Studio Daniel Libeskind

The Wheel of Conscience

Halifax, Canada


1055 Marginal Road
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Halifax, Canada



Completion Date


Project Brief

The tragic story of the M.S. St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany that the Canadian government turned away in 1939, is represented by The Wheel of Conscience. The wheel is driven by gears — symbolic of the gears of a ship’s engine and the gears of a cynical bureaucracy. On the rim of the large wheel is the description of the tragedy of the M.S. St. Louis. It is surrounded by the map of the world displaying the ship’s route on the cylinder. On the reverse side of the memorial are etched in the metal the names of all the passengers.

The Wheel of Conscience is fabricated of steel. The 4 prominent gears on the front with interlocking teeth allow the wheel to be turned by an electric motor. For the safety of visitors, a pane of glass is placed over the gears. The words HATRED-RACISM-XENOPHOBIA-ANTISEMITISM are applied in relief to the face of the gears. The large wheel is moved first, by the smallest and fastest rotating gear of HATRED. This small gear transfers its force to the next larger gear of RACISM which moves a little slower. Then the force of RACISM turns the yet larger gear of XENOPHOBIA which moves yet even slower. Finally, the 3 gears combined, move the largest and most prominent gear of ANTI-SEMITISM. The rotating gears fracture and reassemble the image of the ship at set intervals.

The Wheel is on display at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Pier 21 is a National Historic Site which was the gateway to Canada for one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. Studio Daniel Libeskind worked with Fabricators Soheil Mosun Limited and Graphic Deisgners at David Berman Communications