“Libeskind tells stories with iron, steel, and glass,” said Ohio Governor John Kasich as he introduced architect Daniel Libeskind at the unveiling ceremony of the Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial on June 2. The designer of the monument and the child of two Holocaust survivors, Libeskind said, “I live in the shadow of the Holocaust.”
Similar to Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, a theme of “tears through building material” pervades this monument. Beginning at one end of the memorial, a fractured granite path leads to the signature bronze symbol, which stands 18 feet tall. “The bronze sculpture invokes the image of a book. However, this sculptural book has a split down the middle to reveal the six-point star,” said Michael Ashley, a Senior Associate with Studio Daniel Libeskind.
Located on the south lawn of the Ohio Statehouse, two limestone walls flank the granite path. The wall on the left juts away boldly with a Talmud inscription: “If you saved one life, it is as if you saved the world.” The other side of the monument has a pair of broken benches that speak again of a schism. All of the materials in the memorial resemble those of the Ohio Statehouse building and its bronze monuments.
The bronze book achieves an incredible sense of dynamism as each surface twists and turns, leaving no two surfaces parallel. As one walks around the sculpture, it looks as if the book is moving. “The break in the book opens up toward the sky,” said Libeskind. The stainless steel structure on the inside of the six-point star contrasts with the bronze. Each piece of bronze has its own patina that is pieced together into a cohesive whole. “Libeskind worked hard with Zahner Metal Works to get the right patina for the bronze,” said Ashley.
At the unveiling ceremony, Leslie Wexner, chairman and CEO of Limited Brands, implored the audience, “Tell your story.” As such, the tales of two Holocaust survivors are engraved upon the bronze sculpture. Schisms found in the book, the limestone benches, and even the granite pathway are juxtaposed with images of hope, such as the quote on the white limestone and the six-point star’s gesture toward the sky. In many ways, this project comes as much from Libeskind’s heart as from his hand.