The Pillar of Shame

To forget is to kill! The victims of Srebrenica may only be one people with one religion but they stand for one huge betrayal of humankind. The Pillars of Shame will be a metaphor for the betrayal inflicted upon them by the United Nations and a constant warning to anyone who might work for the UN in the future.

The Plan: build two 8-meters tall bright white letters consisting of 16,744 shoes (representing 8,372 victims). The letters (»U« and »N«) will be scarred by three huge bullet holes filled with 200 shoes taken from mass graves in East Bosnia: an unforgettable monument to the oblivion of Europe’s nights of shame. At the same time, it will serve as a weapon for the media showing the enormous guilt of the Srebrenica genocide that the UN bears.

Forensic recovery work in a mass grave at Srebrenica.


16,744 shoes will be cast into white concrete and integrated into the steel structure.

The holes will be filled with 200 shoes taken from mass graves.

The sculpture is a response to the absence of decency shown to the surviving relatives.

The sculpture’s location and those (Western) politicians and generals whose names will be tainted by the memorial will be chosen by the survivors themselves.

»Today many people still believe that if the world had only known about the Holocaust they would have done something against it. Two years in Bosnia have taught me otherwise. Had there been pictures of Auschwitz in the world press, the world still wouldn’t have acted.«

David Rieff

Catalogue The Pillar of Shame

»Let us hope that the aged and mature people of Europe will be able to remember not just the days of glory but also the nights of shame of their own history.«

Bogdan Bogdanovic

A mountain of sadness

In a record time of only 40 minutes, more shoes were collected than were needed. Every single pair of shoes not only represents a victim but also the determination of someone alive today to finally hold the United Nations accountable.

What is left of 8,372 killed individuals? An image that travelled around the globe: the Mountain of Sorrow. The material that would be used for the Pillars of Shame was piled up in front of the Brandenburg Gate: Photo of the day in many international newspapers together with reports on the UN’s role in the Srebrenica genocide.

»What shocked most people was the UN’s inability to grasp the immorality of its own actions in continuously trying to mediate between murders, rapist and their victims.«

David Rieff

Remember genocide

16,744 shoes were collected from across the world in order to commemorate the 8,372 victims. Ten thousand people donated their shoes for a cause directed against the United Nations, amongst them the Ambassador of Bosnia Herzegovina to the UN, 150 celebrities such as football player Emir Spahic, director Jasmila Zbanic and Head of the Berlinale Film Festival Dieter Kosslick as well as entire nursery schools (see below).

Shake things up – Become an accomplice!

Björn Höcke has praised the Center for Political Beauty as a »terrorist group«. Get close to the action and become an accomplice to a terrorist organization so far sadly recognized only by Höcke, Erdogan, and the Free State of Thuringia! As an accomplice you will make an invaluable contribution to inciting public unrest in the service of aggressive humanism. Nowhere else will you receive more unrest and dissent for every donated Euro.

Thousands of people responded to our call to slip messages directed at the UN and German society into the shoes: Shoes as a modern form of messages in a bottle. The huge amount of messages is still waiting to be digitalised.

»In reality, this is the only thing we took from Srebrenica: a cosmic feeling of abandonment.«

Emir Suljagić


Various languages

FAZ Mahnmal für Srebrenica – Die Witwen klagen an

taz »Säule der Schande« für die Opfer

Al Jazeera Srebrenica’s lessons for the United Nations

3sat Schuhe für Srebrenica – Ein Künstler erinnert an das Massaker

Associated Press Memorial of 16,000 shoes blames UN for not preventing genocide

Reuters 15 years after the Srebrenica massacre, artists in Germany build 'Pillar of Shame'

Berliner Zeitung Ein Mahnmal der Schande Srebrenica: »Das moralische Grab Europas«

Berliner Morgenpost 16.744 Schuhe erinnern an Genozid in Srebrenica

DW Säule der Schande – Das Mahnmal eines deutschen Künstlers

BZ 16.744 Schuhe erinnern an Massaker

Tagesspiegel Ein Mahnmalstreit: 16744 Schuhe. Eine „Säule der Schande“ mitten in Berlin

Berliner Zeitung Die Schuhe der Opfer

Spiegel Online 40.000 gedenken der Opfer von Srebrenica

Tagesschau (20 Uhr) Schuhberg für Srebrenica in Berlin

Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.000 Schuhe in Berlin

Balkan 24 Interview mit Dr. Christian Schwarz-Schilling

n-tv 15 Jahre nach Srebrenica

Spiegelfechter Offener Brief an den UN-Generalsekretär (Ruch)

Klartext Magazin Der Mord unter dem Schutz der UN

20 Minuten Tausende gedenken Srebrenica

MW 16.744 Schuhe gegen das Vergessen

Neues Deutschland Vom Versagen der Vereinten Nationen

Reuters Gedenken an Srebrenica

The Guardian What stands in the way of Bosnia reconciliation

Deutsche Welle The Pillar of Shame

Today's Zaman Monument to ensure Bosnian genocide is not forgotten

Le Nouvel Observateur Il y a 15 ans, Srebrenica

Scientific debate

Gerhard Schoenberner Ein Copyright auf Schuhe? Denkmalsdebatten. Ein Rückblick auf 2010, in: Gedenkstättenrundbrief 158 (12/2010), Stiftung Topographie des Terrors

Olivera Simić 'Pillar of Shame': Civil Society, UN Accountability and Genocide in Srebrenica, in: Transitional Justice and Civil Society in the Balkans, Olivera Simić, Zala Volčič (ed.), Springer, New York 2013. (order here)

Bosnian press

Download: Pressespiegel 1, Pressespiegel 2, Pressespiegel 3

All available online-articles of the Bosnian coverage