Kuper: Stumbling Stones Reflection (ZC)

The city of Amsterdam will forever have to live with the choices made by its citizens and leaders during World War II. Though cities can heal, decisions that live in the past are forever frozen in history. The map outlined in Feddes’ work is an example of how a decision as horrendous as the betrayal of the Dutch Jews can be immortalized. This incredibly detailed map, already in the city archives, was provided to the Germans to aid in their efforts to search for and capture the majority of Amsterdam’s Jewish population. The decision to assist the Germans was deemed a necessary act of self-preservation. We are served with reminders of this unfortunate truth throughout the city of Amsterdam by way of these stumbling stones. Miniature engraved bricks corresponding with each black dot on the map as seen in Freddes’ book. A reminder of the deadly impact of the map, by a life-sized version laid out throughout the city.

While reflecting on the meaning of the stumbling stones, it becomes obvious that this memorial would be practically invisible to the untrained eye. Though the engraved stones are laid out throughout the entire city, the stumbling stones would easily go unnoticed to anyone who was not actively looking for them. This could also represent a deeper meaning, as memories of the atrocities that occurred in Amsterdam are hidden so well throughout the city. Another example of this is in the presence of the “Big Three” soccer teams in the Netherlands, which still exist today in a very large-market capacity. During the war, clubs like Ajax were forced to expel Jewish members to continue operations in both a business and an athletic capacity. Therefore, the existence of these soccer teams is another gentle, yet painful, reminder that the existence of the teams, and the road itself in which the bricks were laid, was preserved on the back of a betrayed Jewish community.


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