06 May Stumbling Stones
My son discovered something on the pavement of a nearby street to the City Park we were heading to have some playground-fun. Two stumbling stones there were. That’s what he spotted from a few meters distance. We all stopped, he started to stroke the shiny brass surface of the plaques. And then came the inevitable question from my daughter: ’’Mom, what’s this?’’ What would you say for a three and a six year old? Of course, you wouldn’t start talking about the victims of National Socialism, the Holocaust: persecution, ghetto, deportation, concentration and extermination camp, genocide. Murdered Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally and phisically disabled, communists..whoever opposing the system. Part of our history and the history of our own family within. Hmm.. ’’Not for the child’’-that’s my Grandmother used to say. I agree. The details can wait a little more. But I told them the idea behind these commemorative brass blocks -art of the German Gunter Demnig- to make them understand the point: one stone, one name, one person. The stones are always there, where those people had their last homes. They are gone forever. But according to the Talmud a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten. So that’s why we are made to stumble on more and more European streets from Hungary to Germany, Austria, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Norway, Belgium and the Nederlands: to remember.