Maciej Tomaszewski • Open Form Memory.

Architectural Representation of Memory of the Holocaust


The thesis Open Form Memory aimed to examine and identify different attitudes and measures through which architecture is used to represent, produce, shape and preserve memory of the Holocaust, with a particular reference to the memorials’ historical relation to their sites, located in the urban fabric or in the rural areas. It sought for the similarities and differences in architectural language used for translating memory in a physical form. Besides it, an important issue was the durability of a meaning that certain memorials may or may not be able to convey. This research’s aim was therefore also to understand how the concept of the ‘longue durée’ can be understood in the physical form of a commemorative structure as well as to foresee a possible future of old and new memorials.

The investigation of thesis problems and research questions relied mainly on the existing literature review on the subject, author’s personal visits to most of the analysed sites and archive research. In order to deepen the understanding of the architecture and memorials’ functional side a set of architectural drawings and schemes is used as an essential tool. For each one of the twelve case study memorials a system of drawings was prepared through which all the structures can be put in comparison in order to search for similarities and differences.

The choice of the memorial structures was dictated by several conditions. First one was already mentioned geographical differentiation. The other prerequisite that characterized most of the chosen cases was the availability and the amount of the existing academic literature. Most of the memorials chosen for analysis in this research are either lesser known or relatively newly built, so that the already conducted researches have not yet exhausted the topic of their analysis. On top of that, the researcher has personally visited eleven out of thirteen case studies. The personal experience of the spatial design of those memorials was invaluably helpful in analysing their architecture in a deeper and more meaningful manner. Additionally, the architecture of the memorials still remains a marginal part of the Holocaust study. Besides that, what is noticeable, most of the major studies on the Holocaust memorials, also those located in Poland, were conducted by non-Polish academics. Therefore, the point of view of a Polish national may hopefully be an interesting addition in the subject. By virtue of those qualities behind the chosen examples as well as the general will to explore this not yet exhausted subject, presented thesis hopefully adds to a number of related existing theoretical writings not only in relation to the memorialization of the Holocaust but also the architectural representation of memory in a wider scope.


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