Friday’s lecturer was a distinguished, and thoroughly British, structural engineer who had worked on all the great English Heritage listings. Out of all the case studies he projected, what struck me was his outfit. Accepting that it was a tad cold in the room, he wore a very formal heavy suit with a maroon vest and even had attached a gold pocket watch chain. His whole appearance was very colourful, which is how I came to notice that pinned to his label was a red and black poppy.
My grandfather’s occupation required him to frequently travel and these were two photos he took sometime in May of 1948. The first is the otherwise unremarkable skyline of Geneva, Switzerland but he had typed on the back of the photo that the League of Nations’ headquarters building (Palais des Nations) was located at the extreme right of the horizon line. (I believe the old League of Nations’ HQ building, Palais Wilson, is on the extreme left of the horizon line.) The second photo is of a then recent WWII cemetery in Arnheim, Holland, filled with wooden crosses marking the graves of fallen American soldiers whose bodies had not yet been sent home, or their grave markers made permanent with a stone cross.
Today in the US, Amistice Day is known as Veteran’s Day due to the events that occurred between the League of Nations building and this cemetery in Arnheim.
Please see my previous posted photo of a Hungarian WWI monument-like memorial, and here for the post explaining it.
The cemetery at Beckford’s Tower in Bradford, previously posted, struck my eye because of the incredible swirling clouds and its location on Lansdown Hill overlooking the city of Bath.
It reminded me of this last photo, which I grabbed off Wikipedia’s Photo of the Day a while back, and which features the cemetery in New York City that that grandfather is buried in.
It would appear Bath has fewer people to bury and fewer buildings to house them in than New York City.
‘Tis the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution today. Although this does not relate to Bath, the Hungarian DPs Budapest and Szentes created interesting posts, and so I thought I could post some photos of Budapest taken last year.
As a tourist, I thought Budapest was one of the most beautiful and polite cities in Europe. As a conservationist, I always thought Hungary, above all other places I’ve visited, had the most interesting and honest conservation program in place in regards to their Soviet Era history.
Not being Hungarian, I reflect more on the Hungarians’ modern conservation and memorializing efforts than on their historical sacrifices. When minor damage (such as shrapnel or bullet holes) occurs to stone-clad buildings, the cost of restoration can be too great to re-clad the façade with new stone. Also, merely covering over the holes with cement or plaster only works on similar material structures (plaster to plaster restorations in St. Petersburg). Besides, the damage is historic and often equally or more valuable than the original building. Restoration against the damage is dishonest to the structure and indicates a willingness to forget the history that caused it.
The two options that remain are preservation and conservation. For the most part, the surviving bullet-riddled structures in Berlin chose to preserve their damaged history and leave the holes to weather as a reminder of the events there. (Below, left)
However, right in back of the Hungarian Parliament building, I found this interesting conservation of bullet holes memorial to the 1956 revolution. (Photo above, right: I may have the wrong building but I believe it was at the base of the old Supreme Court Building, now the Museum of Ethnography). This arresting conservation of (what I take to be) a damaged stone façade with inverted bullet holes and a small 1956 memorial plaque tucked away neatly to the side really is more moving than the honest preservation of decaying Berliner bullet holes. Perhaps I’m wrong, though, I don’t know. (I cannot read Hungarian so I do not know if this is simply an invented memorial, but I’d like to think they were emphasizing the bullet holes.)
Admittedly, some Soviet Era structures, which were a blight to the Hungarian cityscapes, have been removed or altered and treated much the same way as those buildings treated their plot predecessors. However, unlike most former Communist bloc nations, many Hungarian Soviet Era monuments were conserved, such as the one in Independence Square. If memory serves me, this monument commemorated those who died liberating Hungary from the Nazis. It is prominently in the center of the city in a main square, opposite the MTV building and several other embassies. The only altercation, I believe, was the removal of Russian name plaques at the base.
Monuments in Hungary are very interesting because they do not always denote triumph and thread a thin line between monument and memorial. Below is a Hungarian WWI “monument,” which although set up as a conventional monument is somewhat striking in its subject depiction, since as an American, I’m used to seeing a bronzed “doughboy” march happily home or see a mournful but proud roster of English names killed in action.
Two other interesting Hungarian preservation and conservation observations were a bullet-hole in back of the central speaker’s box in the the Parliament building’s main room resulting from an assassination attempt, and also the bent cross atop a crown, which became Hungary’s most identifiable symbol.
Budapest also bears the distinction of one of the finest Gothic-Revival structures in Europe for their Parliament building, but as it was a design competition, Budapest also built the second and third place winners (at a smaller scale and for different functions) in back of the first place Parliament design. It’s a great place to visit, and a heck of a lot bigger than Bath.