Wednesday, November 16, 2022

I have never heard of this before "Stolpersteine"

This makes me feel a little ignorant. Particularly since I am interesting in monuments to the past in Yugoslavia. These stones are heartbreaking. Here is part of a interview with a man who is trying to understand how various countries try to acknowledge a tragic past.. This is from Clint Smith's "Monuments to the Unthinkable"

By Christian Michelides, CC BY-SA 4.0,

One last thing - the image above is from Karlovy Vary. Karlovy Vary is the city Mark's (Jewish) mother fled at the beginning of World War II.

Here is an excerpt of an interview in the Atlantic:

Isabel: What are the lessons America can take from Germany about acknowledging and atoning for the harms of the past?

Clint: One of the most moving memorials that I encountered were the “stumbling stones,” an English translation of Stolpersteine. There are more than 90,000 brass stones spread across 30 different countries in Europe, and they’re typically placed in front of the homes, residences, synagogues, and schools where Jews and other groups were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, or where they last lived before they were sent to their deaths. I was talking with a Jewish woman I spent time with who lived in a home that had two stumbling stones in front of it, and she said to me, “Can you imagine what it would be like if you had this for slavery in your hometown, in New Orleans?” And I had a moment where I looked down at the stones and imagined what it would be like.

She said, “It would be packed.” And it’s true, right? Entire streets would be filled with stones. I think about what it would be like if we did something commensurate with that here. What would it be like if we had stumbling stones or markers in every place where enslaved people were sold or held or rendered captive? What might it do to our collective understanding of our history? Would we have such a distorted sense of what America has been and what it is if we were regularly reminded of what it has done?

Markers and stumbling stones are not a panacea by any means. But the thing about Germany is that these sites of memory are ubiquitous. There are so many reminders, everywhere you turn, of what Germany did, that it becomes an indelible part of the national psyche.

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