Avenge Us: Memorializing Heniek Wodislawski's Notes by Danyela Fonseca

Avenge Us

Yaakov Wodzislawski's My Revenge (2013) includes a section entitled "From the Memories of Heniek Wodzislawski (1923-2004)," which is an excerpt from Yaakov's brother Heniek's notes on his experience in Nazi-occupied Poland. The background image of this project's title shows Yaakov's inclusion of Heniek's notes in My Revenge. In his notes, Heniek provides details of his daily life, as well as the thoughts that loomed over his and his comrades' heads. This project proposes a design for a memorial to commemorate Heniek's resilience throughout his fight for survival. Throughout this presentation, you will find descriptions and explanations for various aspects of the proposed memorial design. The title of this proposed memorial is Avenge Us--a repeated statement in Heniek's notes.

Aerial View

Aerial view of proposed design
Aerial view with notations for size, materials, and shape

Star of David-shaped concrete

The Star of David-shaped concrete will be visible from the aerial perspective, and implied from the frontal perspective. The Star will be transformed from a derogatory symbol: “They assigned each worker with a Star of David and a number, engraved on a square can” (Wodzislawski 100). The panels, which sit atop the concrete, flow into and become part of the Star, reclaiming the religious and emotional significance of the symbol in a positive way.

The designated path (shown by the red dashed arrow) will “do ‘obvious work on the body’; [it] not only ‘direct[s] the vision’ to their [its] textual content, but [it] also direct[s] and control[s] ‘the vector, speed, or possibilities of physical movement’” (Blair 46, qtd. in Propen 85).

3 panels

The design choice for 3 panels is to allow a semi-enclosed space that mimics Heniek's repeated motif of 3 lines of a rectangle:

“We were standing in the small marketplace. We were organized in groups of five, creating three sides of a rectangle” (Wodzislawski 86).

“We had escaped in groups of three” (Wodzislawski 110)

Panels made of Granite

Granite endures over time. Propen states that “granite provides a durable canvas for…text” (92). Propen also notes that structures that are “composed of granite," are "afford[ed]...a weighty, imposing quality” (Propen 89).

Olive trees flanking back panel

Olive trees are symbolically significant for the nation of Israel and the Judaic religion: “Olive oil was used for lighting the great menorah lit in the Temple…The olive branch is long known and still used symbol of peace following the story of the great flood when the pigeon brought Noah back an olive leaf to show that the water were abated from off the earth (Genesis 8:11)…In the State of Israel, it is against the law to cut down living trees” (“Seven Species”).

Frontal View

Frontal view of proposed design
Frontal view with notations for size and text of granite wall

Question on each panel

Left panel: “Will we survive?” (Wodzislawski 94)
Middle/back panel: “What will become of us?” (Wodzislawski 87)
Right panel: “What will happen next?” (Wodzislawski 88).

Each panel’s question can be written in 3 languages: Polish, English, and Hebrew.

The middle panel may also have a Star of David inscribed, to further enhance the reclamation of the symbol as one of hope and victory.

The questions force viewers to think like victims--to wonder about survival, as well as to empathize with the victim.

The questions also act as heterochrony: Foucault defines heterochronies as "slices in time" (26, qtd. in Propen 89). Propen contends that "[h]eterochronies may represent indefinitely accumulating time,...or time in its most fleeting of terms" (89).

“[G]ranite…will indefinitely preserve and promote the message both through its imposing visibility and in the durability of its material” (Propen 93).

By having the last (right panel) question ask the viewer "What will happen next?" responsibility is placed on viewer to make sure the experiences are remembered and never repeated (Wodzislawski 88).


The substantial size will overwhelm viewer.

According to Propen, “[P]ower not only rests in [the structure’s] obtrusive size and imposing stature, but also in its ability to throw the viewer off balance” (89).

The viewer will undergo a physical struggle by looking up and around to view all 3 translations of all 3 panels.

The size of the structure and inscribed text will “draw visitors nearer in order to read, but then forces them away in order to fully experience the impact of its size” (Propen 92).


Peltzery factory in Częstochowa, Poland--where a majority of Heniek's narrative takes place.

“[M]emorials have an ‘agenda-setting function’; in other words… ’when a memorial[…]appears on the landscape, it is thereby deemed—at least for some, and at least for the moment—attention worthy’” (Blair 35-6, qtd. in Propen 111-2).

Works Cited

Propen, Amy D. Locating Visual-Material Rhetorics: The Map, The Mill, & The GPS. Parlor Press, 2012.

“Seven Species.” Wildflowers of Israel. http://www.wildflowers.co.il/english/sevenKinds.asp. Accessed 31 Jul. 2017.

Wodzislawski, Yaakov. “From the Memories of Heniek Wodzislawski (1923-2004).” My Revenge, edited by Sharon Gilad, translated by Tanya Rosenblit, Contento De Semrik, 2013, 84-112.

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