Czech Republic: Permission sought from Prostějov to install stones marking Holocaust victims
The first stones to mark those who disappeared during the Holocaust from the town of Prostějov could soon be installed according to a program to commemorate Holocaust victims that is running in the Czech Republic and many other countries. The stones to mark the disappeared, called Stolpersteine, are paving stones 10 x 10 cm square with information about the victims engraved into a small bronze plaque on their surface.
The stones are installed into the paving of sidewalks, usually in front of the building that was the last place where the people involved lived of their own free will before being deported to the concentration camps. In Prostějov, where a large Jewish community lived before the Second World War, you will not find any such stones, according to local association Hanácký Jeruzalém, which posted a notice about the stones on 18 March.
"The first people interested in this project have applied, one of them is from our town. He would like to cover the costs of installing the first Stolpersteine here," said the chair of the association, Michal Šmucr.
"We have made a request at the local council to install the stones, we are waiting to hear their response," he said. The stones must be ordered directly from the producer in Germany and could be installed in Prostějov next year.
According to the association it was difficult to determine to whom the first stones should be dedicated. "There were more than 1 200 Holocaust victims from the Prostějov area, who do we begin with?" Šmucr asked0.
"A certain guideline was the fact that this interested party wants to lay the first Stolpersteine for somebody from the building where he himself lives now. Of course, from that building alone more than 20 people were sent to the camps and just one survived," Šmucr said.
The youngest resident in that building, four-year-old Ruth Brennerová, who was murdered in the Maly Trostinets extermination camp near Minsk in 1942 along with her two sisters and her mother, has been chosen for the first stone in Prostějov. In the Czech Republic more than 200 such stones mark the disappeared in the city of Olomouc, for example, and others are installed in Kroměříž, Plzeň, Prague and Třebíč, while there are several tens of thousands of the stones installed all over Europe.
In Prostějov the local council has not been able for quite some time to reach agreement with Jewish organizations on how to restore the site of the former Jewish cemetery, which is located near a school. The cemetery was destroyed during the German occupation and a park and parking lot now cover the location where the remains of more than 2 000 Jewish inhabitants of the city are interred.
A foundation called Kolel Damesek Eliezer is endeavoring to rehabilitate the former cemetery but has not been able to reach agreement with the local council on what form the restoration of the cemetery as a remembrance site should take. The ancestors of the philosopher Edmund Husserl or the author Stefan Zweig, for example, are interred there
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