This week was one of the most important in the life of the Tel Aviv-based sculptor. After 12 laborious and exhausting years, at long last his project is almost completed: At the end of October, the monument that Karavan planned in memory of the gypsy holocaust during the World War II will be dedicated. “This is the most problematic project I’ve ever had,” says Karavan, in the German capital. “I started it before I turned 70. This year I will be 82. Because of it I was in a hospital in Israel. We thought it would take three years. Who ever imagined it would continue so long? Who even thought that I’d live that long?” (via The Roma Holocaust memorial that wasn’t built in a day – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper)
- The site is made up of a pool of water, in the center of which is a triangular stone with a flower at its heart. Once a day, the stone will descend to below ground level and come back up with a new fresh flower every day. The pool will be surrounded by stones inscribed with the names of several dozen camps where gypsies – Roma – were murdered. The project’s cost is 2.5 million euros.
- The water in the pool provides a reflection of everything that surrounds it – including both the German flag and the European Union flag flying on the nearby Reichstag building. “A person who stands here will see a reflection of any person who is standing next to him or opposite him – and it will look to him as if he were buried in a pit,” Karavan explains.
- In the background, visitors will hear the voice of a violin, recorded by a gypsy musician for the purpose. “One note, not a melody. Like a train creaking on the tracks. The sound will be very weak, to the point where you think it doesn’t exist except inside your head.
- “This isn’t a monument,” he continues, “but rather a memorial site. An homage. A monument is for wars and generals.” In any case, like the large memorial for the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe – and a smaller one, for the persecution of the gays and lesbians in the Holocaust – Karavan’s gypsy memorial is located in the heart of Berlin. More precisely: at the edge of the Tiergarten park, at the place closest to the most central and important building in the city: the Reichstag, the main building of the German parliament.