Kuper Stumbling Stones (JV)

Upon first glance, it is clear that the map featured in Feddes’ “Millennium of Amsterdam” is connected to the placement of the Stumbling Stones. This map, which uses a single black dot to represent ten Jews, was created by the Dutch government to assist the Germans in their plan of mass murder. Sadly, it is no surprise that the heavily dotted areas like the old Jewish quarter and the Transvaal neighborhood are home to many Stumbling Stones today. These ten by ten brass plated stones are each engraved with the names of victims to the Holocaust. Artist, Gunter Demnig, created the Stumbling Stones with the intention of giving each victim a private memorial. His motto was: “A human being is forgotten only when his or her name is forgotten”. This idea of forgottenness reminded me of the ambiguous Hanger 24 monument in Rotterdam. Unadorned with even a plaque for context, this monument has faded into the city’s background much like its Jewish history. Kuper writes, “The story that Rotterdam tells is of a city that never had anything to do with Jews but was shaped by the bombs of 14 May 1940” (223). 

While the Stumbling Stones in Amsterdam do provide more information than the Hanger 24 monument, they are still easy to pass by if not actively looking for them. In addition, these stones are meaningless unless the viewer is educated on the full history of the Holocaust. This history includes the Dutch’s active hand in assisting the Germans. For example, a German police officer wrote, “Concerning the Jewish Question, the Dutch police behave outstandingly and catch hundreds of Jews, day and night” (229).  Ultimately, victims cannot be properly honored if their full story is not told. It is not enough that we simply remember their names; we must remember their full stories. So yes, I believe that naming the victims on these Stumbling Stones is a move in the correct direction, but their memory cannot be fully honored if people are not educated on the Holocaust. Should this education begin with condemning Feyenoord’s anti-semitic chants? Or should this education begin with adorning monuments with historically accurate information? These are tough questions, but one thing is clear: we must start somewhere.

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