Stolpersteine in Bremen: Hier wohnte…

Parkallee 44: After
Parkalle 44, Bremen: Julius, Anni, and Egon Bamberger fled to Switzerland in 1935, to France in 1937, and finally to the USA in 1941. Friedel Bamberger was humiliated and disenfranchised and took her own life in 1940.

When you’re in the final phases of writing your doctoral dissertation, it’s pretty easy to become totally absorbed in your own work and lose perspective on everything else.  These past few months, all of my energy has really been focused on finishing my PhD.  Sure, I use running as an emotional and physical outlet, but it is ultimately also a very self-absorbed sport.  I found myself wanting to devote time to something bigger than myself.

Ein Stein. Ein Name. Ein Mensch.

When I read about the Serve the City week happening here in Bremen, I immediately signed up to participate.   Thursday morning, a teams of us hit the streets of Bremen to polish Stolpersteine (literally, stumbling stones or blocks).  The Stolpersteine  are an art project by Gunter Demnig commemorating the victims of National Socialism (the Nazis) across Europe.  Gunter lays small brass plaques in the sidewalks in front  of victims’ former homes, beginning with “Here lived…” and then listing their name, birthday, and what became of them.  Over 43,000 Stolpersteine have been laid so far across Europe.

If you live in Germany, you have certainly gestolpert across a few of these plaques.  We had several in front of my apartment building in Hamburg, they are everywhere in Berlin, and I pass many on my walk to the train in the morning here in Bremen.  They offer a very concrete connection to those that suffered during this terrible period in history — a family lived in this very house, perhaps the same house where you now live, and here is their story.  Suddenly it doesn’t seem so abstract anymore, does it?

My volunteer partner and I spent about 4 hours polishing 12 Stolpersteine in Bremen.  You can tell in the before-and-after photos below that some of the plaques were hardly readable anymore and required some extra time and attention.  But it was extremely gratifying to see them gleaming afterwards — once again attracting attention as you pass by.

Parkstrasse 5: Before and After
Parkstrasse 5, Bremen: Sophie, Ida, Hermann, and Henrietta Ginsberg were deported in 1941 and murdered in Minsk.
Parkallee 31: Before and After
Parkallee 31, Bremen: Moritz Gompertz was deported in 1942 to the Theresianstadt Ghetto and died in 1943.
Parkstrasse 60
Parkstrasse 60, Bremen: Martha Schragenheim, and Simon and Minna Horowitz were deported in 1942 to the Theresianstadt Ghetto and died in 1943.

Get involved

If you’re willing to put a little research and time into it, you can also request to have Stolpersteine installed to commemorate victims of the Holocaust who lived at your address — check this website for more information.  There are also many local organizations involved in installing and taking care of the Stolpersteine — you can find a list here of their contact information.  And finally, at least in Bremen, you can “adopt” Stolpersteine and volunteer to polish and take care of them every so often — click here for more information.

P.S. The blog andBerlin has a really wonderful series devoted to the Stolpersteine in Berlin. I highly recommend popping on over there for a look.

7 thoughts on “Stolpersteine in Bremen: Hier wohnte…”

  1. Volunteering is such a good way to feel involved with the world around you. The Stolpersteine sound like an amazing project – as you said, suddenly the suffering and tragedies become more real. The “after pictures” plaques look gleaming!!
    Emily recently posted…2014 GO! St Louis HalfMy Profile

  2. Thank you for cleaning the steppingstones on Parc Allee. Egon Bamberger was my father and Julius my grandfather. If you would like to know more about what happened to them I be happy to tell you, I live in Oakland California. Are you currently still in Bremen?
    Jen

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