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Subject:

Re: Odp: what value the past? -Reply -Reply

From:

"RUSSELL, Nick" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 30 Apr 2001 11:03:34 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (135 lines)

Nobody's questioning all that, you don't seem able to grasp the concept that
with NO value there is NO difference. You are imbuing a certain class of
site with a specific value.
Nick

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Barford [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 27 April 2001 16:14
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Odp: Re:Odp: what value the past? -Reply -Reply


Andrew Nicholson suggests that if we "take away the emotional baggage",  "a
concentration camp is just like any other site: its an industrial complex
with associated burials". I think that this attitude is losing sight of the
fact that (research needs of the academic community aside) the 'value of the
past' actually comes primarily from precisely that "emotional baggage",
i.e., the non-material aspects of the sites we are protecting. The
significance of the site for the public is not merely in its brick and
mortar content, but the feelings it evokes, the associations, the
reflections it provokes. A fibreglass Stonehenge in the middle of a
Salisbury shopping centre will not draw tourists away from the real thing
will it?

There are of course an awful lot of people, millions of members of whose
families perished in those concentration camps, who would not agree with
Andrew's rubber-stamp "just like any other site" assessment . Their
experience of a visit to these sites is by no means comparable to a tourist
visiting Stonehenge, the Tower of London, Fishbourne or indeed any
historical factory or industrial complex. This raises all sorts of questions
of the nature of "whose heritage?" which have to be seen in a much wider
(and intercultural) context. Another point about the majority of these sites
is of course that in the majority of cases the individuals who died did not
actually receive burial, their cremated and powdered remains were scattered
across the whole site and the surrounding areas in order to hide the crimes
that were committed there. In many cases the prison records do not even
contain their names. The landscape of the camp itself is their only
monument.

There are in fact quite a few factors which from (though not just) a
heritage management point of view differentiate the remains of a Nazi
concentration camp not only from "any industrial complex" but also from the
mass graves of "any other massacre site". I am only sorry that, to judge
from his posting,  Andrew Nicholson does not seem to perceive them.

The remains of these camps are a very sensitive problem and their management
requires much careful thought, discussion and consultation. We should be
aware that though they are protected by, these sites are not primarily
protected *for* the local community, but have a more immediate significance
to individuals and communities scattered all over the world. Many of the
latter would certainly find the remark made on this list - taken in and out
of context - highly offensive.

Andrew writes :
> David was simply taking the case that IF the past had NO value, then
> building a supermarket (of value to the current inhabitants) on the site
of
> a concentration camp (in this line of argument, with no value to the
current
> inhabitants) was a valid proposition.
Again, though that question "whose heritage?".  Taken in the wider context,
the "proposition" is in no way "valid", merely inflamatory. If this was the
case he was trying to make, I consider that the choice of the wording
"concentration camp" was singularly ill-advised and lacking in sensitivity.

I was however taking the exhortation > A supermarket on every concentration
camp< in the context of the whole posting in which it first appeared which
in fact contained several other remarks posing as slogans supposedly on
"what value the past?" but including for example one of the nature of "if
natural selection has created a food shortage, let's knock Darwin's house
down". It certainly seems to me difficult to take this remark in such a
context as "clearly supporting" the view that  > the past DOES have value,
and that its destruction, rather than preservation, is the argument which
should seek justification<, even though we can all I think agree with the
sentiment Andrew expresses.


Paul Barford




----- Original Message -----
From: <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 3:45 PM
Subject: Re: Odp: what value the past? -Reply -Reply


> >> If the past has no value then why not build a supermarket,
> >or whatever you
> >like on the site of every concentration camp.<
> >
> >Well, I would have thought the answer was pretty obvious. I
> >hardly think
> >that the remains of a concentration camp fall in the same
> >category as the
> >majority of 'normal' archaeological or historical sites and
> >landscapes.
>
> Take away the emotional baggage and, yes, a concentration camp is just
like
> any other site: its an industrial complex with associated burials. What
> differentiates it from any other massacre site?
>
> David was simply taking the case that IF the past had NO value, then
> building a supermarket (of value to the current inhabitants) on the site
of
> a concentration camp (in this line of argument, with no value to the
current
> inhabitants) was a valid proposition. In his posting he clearly supports
the
> view that the past DOES have value, and that its destruction, rather than
> preservation, is the argument which should seek justification.
>
> Andrew Nicholson
>
> SMR Project Officer
> Environmental Planning
> Dumfries and Galloway Council
> Tel: 01387 260154
> Fax: 01387 260149
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.dumgal.gov.uk
>
> This e-mail is communicated in confidence.  It is intended for the
> recipient only and may not be disclosed further without the express
> consent of the sender.
>

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