Project “Stolpersteine”

The Maribor Synagogue, in cooperation with the ‘Prva gimnazija Maribor’ secondary school, Maribor Public Library and supported by the ZRC SAZU, initiated a project to enhance the memory of the Holocaust victims. This initiative was formed in line with the European efforts for preserving the historical memory regarding all victims of National Socialism within the period 1933-1945, and for the Holocaust – the largest genocide in human history.

Since the end of the Holocaust tragedy it has been our duty, particularly towards the generation of survivors, to keep alive the memories of the genocide horrors during World War II, especially the Holocaust. One of the basic messages is that all kinds of intolerance and racism should belong to the past.

Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino (the Institute of Contemporary History) in Ljubljana has at its disposal all the data about victims during the war 1941-1945. According to them there were 558 Jews amongst the Slovenian victims, 481 of them, including 392 Jews from Prekmurje, died in concentration camps.

The survivors are reluctant to remember that “the crematorium was burning day and night. It literally burned from the chimney stacks. New transportees arrived over and over again… In the barracks we had to line up completely naked, and a special group of officers carried out selections. They chose those weak and exhausted prisoners who were only skin and bones. Most of them had arrived long before us. They were loaded onto trucks and sent to their deaths – to the crematorium and gas chambers. It was necessary to make room for new transportees…”

The numbers and proportions are simply facts, and when having them in mind only, the victimisation of the Holocaust loses its sanctification and tragedy, which is hidden behind the loss of 6 million people and their life stories. From amongst this immense crowd, we need to extract certain individuals and return to them their names, faces, and destinies.

Such remembrance has taken place across Europe since 1994. It has been implemented by a German artist Gunter Demnig with his artistic project ‘Stolpersteine’ (stumbling stones). Following the principle ‘one Stolperstein for one name’, the project revives the identities of until recently forgotten Nazi victims. Data on individual victims are engraved into monuments in the form of standardized cobble-stones with brass plaques fixed onto them. Such cobble-stones are laid flush with the pavements or sidewalks in front of the last residences of the victims before they met with their terrible fates.

In January 2012, in order to commemorate members of the Maribor Jewish families Kohnstein and Singer on a symbolic level in the streets of our city, the initiators of the project provisionally placed ‘Stolpersteine’ at three locations: Ulica kneza Koclja 2, Ulica Borcev za severno mejo 2 in Nasipna ulica 68.

On this occasion the pupils of the primary school ‘OŠ Draga Kobala Maribor’ and the secondary school ‘Prva gimnazija Maribor’ prepared a cultural programme. The author of the project, Gunter Demnig, has installed the real ‘Stolpersteine’ in July 2012. The installation was financially supported by the Municipality of Maribor; this project was designed within the project ‘Shoah – Let Us Remember‘ and supported by ITF (now IHRA).

For more see www.stolpersteine.eu.

 


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