Standing incongruously amidst the graves and memorials of the Jüdischer Friedhof Krems are three wooden bookcases. This library was created ten years ago by artists Martin Guttmann and Michael Clegg as a memorial to the destroyed Jewish community of Krems, Austria just an hour west of Vienna.
The artists created the bookcases in the approximate shape and size of grave stones. The glass door fronted bookcases contain a carefully curated library of books on Jewish history and philosophy in German, English and Hebrew. Visitors are encouraged to borrow books, add to the collection or contribute to the library fund.
According to Martin Guttmann:
“The most important issue here that once upon the time there was a Jewish community here and it had a synagogue and the Jewish community doesn’t exist here anymore and then there is a question of so what happens then with this place; does that mean that it will have to be forgotten, does it mean that it has to be abandoned; and the answer is: not necessarily, but in order to put life into it you really need a special kind of involvement and sometimes art can really bring with it the kind of involvement that creates things like that.”
The restored 19th century cemetery also has another memorial to the local victims of the Nazis—a 140-foot long metal sculpture with the names of local Jews murdered by the Germans during World War II or shipped to death camps.