Today’s edition of The Architects’ Journal (AJ) gracefully announces that Tszwai So, director of Spheron Architects, has been declared the winner of the “international competition to design a pan-European Memorial for the Victims of Totalitarianism.” Mr. So, named a rising star in British Architecture in 2016, is widely acclaimed as one of the most illustrious younger talents of European architecture in our time. Our team feels certain that he would be the first to wish to be apprised of an ulterior political program behind a seemingly neutral architectural project which will now be exploiting his reputation, and his firm’s, as well as his actual design, in promoting a political project that is vastly more controversial than meets the eye at first acquaintance.
Mr. So and Spheron Architects, like the other contestants, were most likely unaware that the sponsor of the competition, the Prague-based Platform of European Memory and Conscience, known for short in Eurocircles as the Prague Platform, is the prime European engine for the far-right movement of World War II history revisionism that is increasingly becoming known as Double Genocide. That phenomenon was recently among the main points of a New York Times article by Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent Rod Nordland concerning the “Genocide Museum” here in Vilnius, which has close ties with the “Prague Platform” in the pursuit of Double Genocide politics in the European Union.
These politics are those of the East European far right, that seeks to mitigate Nazi genocide by declaring it “equal” to Soviet crimes, and to pursue a variety of ruses, including defamation of Holocaust Survivors who were anti-Nazi resistance heroes, the concurrent glorification of Nazi war criminals and collaborators, issuance of declarations (most famously the “Prague Declaration” of 2008), and the violation of freedom of speech via new laws that criminalize dissent to these views. Such laws have been passed in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and most recently, Poland, among others (see Defending History’s Freedom of Speech tracker section).
The specific aspect being “snuck in under the radar” in the new Brussels project is the so-called “equality of victimhood,” enshrined in the Prague Declaration. But on closer inspection this turns out to be one of the more cunning semantic devices in the whole Double Genocide movement. For example, as horrendous and criminal as Soviet deportations to Siberia of a minority of citizens (of many ethnicities) from any of the Baltic countries were, this crime is not equal to the genocide of around 95% of these countries’ Jewish populations on the basis of their being born Jewish. They are two very different crimes now being mushed into equivalence by projects that lure unaware talents such as the eminent architect Tszeai So and his Spheron Architects firm. Withdrawal from the project is the only honorable option, even if, as Mark Twain is supposed to have said, it is easier to fool a man that to convince him to admit he has been fooled.
By successfully exporting the bogus “mix and match” model of victimhood, with its far-right ulterior motive of obfuscating the Holocaust and mitigating Nazism, this project in Brussels would represent a further success for the far right, anti-liberal, history distorting political and intellectual forces behind the Prague Platform.
Defending History calls on authorities in Brussels to cancel this project as soon as possible. The eminent architect needs to be informed that he has been the victim of an East European ultranationalist movement, rooted in the worst era of the continent’s history, disguised as an innocent project of commemorating all victims equally. Genocide and deportation must not be “unified” in the far right’s postmodernist mush, least of all in public space right in the capital of the European Union.