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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Stumbling Stones of Aldekerk

One of the reasons we moved to Germany in 2010 was because Wendy, my wife, and our daughters have German citizenship. They are citizens because Wendy's grandparents, Arthur and Margaret Mendel, fled the Nazis back in 1938, and German law says that those who lost their citizenship between 1933 and 1945, along with their descendants, can have it back.

The story of Wendy's grandparents and their families is heartbreaking and fascinating. It's a story I hope to write down someday. In the meantime, I made this short video about Wendy's grandfather's home town of Aldekerk, and the installation of Stolpersteine, or Stumbling Stones, in front of the family house there. The Stolpersteine, of which there are thousands throughout Germany and in some neighboring countries, are a project of the artist Gunther Demnig, who places the little brass sculptures in sidewalks in front of houses from which Jews and other victims of the Nazis were taken or where they were murdered. When we stumble upon them in Berlin, which is quite often, sadly, we always stop and read the inscriptions.

Up until June 2012, there were no Stolpersteine in Aldekerk. Now there are two groups of them, one for each of the two Jewish families who called the small town their home until the Nazis took their homes and many of their lives away from them.

Sometimes the number of memorials to the Holocaust in Berlin can be overwhelming. And sometimes we might ask, Isn't it enough yet? The answer is clear: It will never be enough.

Music: Requiem for Victims of East Japan Earthquake (sanmi) / CC BY 3.0
and Brendan Kinsella playing  Bach - Aria Variata, BVW. 989 - Variation No. 3 from under a public domain license.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jonathan, I'm from Aldekerk (grew up there and left at 23 but frequently come back to see my family there). Fair play to you for pulling off this short vid. doc.! All the best to you and yours. Alex.