Munich rejects ‘stumbling stone’ Holocaust memorials at Jewish leader’s request


BERLIN (JTA) — Heeding the objections of a local Jewish leader, Munich is introducing a new form of Holocaust remembrance as an answer to the ubiquitous “stumbling stones” memorials that dot sidewalks in front of sites across Europe from which Jews were deported.

The first two small plaques and markers with photos and biographical details were installed Friday at apartment buildings in the capital of Bavaria, recalling the lives and fates of Jews who once lived there.

“With this new form of commemoration, Munich is taking its own path towards an honorable and lasting remembrance,” said Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish community of Munich and Bavaria, according to news reports.

Knobloch for years has opposed the installation of “stumbling stone” memorials — small brass plaques generally installed on sidewalks in front of places from where Jews were deported. She considers their placement on the ground, where people tread on them or they get dirty, an insult to the memory of Holocaust victims. Knobloch herself survived World War II in hiding with a Christian family in Germany.

Initiated by the Cologne-based artist Gunter Demnig, the Stolpersteine plaques include basic information about the individuals. His nonprofit asks for about $140 to cover the cost of creating and setting the stones. According to his website, more than 50,000 “stumbling stones” have now been installed across Europe, often with descendants of Holocaust victims present. Other cities and communities in Germany welcomed the memorial stones.

Supporting Knobloch, the City Council voted three years ago to reject the project, and their stand was backed in December by the Bavarian Administrative Court. Now the city reportedly has earmarked $175,000 for the new project.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter was on hand last week for the installations of the new memorials.

The first is dedicated to the philologist Friedrich Crusius, who was put to death because of mental illness; the art gallery owners Paula and Siegfried Jordan, who were shot in 1941; and to Franz and Tilly Landauer — Franz was the brother of Kurt Landauer, prewar president of the FC-Bayern soccer club, who fled to Switzerland in 1939 and saved his life. All of his siblings were murdered by the Nazis.

Another two plaques and markers are to be installed by Aug. 5, according to news reports.

Meanwhile, the opposition association, Stolpersteine for Munich, has installed a few stumbling stone memorials on private property.

An app called Munich stumbling blocks provides a virtual memorial to Holocaust victims from the city.

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