March 27, 2019
First, let me pat myself on the back just a little — today is Thursday and I’m writing a post about something I did yesterday. I hope this is the start of a new blogging habit. (I finished on Monday, April 1.)
Recently a former classmate of mine, Rob Levinson, invited me to join him and his family at a stone laying ceremony to honor a couple of his relatives who died in the Holocaust. I later learned he was referring to the “Stumbling Stones” (Stolperstein) I’ve seen often in Stuttgart sidewalks, including a couple right across the street from where I live. These stones are placed in front of homes that were taken from Jewish families who almost always were sent to concentration camps. They list their birth date, day and place of deportation, and normally date of murder. They are very sobering reminders of the many victims of the holocaust. More about them can be found here:
The little town of Bruchsal is just over half an hour from Stuttgart by train. I got there about 9 am and had some time before meeting Rob, so I walked to the Schloss and Schlossgarten first. Below are some pictures of the town:
After arriving at the hotel, Rob and I had some time to catch up (at least a little, considering how long it’s been since I’ve seen him). At about 1100 we met up with the other families who’d been invited by the town for the event. In all, there were 5 families being commemorated. There were many relatives from Israel, some from Holland, and a number across Germany; the Levinsons were the only Americans. We walked to a Gymnasium (high school) for two hours of presentations (in German of course – I really need to learn it faster). There were a few speakers for each family, including one family member for each and some students who had done the research on the families. The slides that accompanied the speeches allowed us to get some information from the presentations, and the traditional Yiddish music was very good.
After the presentations we went walking around town to the five locations of the former homes where the Stumbling Stones would be placed. This was the best part and very moving, especially when Rob and his family said Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) after their family stones were laid. I hadn’t realized until that day that the man who designed the stones also installed every one himself (~70,000 – but you know that if you read the article from the link above). Naturally he’s the man you see in the pictures below.
Last but not least – dinner with the Levinson family and I headed back to Stuttgart.