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Berlin memorials recall deaf Shoah victims

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BERLIN (JTA) — Several new "stumbling block" memorials throughout Berlin recall deaf Jews persecuted in the Holocaust.

Several members of this nearly forgotten sub-category of victims were remembered this week with the installation of the bronze plaques, which were privately funded. They were set into the cobblestones in front of buildings where Holocaust victims lived before being deported.

Gunter Demnig, a German artist, developed the concept of the memorials, which have been installed in cities throughout Germany and in other countries.

A major memorial dedicated to deaf Jews is unlikely, the director of Germany’s Holocaust memorial said Wednesday.

Uwe Neumaerker, director of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, said deaf Jews were "a small minority among many others" persecuted during the Holocaust, so a separate memorial is unlikely. But "we would like to see knowledge about them increase," he said at the presentation of a new book on the subject.

The book, "Overcoming the Past," published in English by the Signum Verlag in Seedorf, grew out of a conference on the history of deaf Jews in Nazi Germany hosted by the Humboldt University in Berlin and organized by Mark Zaurov, president of the Association of Deaf Jews in Germany.

At the recent installation, neighbors stopped to watch and to talk — with the help of a sign language interpreter — with Zaurov.

One woman, Michaela, wanted to know in which apartment in her building the Jewish family had lived.

"If you ‘stumble’ on these stones, you think about what happened," she said.
 

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