Through travel we can have so many different learning experiences. We learn about history, geography, culture, food, nature, wildlife, music etc. Most of these experiences are wonderful and create lifelong memories we cherish but some are more challenging and today I wanted to relate the challenging.
While out and about in search of a geocache, more about that in a later blog, I came across a unique memorial called Stolpersteine (see the picture below). Stolpersteine translated as Stumbling Stones is a project initiated in 1992 by a German artist called Günter Demnig.
A Stolpersteine is a small concrete cube with a brass plate, individually engraved with the name and details of an individual who fell victim to the Nazi regime, most of whom were deported to extermination camps, where they were murdered. These small, relatively inconspicuous plaques inlaid into the pavement, are a stark and poignant reminder that behind the unimaginably large numbers of people caught up in these atrocities, there are individual stories of tragedy and loss. And once you have encountered one of these memorials and understand its significance you begin to see them everywhere.
These stones are part of the worlds largest decentralised memorial with over 75,000 of these stones laid in countries across Europe, including Germany, Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary etc.
The picture below is of the two stones I first came across. They commemorate a Jewish brother and sister Rudolf and Mathilde Justitz who ran a jewellery shop in the city and lived at 104 Reinsburgstraße, Stuttgart. They were deported to Riga, Latvia in 1941 and were murdered there on March 26th, 1942 aged 65 and 60 respectively. You can read more about their family history via this link (German): Mathilde und Rudolf Justitz There are also Stolpersteine laid in nearby Degerloch, where their brother Otto and his family lived.
You can read some additional information about the Stolpersteine project via the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolperstein