the pro side of supporting these buildings as monuments and as parts of history which must be remembered and preserved for the honor of those people who suffered inside it. Mr. Ndoja is part of the members council of Spac prison, who fight every day for the tender of its reconstruction on the gates of Culture Ministry, whose leaders stay in silence which gives to me the perspective as they don??™t want to save their own crime traces.