It is already a few years now that the Jewish community hears Antwerp politicians promising that there shall be done something to commemorate the deported and killed Jews from Antwerp.
The Antwerp Jewish organizations have been consulting with the Antwerp city council to set up a commemorative monument on which all the names of Jews sent to concentration camps and who have not returned would be named. It must be clear to them that the present situation with seeing some Stolpersteine or stumbling stone being put in the pavement is not sufficient. It might be nice to find messing plates on the sidewalk when they are big, but here it are stones of 10 by 10 cm..
The German artist Gunter Demnig citing the Talmud saying that
“a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten”.
wants to bring that memory alive with the Stolpersteine in front of the buildings.
By installing commemorative brass plaques in the pavement in front of their last address of choice, each “stone” beginning with “HERE LIVED”… One “stone”. One name. One person.
There are already Stolpersteine in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.
In April 2017, there were over 61,000 Stolpersteine in about 1200 places in Europe. There are already more than 25 Stolperschwelle. The German organisation continue to receive more and more requests and unfortunately the waiting lists are getting longer.
However, Regine Sluszny, vice-chairman of the Forum of Jewish Organizations (FJO), says
The majority of Antwerp Jews prefer a monument like to commemorate the dead.
Raphael Werner, the President of the FJO warns that
The illegal placement of Stolpersteine is without the consent of the City Council in which only a few (in this case 2) murdered members of our community are commemorated cannot be the right solution and is not the option supported by the Antwerp Jewish community.
For him it is extremely important to act carefully in regards to history and find the right solution for the thousands of victims and to commemorate everyone in a dignified manner. He says
The goal will only be reached if one has an overall vision in mind for a permanent commemoration of the victims, the Jewish deportation and the Second World War. Strengthening remembrance education and the educational role are also a decisive factor in this.
The Antwerp memorial (or “Names Memorial”; cfr. 9/11Memorial) as planned for several years now is the worthy answer and will be realized within a very short time now thanks to the cooperation of the City Council.
It would be nice and many of us are looking forward to see a more manifest structure to commemorate the many who died under the nationalist regime. We are looking forward to find in several Belgian cities a monument indicating the names of all murdered Jews from Antwerp during the Holocaust.
The Forum of Jewish Organizations is in favour of a new monument and is pleased that the Antwerp Mayor and City Council are backing this project and have established a scientific advisory board for this purpose with the aim to keep the commemoration of WWII and the memory of the victims alive.
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