Munich introduces new form of Holocaust remembrance to replace ‘stumbling stone’ memorials


BERLIN (JTA) — Munich is introducing a new form of Holocaust remembrance, as an answer to the ubiquitous “stumbling stones” memorials that some vehemently oppose.

The first two small plaques and markers with photos and biographical details went up on 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,” Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish community of Munich and Bavaria, said, according to news reports.

Knobloch has opposed the installation of “stumbling stone” memorials, small brass plaques generally installed on sidewalks in front of places from where Jews were deported. Initiated by the Cologne-based artist Gunter Demnig, the plaques include basic information about the individuals. His non-profit 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.

But the stones never found favor with Knobloch, who considers their placement on the ground, where people tread on them or dirt falls on them, an insult to the memory of Holocaust victims. Knobloch herself survived World War II in hiding with a Christian family in Germany.

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Supporting Knobloch, the City Council voted three years ago to reject the project, and their stand was backed by the Bavarian Administrative Court in December 2017.

Now, the city reportedly has earmarked $175,000 for the new project.

The installation of the new memorials this week was attended by Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter.

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, pre-war 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 August 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.