THE MONUMENT AGAINST FASCISM, 1986
1 lead–clad column with aluminium structure – 12 m x 1 m x 1 m, 1 text panel, 7 tons
Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz
In 1979, amidst the rise of Neo-Fascism the city of Hamburg initiated public dialogue about the construction of a monument against fascism. In 1986 via an international competition Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz’s proposal was selected.
Installed in a busy public square the monument is a 12 metre-high column with a perimeter of 1 metre square and clad in lead. Residents were invited with a text, translated in seven languages, to ratify a public statement about fascism by engraving their names with the metal pencil provided directly onto the surface of the monument.
“We invite the citizens of Harburg, and visitors to the town, to add their names here to ours. In doing so we commit ourselves to remain vigilant. As more and more names cover this 12 metre-high lead column, it will gradually be lowered into the ground. One day it will have disappeared completely and the site of the Harburg monument against fascism will be empty. In the long run, it is only we ourselves who can stand up against injustice. »
By engraving, gouging and hammering signed messages, opinions and commentaries, members of the public engaged with the dynamic of the project. When one accessible part was covered with inscriptions, it was immediately sunk into the ground. After seven years of progressive descents, all that remains visible are the top of the monument now level with the ground and the text panel.