@terrific_tintin and I went out tonight to clean up small memorials called Stolpersteine (tripping stones), metal paving stones commemorating victims of the Nazi regime. It’s been 80 years since the 9th of November, 1938, the Reichspogromnacht / Reichskrietallnacht (Pogrom Night / Crystal Night). Over 1400 public and private places of Jewish citizens were destroyed, about 400 people were killed nation-wide in just one night. Deportations of thousands of Jews starting November the 10th, thus the Reichpogromnacht marks the transition from discrimination to systematic persecution and soon systematic killing of Jews. Stolpersteine are embedded into the sidewalks in front of the living houses, Jews lived before deportation. It’s a way of remembering people who lived among others. If you don’t look for them, you almost don’t notice. But when you do, they are everywhere.
My roommate and I started our walk at the Stolperstein closest to our home, one in remembrance of Marta Reichmann, née Jacobowitz, born 1878, deported on 11th July, 1942, murdered in Auschwitz. It was hard to find, but it’s been surprising what a bit of soap and metal cleaner could do to make it shine again.
We walked along two long streets in total, were touched by cleaned-up sights, of which many had candles and some even flowers, washed those who were not taken care of yet, eventually spending two and a half hours outside. We talked to a few people, some just said hi, but an older man brought his wife into their apartment and then came back down to the streets. He thanked us for cleaning the five-teen Stolpersteine in front of his house and said: “We moved here fifty years ago and never had the chance to meet these people.” Please remember, to not forget is not about feeling guilt, it is about respect and understanding where discrimination can lead to. The holocaust started with people being taken out of their homes.