now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Gladstone Park memorial

The five figures of Memorial to Prisoners of War and Concentration Camp Victims have stood in the Dollis Hill park since they were presented to Brent Council in 1971 by sculptor Fred Kormis. But on Christmas Eve [2003] the sculpture was attacked by vandals, who decapitated four of the five figures.

The moving sculpture has now been entirely restored and stands proudly once again in the north west of the park, next to the car park--a spot chosen by Mr Kormis himself.

Background on the artist

Fritz Kormis (1987-1988) was born in Frankfurt and served in the Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War. He was held in a Siberia war camp from 1915 to 1920--his experiences there informed the memorial we see today in Gladstone Park.

When Hitler came to power, Nazi laws banned the Jewish sculptor from working and he so he fled first to Holland, then to England in 1934, where he adopted the name Fred.

After the horrors of the concentrations camps in the Second World War, he formed the idea in the 1960s of creating a memorial to prisoners of war and concentration camp victims to be erected in central London.

A site was never found, but his friend and the then-leader of Willesden Borough Council Councillor Reg Freeson suggested it would find a welcome home in the borough.

At the unveiling ceremony in 1971, Mr Kormis described the sequence of figures. He said: "They are a five-chapter novel, each chapter describing a successive state of mind of internment: stupor after going into captivity; longing for freedom; fighting against gloom; hope lost; and hope again.

(Text taken from Brent Council's press release)

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