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Press Information published by the International Auschwitz Committee


International Auschwitz Committee honours the pianist Igor Levit

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As a result of current events the International Auschwitz Committee is honouring the pianist Igor Levit with the Statue B - the "Gift of Remembrance".

The statue represents the letter B in the inscription "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" (work makes you free) above the Auschwitz main gate. The prisoners who made the sign deliberately inverted the letter B when the SS ordered them to manufacture the sign. For the camp prisoners this act of defiance was a sign of their human dignity and resistance in face of the permanent everyday murder and hatred propagated by the SS. Since 2010 the survivors from Auschwitz have been awarding the statue as an honour and distinction for commitment opposing anti-Semitism and right-wing hatred, and promoting tolerance and dignified life together in democracy.

The Statue B is based on an idea by the French artist Michèle Déodat. The statues are made by Volkswagen trainees. So far 25 statues have been awarded. The recipients include Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal President Steinmeier and Sigmar Gabriel as well as Pope Francis, the British heir to the throne Prince Charles and the Austrian President Van der Bellen. The most recent recipient of the award was the Mayor of Zwickau, Pia Findeiss.

In Berlin Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee commented on the award to Igor Levit:

“To this day, for the survivors of Auschwitz the Statue B conveys the message that even in times of the greatest need and desperation, you cannot be forced to give in to anti-Semitic hatred. Especially in view of their own memories and the upcoming 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, the survivors are all the more appalled and deeply disturbed by the worldwide eruptions of anti-Semitism and right-wing extremist hatred. The International Auschwitz Committee has been following Igor Levit’s commitment with great admiration and approval. We recognize his clear and unmistakable stand and consider him an important ally. As a human being, an artist and a European, Igor Levit opposes anti-Semitism and right-wing extremist hatred with courage, creativity and a lust for life, and he defends the values of democracy. He speaks openly about the fear he feels since he has personally received death threats. Nevertheless, Igor Levit is not prepared to let himself be intimidated by this fear and threats from racist forces.

The International Auschwitz Committee is honouring the human being, the fellow citizen and the artist Igor Levit, whose personal stance and commitment shine out in Germany and the world, encouraging people to uphold and protect the values of democracy.”

The “Gift of Remembrance” will be presented to Igor Levit at a small ceremony on Sunday 12 January in Berlin.


For further Information

Christoph Heubner

Executive Vice President
International Auschwitz Committee
Phone ++ 49 (0)30 26 39 26 81