April 19, 2007

A Mural for Remembrance


Conmemorative Mural

On the 19th. of April, 1943, the uprising of the ghetto of Warsow began and, on another 19th of April, but this time in 1997, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires a commemorative mural was placed, in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

This piece consists in a structure of 1,80 meters (height) by 1,20 meteres (width), consisting in two crystal glasses enclosing several pages of books of prayers saved from the ruins of the concentration camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz, as well as from the ghetto of Warsow. It was unveiled by Cardinal Antonio Quarracino thanks to the inspiration of Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. This work also remembers those killed in the attacks to the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires (1992) and the Jewish Community Center (AMIA) (1994) . It was placed originally, in the inner chapel named after Saint Theresa and innaugurated in the presence of Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize awardee.

The mural also encloses a score from the Kadish (prayer for the dead) and the covers of two books: one of tales in idish found amongst the rubble of the AMIA building and the other from the Book of Samuel, found whilst searching for survivors hours after the explosion at the Israeli diplomatic seat.

This memento is completed by a copy of the Haggadah from Pesach rescued from a concentration camp in 1942 and donated by Myriam Kesler, daughter of one of the victims.

To showcase was made made with 18th Century techniques regarding foundry, chiseling and polishing with agate stone. The corners of the frame show symbols of the Menorah, The Tree of Life, The Start of David and The Tables of the Law.

Shortly before he died in February 1998, Quarracino wrote in a letter: ”It will be soon a year since the unveiling of this worthy monument inside the Cathedral to which I have invited all Jews to cover their heads if they wish so.(…) The definite place of the Mural will be close to the resting place that I am longing for inside the Cathedral, to keep pleading for brotherhood as I have done all my life.” When the Cardinal died, the mural was removed to the inner chapel named after the Virgin of Luján, next to the grave of Quaracino and in the opposite section where the remains of the General Juan José de San Martin lie.

In 2004 a replica of the mural was inaugurated inside the Waterunser Kirche in Berlin.

Argentinians have lived through many unfortunate events of violence and intolerance. But we can celebrate the presence of this mural of peace, pluralism and integration, showing the characteristics of our country in the scenario of inter-confessional relations and the Jewish – Christian dialogue.

The last book written by José Ignacio García Hamilton is called ”Why countries grow”.

Translation: María Pensavalle