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Stolperstein (wikipedia.org)
445 points by dschuessler 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 170 comments





It's an awesome idea, because it brings the painful past right into our daily lives. You're forced to serendipituously "stumble" across them every now and then.

The stories on them, told in a brief phrase, are mostly heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting, always relevant. "Executed for making fun of the Führer", "Deported and gassed for hiding Jewish neighbors", "Survived concentration camp but parents, siblings and relatives did not make it out alive".


The idea to put a bit more info about the person was brilliant, even a single sentence makes you relate more. There is a similar project in Russia called The Last Address [1], I see these a lot (but probably not enough) in the Saint-Petersburg historical center, and although being a similar age and area of expertise to lots of victims helps, even a brief summary of their "wrongdoings" would go a long way enriching the perspective on our history, especially given current political climate here. "A 30 years old engineer lived here" doesn't ring as close as "a 30 years old engineer who lived here was murdered by the state for a crime of opposing the oppressive regime".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Address


I think with many victims we just don't know what exactly happened – some were opposing the regime, some told a political joke, some were falsely accused by their co-workers in order to get promoted to their position, some were falsely accused by their (innocent) friends who were tortured by NKVD, some had a wrong biography, and others had a wrong name. They all got Article 58.

A woman in my town was send into the "lighter" political version of the KZ, because she remarked upon recieving the "medal of motherhood" with a cynic "and were shall i pin that, to my bottom?"

Totalitarian nightmares have no humor. If you think, your favourite thing in life shoul dbe spared jokes and jests, you are heading right towards that spot. Nothing should be sacrosanct to jokes.

I raise my glass to those who walked into the fence, taking theire workforce awaz from the fuehrer and his germinions.


I always thought that a firstperson shooter game where whenever you killed a mook you'd get a quick flashback of that person's life would have been a super interesting concept. Especially if it was a Call of Duty like game, rather than a game where you could choose to avoid killing.

Sniper Elite 5 has something like that: every enemy has a short biography visible when you aim at them. Didn't play the game, but like the gesture - people are people no matter what side you are on, doesn't matter who you dehumanize, it's wrong either way.

This happens in Divinity 2 as an elf. If you eat the body of someone you flash back into their life.


The film Shoah always struck me for similar reasons

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoah_(film)

They did many of these interviews in the 70’s so a little more than 30 years after the Holocaust.

Seeing them interview some farmer who was 20 at the time and lived near the village of Auschwitz and remembers seeing the trains going in full of people and coming out empty really hits home as it all happened in the midst of people just living their lives.


Here in Liesing, Austria, I walked past a stolperstein this morning, which sits at the entrance to a local Billa (supermarket), which is a new construction on a site where I suppose the victim of Nazi aggression lived before being taken to a concentration camp to perish.

Although I see these stones all over Vienna, and find myself in contemplation every single time I see them elsewhere around Europe, it is even more jarring to see them in a seemingly random outer suburb/town of the region at the footstep of a local grocery store, and is a severely jarring reminder of the atrocities that occurred in this land, not so long ago.

I wish Australia, my native land, would have the courage to do something similar to highlight the atrocities we committed there, on the original peoples. Alas, Australian war hubris is too heavy to pierce that veil ..


I have the same thing over the border in Brno, Czech Republic. Didn't really notice them for so long, until suddenly I stopped to read one and realised they're all over the place. I always stop to check them now.

Additionally I have similar feelings about the atrocities committed by the UK. To me it feels so unambiguously right to officially acknowledge and apologise that our ancestors did pretty heinous shit (up to and including invading countries this century).


I don't know why you think it is unambiguosuly right to apologize for past crimes.

My Finnish friend is super into history and he basically remembers the events of history by it's relative position in time to a European war. There were so many horrific wars.

The stories of past highlight the worst parts of human nature, but many people got by in love without murdering the locals next door.

We should turn away from evil and denouce it. The apology for it, suggests a naive belief one is separate from that human nature which drove the crimes.

Maybe with more lead in air from leaded petrol, or more internet radicalization, or an end to our local agriculture, we might be the 1% that turns toward evil. Examining past crimes can lead to more crime, as we have seen with internet radicals lately and copycat people following news media stories.

Studying that sh*t and mulling it over in apology for crimes one never did is dangerous, we should move towards loving the good things done, past and future.


I think there's very clearly a point beyond which any reasonable person agrees that what's done is done and it doesn't make sense to make apologies anymore. Like today in 2022 nobody but the most peculiar weirdo in Scotland holds a grudge against people with the surname "Campbell" because of the Glencoe Massacre[0] after more than 300 years (though they do exist!).

But for something like the Mau Mau massacre, for the Iraq War, for the Afghanistan War or for any number of atrocities in British India or anything like that - these were huge events whose effects can still be felt today. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect some sort of official apology from the state. Or failing that - simply allowing a level of acknowledgement in our History curriculum that says "The British Empire was not good, and was in fact quite often bad for a very long period of time" might help. Because right now doing so is walking on very thin ice[1] and there are a lot of people walking around in the UK who think our imperial project was one which colonised and civilised, rather than brutalised it.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Glencoe

[1] - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/guidance-on-promoting-bri...


The Mau Mau massacre is not 'unambigously right to apologize for'. The moral argument that one must make amends for his/her sin should apply to the perpetrators of the sin, not people who were uninvolved and the government has already compensated the victims of British torture financially.

But the Kenyan view that the Mau Mau were heroic freedom fighters and colonialism was bad, is painfully simplistic. The Mau Mau started the war by murdering innocents, they killed their own people if they did not swear an oath of alliegance and they escalated the brutality every step of the way.

The real Kenyans who wanted nothing to do with either the Brits or the Mau Mau are nearly completely unrecognized and yet the political narrative is dominated by the impacts of war, resources and money.

Your second link doesn't suggest anything to do with the British Empire. The values it's advertising are bog standard secular democratic stuff. The values of the British Empire were more religious, monarchical and imperialistic.

If this is the anti-empire narrative then it is disappointly anemic. Tribes who escalate economic warfare to the level of pure psychopathy and a small british colony that escalates to respond in war-camp, torturous kind, is not a good face value judgement of the largest empire the planet's seen, and all the good that it brought.


>Studying that sh*t and mulling it over in apology for crimes one never did is dangerous, we should move towards loving the good things done, past and future.

This shows a severe lack of empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of a people whose immediate relatives and ancestors were annihilated by the same social order currently running the country. You might see a use for apologies.


Likewise. I get very frustrated by all the people who will refuse to acknowledge that our ancestors did some atrocious things to people. People will just through some extrodinary hoops to rationalise why it either wasn't so terrible, or it was somehow justified in a way that other people's atrocities were not.

As an Australian, visiting Mauthausen - or indeed any of the preserved concentration camps of the past - was particularly humbling. It really highlighted to me that a society that gets honest with itself, improves - and those who don't, just continue to commit the same atrocities.

We Australians don't have the courage that Austrians do, when it comes to acknowledging the criminal actions of our past society. Alas, the struggle for acknowledgement is real. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Australias concentration camps and genocide programs were performed in seriously remote locations, far far away from any civil population - so its a lot easier to hide.

The camp at Mauthausen can be seen from the local countryside and is clearly maintained to be a visible reminder of extremist totalitarian/authoritarianism to the children who visit it, regularly, as part of their education. That courage is something for which the Austrian people should be proud.


Sorry if it's not clear, I'm a UK national. And while it's true that we shouldn't really distinguish between atrocities (after all, they're all bad), I think being from the UK you're always going to feel a bit more connected to or somehow complicit in things that were done during the days of the British Empire even if you weren't yet born when they happened.

Sort of a lingering, inherited shame. If that makes sense :)


What makes this possible in Europe is the Nazi mania for documentation. In Australia, as in the US, the killings happened over decades in a far more random/opportunistic way and records of how many died and where are extremely patchy, with few if any names recorded:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_of_Indigenou...


I sometimes wonder how difficult it is to strike the right balance.

When I was in US high school, so much time was spent focusing on the atrocities of the US that many of my peers left with the impression that the US is a horrible country not worth fighting for.

Interestingly, activating that feeling of nihilism is the goal of Russian propaganda in the US.


This really unfortunate state of affairs means that legitimate complaints against the USA can be brushed off as merely Russian agitprop, which simply enables further atrocities to be committed, unquestioned by the civilian populace who are the only ones with the real power to do anything about it.

We must avoid the "blame Russia" response and be honest about our own states' vast and heinous crimes against humanity - lest, indeed, we become Russia.


Well, US is probably the most aggressive country on this planet, but it's more than that: there's also its complete denial of any responsibility, from Hague Invasion Act to decorating people responsible for shooting down airliners and droning random kids.

I've seen some that just name a family or couple that were taken away one night and "murdered", which hit me the hardest, personally.

> It's an awesome idea, because it brings the painful past right into our daily lives. You're forced to serendipituously "stumble" across them every now and then.

I very much believe that this is the intention, but does it actually though? Oppressive country frequently brings up the past as a safe way to legitimize the present. Russia seems to have had an increase in this in recent years as it now started a war in Europe. Most of the western world seems to not have learned much at all from the second world war and are yet again running black sites, funneling money to regimes and fighting wars to defend some of them.

Unfortunately I think part of the popularity of these stone today is that they are no longer provocative. Their existence doesn't seem to have the effect of for example highlighting still exiting companies participation in the holocaust, current day trade policies or crimes against humanity. Putting one of these outside a company, judge or commander involved in past or present atrocities would probably result in it quickly being removed and you potentially landing in jail.

But I guess that even if few learns the bigger lesson they might still be a net positive.


Putin is not the only person who was successful with this strategy. Usually it goes like this: an enemy attacks us, we defend ourselves, this unites us, and that unity is then abused in the future to legitimize authoritarian rule or even - as in the case of Putin's invasion of Ukraine - a full-scale war.

It makes no difference if a person was killed for ridiculing Fuhrer, hiding Jews or refusing to serve vodka[0]. Death is death and I hope one day humanity understands no war makes sense and we stop this insanity, working together to make everybody's lives better, not just one nation we happen to be associated with.

[0] https://uarefugees.news/hot-news/in-bucha-the-invaders-shot-...


Remembrance and memorials alone don't stop atrocities from happening again. There's a difference between reminded of the past, and actively engaging with the past in the present moment.

It's important to give countenance to the fact that democracy, human rights, the rule of law,... in and of itself aren't measures against populism and authoritarianism. By and large, the success of the latter is tied into resentment over key social and economic factors which determine the strength of social cohesion and a sense of equity.

If a state doesn't invest in the common interests of its citizenry, over time that will create breeding grounds for people to become resentful, distrustful, tribal, isolated,... The identity politics of populists and authoritarians by and large revolve "we against them" narratives. These are incredibly easy to understand and provide a new framework of meaning and values to disenfranchised people. Minorities become prime targets because they are visibly different and therefor easy to pick out and used as scapegoats. That's what fractures an erstwhile democratic, cohesive society.

In Germany, the NSDAP only became successful after 1932, when the effects of the Depression came into full swing in an already unstable political climate of the Weimar Republic.

You're right, though, that in a way, the remembrance of the Holocaust doesn't resolve in a clear, consistent moral framework of principles. Just think about how restitution of property and real estate is still a hotly debated topic today. The crux is that questions regarding historic responsibility and guilt and how to approach them are always framed into a backdrop of present day economical and political concerns and interests. And that's just collective behavior that can be changed with an easy silver bullet fix.

> Unfortunately I think part of the popularity of these stone today is that they are no longer provocative.

I highly doubt that. On an individual level, humans are very much capable of feeling empathy and compassion. For instance, the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial received a record 2.3 million visitors in 2019. The unspeakable atrocities that happened there still resonate to this very day. If not for countless children and grand-children still deal with a lost connection to their own shared past through the loss of their family in the camps; and the stories that are still begin shared publicly of that great sorrow.

The thing that should worry us is people either not even noticing the stones and their significance in the first place, or forgetting their significance the minute they've passed and falling back into biased thinking regarding present day state of the world.


It's important to note that elements in Ukraine since 2014 pushed a series of oppressive legal restrictions on the Russian-speaking segment of the population that were designed to push that entire group into second-class citizen status.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-parliament-langua...

> (2019) "The law, which obliges all citizens to know the Ukrainian language and makes it a mandatory requirement for civil servants, soldiers, doctors, and teachers, was championed by outgoing President Petro Poroshenko."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/21/ukraine-bans-s...

> (2015) "Dunja Mijatović, the representative for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on freedom of the media, said the “broadly and vaguely defined language” in the anti-communist law “could easily lead to suppression of political, provocative and critical speech, especially in the media”. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum also condemned the independence-fighter legislation."

Imagine, for comparison, if a right-wing government in Washington tried to make all Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens second-class citizens, while incorporating the KKK into the military forces of the United States, as Ukraine did with the Nazi revivalist group Azov Battalion? These are the kind of actions that led to the rise of Russian separatist movements in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and which Putin ultimately used as part of his political justification for the invasion of Ukraine.

The situation is now so completely embittered that it's hard to see a resolution where the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine and Crimea would ever agree to exist under the control of a western Ukrainian government.


It's important to note that the comment above is just propaganda. Read the linked articles, they aren't even close to the ideas presented above - but links to RT and Sputnik would look suspicious, and nobody clicks those links anyway.

Thank you for your incredibly constructive comment.

>Nazi revivalist group Azov Battalion

Russian propaganda loves pointing to the same few cases of Nazism in Ukraine. Ok, lets see that Russian propaganda misses at home - that for example is the Roskosmos CEO Rogozin, one of the most prominent voices around Putin and the Putin's favorite giving a Nazi salute and the end of his Nazi speech at the Russian Nazi march in Moscow. The specific phrase they all give Nazi salute to is "Glory to Russia!".

https://youtu.be/xkXVVcPWSU8?t=87

And for that antique Nazist paraphernalia that some Azov members supposedly had... Well, this is the Main Cathedral of Russian forces built in 2020 where they store various Hitler's "relics" (yep, exactly that term - "relikviya" - was used here by the Russian top military leadership!) including his uniform, medals, etc. and where walls and floor is made out of German's tank metal - basically they made a Hitler shrine (and can make a good money organizing pilgrimage here for the neo-Nazis across the world :).

https://images.theconversation.com/files/449001/original/fil...

Anyway, Russia is a full blown nazist state today like Germany was in 1939 and whatever Russia says, in particular about nazims, is worthless at best, and usually is just outright propaganda lie.

>the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine and Crimea would ever agree

Definitely nobody is asking that population today. The Russian puppet regimes on those territories are terrorist states just like ISIS - the only difference is that ISIS preferred public beheadings while in those Donbass "republics" they kidnap and torture with fate of many unknown, though few mutilated bodies found so far of such disappeared people suggest that there is no good fate to expect.

>It's important to note that elements in Ukraine si nce 2014 pushed a series of oppressive legal restrictions on the Russian-speaking segment of the population that were designed to push that entire group into second-class citizen state.

That wasn't push against Russian speaking population. That was push against various symbols of the totalitarian regime of USSR. In particular removing names from public places of the USSR leaders who ordered/led mass killings of millions of people, ie. Lenin, Stalin, and their close associates in that, etc.

The requirement for Ukrainian usage in Ukraine is the same for Russian-speaking as for say Hungarian- or Romanian-speaking minorities.


We have these around where I live. The thing that struck me most is just the sheer number of them. Of course you get taught in history class the death tolls, but seeing it out in the real world hits differently. More are still getting added every year as well. It's sobering.

I couldn't agree more. Maybe it makes the grim lessons stay with us a little bit longer - something that I am seriously concerned about given Putin's replay of these events (and also living in Poland).

Yeah, in my city I also stumble across these stones. One day, on my way of getting groceries, I was quite frankly shocked by the frequency of the stolpersteine.

I am thankful that these exists and getting reminded now and then is, at least for me, really important and outline in some kind of tiny fraction, how many families suffered the same fate.


> It's an awesome idea, because it brings the painful past right into our daily lives.

So you are saying we should be reminded and think about the horrors of Nazi's every day and everywhere?


There's also a OpenStreetMap based map on top of that: https://stolpersteinmap.de/

And the German public TV station created an app with additional information on Stolpersteine: https://stolpersteine.wdr.de/web/en/


Impressive to see how many Stolpersteine are out there. I never saw/recognized one on my own even though I walk around a lot in areas with a high density of them.

I think it's almost like Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. When I randomly recognized the first one, I suddenly realized there were many more I would pass everyday but had never noticed.

I didn't know of them until after I had moved to Hamburg, where there are quite a few. My SO showed them to me and told me the background.

I was flabbergasted. Being very interested in history, having studied history at university and never before having heard of them was quite frankly disconcerting for me back then.

Since I nearly always stumble (as intended) as it is a visual pattern I now instantly recognize.


The map is missing some even though they are listed on Wikipedia...

There are many such memorial plaques on the pavements of Vienna. They are almost part of the landscape, easy to walk by without noticing, yet every so often, when one stops rushing and reads a few of these (it was often whole families being deported, not just individuals), it hits again. And it is important that it never stops hitting and reminding us of this horror and of the need of avoiding repeating it.

> the need of avoiding repeating it

Which is why I think this is pointless. We didn't learn anything. People are still being prosecuted all throughout the world. I won't give examples because I don't mean to start a flamewar but yeah, humanity sucks.


It’s absolutely not pointless. We learned, but learning is not a destination, it’s a journey that sometimes has backtracks and delays.

The fact that you think it’s pointless shows that you yourself have some learning to do.


Referring to modern day regimes commiting genocide as "backtracks" is quite something.

Learning is pointless if you don't put it to use, which is what my point is. It doesn't take decades to learn not to kill people who are different from you.


Great to see recognition for this on HN! My mother set up a group buy here in the neighborhood to place four of these Stolpersteine, and arranged everything needed to make it happen.

It's weird that the article explicitly mentiones various groups that were killed/deported to German concentration camps across Europe and commemorated by the stones, but does not mention the second largest one - Poles. German historical policy tends to not include Poles as victims the 1939-1945 Germany, but in spite of that, there are multiple stones commemorating them in today's Berlin.

Polish Jews were targeted as Jews, but non-Jewish Poles were not targeted in the same way (i.e., the Germans were brutal occupiers, but Catholic Poles were not targeted for extermination).

However, there is a modern historical myth in Poland about extermination camps targeting non-Jewish Poles. For many years, there was a Wikipedia article about a fictional extermination camp for Poles. That theory is now discussed in a subsection of this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_concentration_camp#Disc....

The idea behind these theories is to draw an equivalence between what the Germans did to Catholics and Jews in occupied Poland, something that is popular among modern Polish nationalists.


It's true that there's a nationalist movement exploiting that notion, and especially after the war, there's been a lot of mangling with numbers of victims (plenty of the so-called Polish historians, especially the ones tied to the Soviet-installed government, tried to elevate the number).

On the part that non-Jewish Poles were not targetted - while I think we agree the fictious concentration camp is part of what I mentioned above, hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Poles from both modern day Poland and modern day Germany have been victims of organized killings (take note, I don't necessarily mean concentration camps and holocaust as commonly understood). I can agree that catholic Poles were not targeted in the same way - there were numerous differences - nevertheless, the goal of Germany was to eradicate Poland as a country and Poles as a nation through either killings (which materialized in war casualties and through mass extermination), or germanization.


The Germans did terrible things in Poland and had even more terrifying plans for Poland after the war, but there was no Holocaust against non-Jewish Poles. The way that Jewish and non-Jewish Poles were treated was worlds apart. About 90% of Polish Jews were killed (a majority of all Polish deaths during the war, despite making up only 15% of the pre-war population).

Edit: The people trying to draw an equivalence between what happened to Jewish and non-Jewish Poles are largely aligned with right-wing, strongly Catholic Polish nationalists, and are not in and way fond of the Soviet era. This is mostly a post-Soviet phenomenon.


I think we directionally agree; about the post-Soviet phenomenon - I know for fact that this phenomenon started immediately after the war and was part of consolidating power by the Soviets. The communist Poland was, in a weird way, quite nationalistic. But you are right that this phenomenon has its reneissance, or even reinforced version now as we're speaking.

I don't fully understand what specifically do you mean by saying that there was no holocaust to non-Jewish Poles, but thousands of them died in concentration camps all around territories occupied by Germans and often shared identical fate to those who were of Jewish origin.

If I understood you correctly, you use term "holocaust" to describe mass extermination of Jews and Jews only, and as long as you acknowledge there's been other mass killings during the war, I'm completely fine with that.

e: it's not how I was taught history at school - e.g. teachers would include non-Jewish Poles, Russians, Hungarians, Romas, Sinti, and other nationalities that were sent to death camps too - I think by holocaust they basically meant death camps (regardless on who was killed in there) rather than the bigger scheme of killing all the Jews.


> I don't fully understand what specifically do you mean by saying that there was no holocaust to non-Jewish Poles

There was no systematic extermination of Catholic Poles. To be a Jew in occupied Europe was to be hunted. 90% of Jews in Poland were killed. You basically had to have a miracle to survive. There's very little in modern history like this.


> Polish Jews were targeted as Jews, but non-Jewish Poles were not targeted in the same way (i.e., the Germans were brutal occupiers, but Catholic Poles were not targeted for extermination).

What are you talking about? The Nazis absolutely intended to exterminate Catholic Poles (and other Slavs). Murdering Jews was higher priority, but had the Nazis won there wouldn't be too many Slavs around in Eastern Europe today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost

And despite losing the war the Germans together with their erstwhile allies, the Soviets, still managed to exterminate a huge fraction of the Polish elite in a targeted fashion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tannenberg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre


> What are you talking about?

The fact that the Nazis attempted to exterminate the Jews in Poland, and almost succeeded. They killed 90% of the Jewish population.

There were horrific plans for most of the Slavic population of Eastern Europe for after the war (Generalplan Ost, which you've linked to), but they were never put into operation. Catholic Poles were not subject to anything near the level of persecution as Jewish Poles.

> together with their erstwhile allies, the Soviets

The Germans and Soviets weren't "erstwhile allies." The Soviets were defined as enemy #1 by the Nazis. The Soviets were aware of this, and tried to organize an anti-German military alliance with France and to save Czechoslovakia. France refused, and Poland, which itself wanted to get a piece of Czechoslovakia, refused to allow Soviet troops to transit its territory into Czechoslovakia. After Britain and France sold out Czechoslovakia, the Soviets decided to make a dirty deal with the Germans, in order to delay the German attack for as long as possible. Not a shining moment, but calling the Soviets "erstwhile allies" of the Germans is a gross distortion of history, particularly given that it's the Soviets who made the largest contribution to the defeat of the Nazis.


This doesn’t change the fact that Russians and Germans were allies, started the war together, and German tanks all ran on Russian fuel. Exactly how it was beneficial for them to become allies is secondary.

The Soviet Union did not start the war, and was not allied with Germany.

Germany quite clearly started the war with its invasion of Poland, and without that decision, there would have been no war.

They two countries had a non-aggression pact, and an agreement not to interfere with each other's spheres of influence. The Soviets knew full well that the Germans planned to invade the USSR, and the point of the non-aggression pact was to delay that invasion until the Red Army was capable of fighting a war.


The whole notion of equivalency of evil is actually pernicious, as it is more of a contest of victimhood: "they did worse to us, so we are better". Arguing about numbers abstracts from the reality that even one person being killed for such an inhuman regime is already too many.

I think it would be sufficient to condemn the evil that was committed rather than make a certain group better because "They suffered more". So many suffered from that evil regime that we don't need a contest to see who is better. The Catholic clergy were in fact terribly persecuted in German and Poland by the Nazi regime, hundreds of priests being killed in Dachau alone. This doesn't take away the horrors that others suffered nor allow us to somehow abstract from them just because "our tribe suffered more".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp


Apparently putting down the stones in Poland is met with resistance. If poles want to commemorate killed poles with these stones they will have to take the initiative.

The Poles I'm refering to were killed in Germany and the stones commemorating them exist. My comment is saying that the article is not mentioning them.

There are stones like this in Poland commemorating Jews, e.g. former German city of Breslau, nowadays Wrocław. I believe the resistance came from the fact that Poles were not organizers of those killings/deportations and it was expected to be misunderstood by people unfamiliar with history (e.g. stone commemorating murdered Jews in a city that was formerly German but nowadays Polish, or Jews murdered in Poland by Germans).

Important to mention: there were killings (not supported by the state) of Jews and systemic antisemitism (clearly supported by the state) in Poland conducted and organized by Polish people before and during the war (this was, though, not supported by the state at that time), but incomparable in scale.


> My comment is saying that the article is not mentioning them.

If you care about this, the "article" is wikipedia, and in the time you wrote this posts you could have added it already.

edit: I was quick to comment, the article is protected. So unless you already have an active Wikipedia account, you'd have to request an edit on the talk page.


You're generally right, I can take on it and I will - but before I do it, I wanted to point out that as a consensus of work of many people, it ended up in mentioning petty criminals, but not tens of thousands of people who were expelled, prosecuted, killed, etc. because of their nationality.

It's hard to tell if this is some anti-Polish resentiments of one or many of the authors, or just extremely low level of historical knowledge, but something tells me it's the first.


In Germany there has been a lot of resistance too. Including court cases etc.

But against the stones in general, not specifically against stones for Poles. I followed the discussion and also in other cities Stolpersteine for Poles have been initiated, albeit slowly.

Considering it's 2022, it clearly shows that the sentiment has been against it.

It's their way of commemorating their victims and somehow in the process the second largest group slipped through. I don't want their way of commemorating their victims in my home Poland.

As the GP said there are several stones commemorating polish victims in Berlin and other places.

In this case the stones mark the places where the victims lived.

I assume most Polish victims did not live in the territory of present day Germany.

From personal experience I recall some with "eastern" names in a town that used to have a notable polish minority but I couldn't say for sure.

Btw Can you recommend places to visit to learn more about their stories and history (besides the former sites of the concentration camps)?


I think the only way we can move forward in Europe is to commemorate this past together, accept responsibility, and build a future where that cannot happen again. I think that has worked quite well so far (war between the European countries is unimaginable).

Think about where we would be if we hadn't gone down this path. We can all help move things forward if we meet each other with an open mind, and steer clear of the resentment and national chauvinism of the past.


As far as I can tell, it doesn’t mention nationalities at all. For example, it doesn’t mention Germans, either.

If so, why would it have to mention Poles?


It does mention Jews, Sinti and Romas. It doesn't mention Germans because it was Germans who were the perpetrators and were not targetted based on their ethnicity. Meanwhile being Polish (it's an ethnic group, not a nationality - nationality was obviously German in this context) was, same as for the aforementioned ethnicities, a condition that could get someone killed.

Well, but Germans were most definitely targeted: The disabled, for example, the homosexuals, the homeless, the mentally sick, the vocal critics… This is not to say Germans were not the perpetrators, but that they weren’t targeted is factually wrong.

Edit: I’m sorry, I just read your comment again, and realised I misunderstood. I still feel those marginalised groups get overlooked often; the Nazis didn’t specifically select for Germans, but for „pure“ aryans, which excluded lots of different groups.


I looked into the german version, expecting it to mention it more, but Poland is just mentioned once in a side sentence. It kinda saddens me.

That’s because the German version doesn’t list groups at all. It just talks about "victims of the NS regime" in the general.

It's the wiki, just add them to the article! Yes, these biases exist, help work against them by editing those pages that can easily be edited.

Edit: I just tried, that article is locked. Could add it to the Talk page.


I don't know if this was added because of this comment, but the list does include poles:

> The majority of Stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Others have been placed for Sinti and Romani people (then also called "gypsies"), Poles, homosexuals, [...]

Edit: It looks like the word Poles was added today, so I assume it's because of this comment (otherwise that's a pretty wild coincidence.)


I wouldn't say that "historical policy" doesn't include Poles, but yes, the popular view of the Holocaust is dominated by the organized extermination of the Jews (and some other groups) in the concentration camps. Non-Jewish Poles were also Nazi victims, but according to https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/polish-vic..., they were mostly murdered during the invasion of Poland or immediately after, so it's much more difficult to estimate the total number of victims. Also, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_victims, Soviet civilians and POWs are the second and third largest groups (not that it matters much, especially since Poland is a much smaller country).

Germany has a very interesting views on poles. While Germans living in Poland are officially recognized as a minority with all the rights (German schools, street names) the German government to this day refuses to recognize poles living in Germany as a minority.

Poles living in Germany are usually working migrants, not a minority that has lived there since centuries (like Germans in Poland). It's hard to compare those situations.

No, you are not correct. Poles have been in Germany for centuries.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poles_in_Germany


From the wikipage:

>The position of the German government is that after the German territorial losses after World War II, the current Polish minority has no century-old roots in the remaining German territory, because Germany lost all the territories where people of German and Polish ethnicity overlapped. Since they are therefore only recent immigrants, they do not fulfill the requirements of a national minority according to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Treaty of Good Neighbourship. Being German citizens, they still retain all civil and political rights every German citizen possesses, and therefore can voice their will in the political system.[10]


I think the original point is that Poles or Germans of Polish descent who survived the war have been forcefully Germanized - as in, refused the right to organize Polish schools etc. not in the modern days, but in the post war era (45-89).

There is a big group of these people (e.g. in Ruhr area) but it's really hard for me to tell (and I'm a Polish migrant living in Germany myself) if that was the case, or it was the idea that Poles/Germans of Polish descent after the war were afraid of ethnical Germans and as a result, repressed the manifest of national identity/ethnicity. It definitely was (and still is) the case for Jewish survivors of the 1939-1945 regime, but the anti-Jewish and anti-Polish sentiments didn't end from day to day and it's extremely hard to narrow down what was the cause of it.



The people who have been living there pre-WW2 were deported or killed. The Poles, other than very very few, who live there now are not descendants of the "original" Polish minority in Germany.

Incorrect.

> It is estimated that in modern times, some 150,000 inhabitants of the Ruhr Area (out of roughly five million) are of Polish descent.


Those lost their polish identity though.

That is because large parts of what is now Poland used to be Germany and not the other way around. Germany did not accept losing the 'German east' until reunification. It took Helmut Kohl threatening to resign for the CDU accepting Poland in its current borders.

The German government in general doesn't collect data on the composition of ethnic groups in Germany.

They are everywhere in Amsterdam. Here's a map on the non-profit website that takes care of them: https://stichting-stolpersteine.nl/where-are-stolpersteine/?...

I'll preface this by stating that this is probably not a popular opinion.

Notwithstanding the ideals behind the Stolpersteine, they are not exclusively a positive influence. The problem lies in one of the defining characteristics of this project: the stones are placed in front of the houses where the Jewish victims who got deported and executed lived.

This means that if you happen to live in a house tenanted by these unfortuna victims in the past (or even in a new house built where their house was), you can end up with a whole bunch of names permanently staring at you whenever you leave the house. Some, perhaps most, people can ignore that, but for some this constant reminder of pointless death and hardship is quite a burden and can significantly affect their quality of life — should they feel guilty for living? If you speak up about this, you are branded a clueless NIMBY resident or even an anti-Semite (there have been a few of such cases in the Netherlands).

Normally, memorials and remembrances are limited in their influence on people's daily life. Memorials are not just placed haphazardly, but with proper consideration of the needs and wants of those who life in the area, as well as the victims and their descendants. A respectful, serene corner of a public park for example. Events where the victims of past conflicts are remembered are limited in time: you can participate or ignore it, and then move on with your life. Stolpersteine however, just get put there in the pavement whether you like it or not.

Should people be confronted with the horrors of past conflicts? Absolutely — during education and in locations where this is to be expected and one can open up to consider the actions and consequences of the past — but not everywhere, not constantly, and not exclusively (there are, after all, quite a few horrific things in our recent past, certainly not limited to the fate of deported Jews in the Second World War). Unavoidable, the dead commemorated by Stolpersteine stake out quite a claim on the land of the living. I do find that Stolpersteine presume too much upon the public space to the point of becoming tasteless and an affront.


> I do find that Stolpersteine presume too much upon the public space to the point of becoming tasteless and an affront.

Oh please, they are 10x10 cm (or even smaller), how can they take up "too much public space"?

In my street in Berlin there are Stolpersteine almost in front of every house. They are a memorial just as much as they have become integral part of the "environment". In my daily life I don't pay much attention anymore, but sometimes they still make me stop and think, and I guess this was exactly the intent.


It's not uncommon to have memorials in places where they are very much present in every day life, e.g.:

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_verwoeste_stad A statue remembering the bombing of Rotterdam, in a busy place in the centre of Rotterdam.

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagage_(Leiden) A monument in multiple pieces remembering deportation. Most of them are placed in residential areas, in full view of the people who live there.


Those are a lot more abstract though, placed in much more considerate locations (I have lived in Leiden myself), and not nearly as numerous. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the planning and realization of these.

Having an actual name on it makes it a lot more personal (which is the intent after all), and having hundreds of them all over historic areas of any given town makes it a barrage rather than a subtle reminder.


Typically not sad things (they celebrate someone who achieved something(s) great) but in the UK one might live somewhere decorated by (literally on the exterior wall) a 'blue plaque'.

I realise that's not quite the same, but a similar reminder of someone you don't necessarily want to be reminded of (albeit for probably completely different reasons) who 'lived here'.


I have three stones in front of my house. I clean them once a year. They do not bother me.

Personally, I don't quite "get" why other Germans seem to personally suffer under the weight of the county's history. I was born in the 1980s, it is obvious that I am not "guilty", but I have no problem feeling responsible to keep the memory alive.

In fact, any reasonable observer will notice that admitting guilt, in the hardest possible terms, has been exceptionally good strategy for the country. Except for the British, and some, but few, Israeli jews, people tend to be impressed with the postwar behavior of the country. Any remnants of fear proved useful to "force" Germany into the Euro and get it of military engagements, although the latter has somewhat stopped.

So whenever I see Turkey, or Hungary, or, to some degree, Austria, trying to deny their respective genocides and/or participation in the Holocaust, it just feels exceptionally stupid! Everybody knows of the Turkish genocide against the Armenians. Denying it is silly and just keeps it alive. Build monuments honoring those you have harmed and the world will love you for it.

(if, that is, you also stop harming more people! wtf is wrong with you? It's not like land is worth anything, these days, or you-know-who would obviously not need more of it).


I was living in Budapest in a house marked with one of the plaques, and I never had a similar thought. What's the mental process that makes you uneasy with them?

Very interesting, but puzzling comment. It reality makes me understand how reality can be perceived in wildly different ways. Thank you for it.


I'm not sure why being reminded of the horrors of the past would make you feel guilty.

You are living in a home that would otherwise perhaps still be occupied by the people (or their families) that were taken away.

The average German moves house 6 times in their life. Unless it's a rural village it's very unlikely they would still live there. And now, 77 years after the war, most of them would have died of old age.

Of course guilt doesn't have to be rational.


Survivors guilt can be severely debilitating for some people.

I can also see folks who are severely depressed, bipolar, or other conditions that involve irrationally strong responses to negative stimulus would be impacted by a constant reminder of horror.

I think I agree with the author here - I don’t know I would appreciate my home being marked as the site of an atrocity. Our homes are for the living and the future. It’s good to be aware, and I’m not diminishing the tragedy or the need to keep the memory of it alive to prevent it happening again and to remember the victims. But it feels an awful lot like turning your community into a cemetery, instead of having a cemetery for your community.


Read enough twitter threads, and you find people for whom eating morning cereal can be severely debilitating.

In my opinion, people are able to learn to deal with uncomfortable things in their lives.


this guilt aspect is quite weird for me. Surely we younglings that have NOTHING to do with this, won't have to feel guilty.

There have been a few cases in the media; though not necessarily focused on feelings of guilt. One couple in Amsterdam¹ lost their child and suffered a strong emotional response whenever people outside would gawk at their house with a solemn look after encountering the Stolperstein placed in the pavement there (they were branded neo-Nazis on social media for daring to speak out).

1: https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/echtpaar-staakt...


"Why does confrontation with horror make you feel uneasy?"

...


ok, but so what? sometimes memory has to be painful, it means it feels real, alive. public spaces are naturally a container of public memory, traumas, joy etc.

it makes me feel connected with the history of the place, i don't see it as an "affront". And affront to whom??


guilty != uneasy

Don't argue like that. It is very disingenuous.


As a meta comment, this sort of verbal judo to put words in peoples mouths is really becoming common. Whenever I see a comment start with something like “It sounds like you are saying” I know I’m in for a wild ride.

I live in such a house. All houses in my street have them. Some have one or two, others have 10+. When we moved here I attended a ceremony across the street when they were putting new ones. During special events throughout the year people are cleaning them, put candles and flowers to remember. It think it is an excellent way to remember and understand our past.

I live in one of these houses and don't mind. Most of the time, you don't even think about it. In the few moments you do, it's just a reminder of what can go wrong.

I assume what you’re feeling is true but it’s a pretty unusual read on the memorial and I’m sure you’re right it is not a popular way to look at it. I suspect that’s why some people jump to assuming there’s some kind of secret agenda - actual anti-Semites use those sorts of arguments as well because they know they can’t say what they really think, and they are surely more common than people who feel guilty about living when forced to see memorials.

I gew up close to Nuremberg and like to take a walk to visit the dead whenever I'm there, as well as check out various Nazi grounds which ...are just part of our history. My family is also of polish origin (I was born and raised in Germany) and I've spent time in Cracow and Munich,so I make points of visiting the memorials whenever I visit friends there.

My perspective is: this isn't only for the dead, it's also for the living. This can happen again if we do not make a culture of remembering, and of not shying away from the uneasiness. It should make us feel uneasy that our neighbours, our family, ourselves might have participated in the holocaust, or fallen victim to them - that everyone involved was normal people. Having some parts of the land of the living dedicated to this when not even a century has passed is a small price to pay.

And as far as prices to pay go, Stolpersteine are literally the least possible intrusion. There would be a similar stone in the same place, the Stolperstein is simply made of a different material and burns the reminder into the city so that holocaust deniers and their ilk have a harder time. And like the name implies, the point is to not have a sanitized, dead, tucked away safely memorial "respectfully" shoved into some corner of a park - where it can be safely ignored.

"Never again" is not an empty slogan, or something that will happen automatically (as we can see with genocides and ethnic cleansings around the world continuing since then) it's something that we all have to work towards. The Stolpersteine are part of the Erinnerungskultur and in my opinion, some of the best parts.


wow. It's just a 10 cm by 10 cm plate, how can it bother anybody? I guess modern generation just can't stand monuments.

Here's my two cent counter-argument. Captialism is the biggest ruthless killing machine, whatever form it takes: nazism (Hitler was put to power by German industry/bourgeoisie), fascism (Mussolini advocated for State/Capital unification under "corporatism"), State capitalism (USSR was not very different from a people's perspective, with salaried work and gulags and political police), or ordinary liberalism (French republic orchestrated the colonization and slavery of many folks, even long after slavery was formally abolished, under the form of wage slavery).

Yet there's little memory of those massacres and injustices, except for casualties of war who get the whole triumphant nationalist ceremonies to spit on them. Maybe a plaque for the dead workers who built a mountain road/rail, or for the victims of the Commune of Paris/Lyon/wherever. It's very discreet, when it exists at all, when it doesn't fall into the narrative of the State.

I don't know about younger folks, but when i was in school we got told so little about the history and reasons for these people to have died, when talking about it at all (good luck finding a history teacher spending more than 1 hour on the Paris Commune or the Algerian independence War). And we got told exactly zero about the living popular history of our own neighborhood and how people defied those injustices.

Whenever i find a plaque, memorial, carving or whatever remembering the past (and its mistakes) i try to take some time to investigate it, and i often learn something interesting. So much happened right around us, yet we are told/taught so little, and in the cities urban renovation driven by gentrifiers makes sure this history stays hidden and that only advertisement and store fronts remain.

Is that really the environment we want: an efficient, emotionless and pastless business machine? I personally don't want that. I wouldn't go so far as to call you a NIMBY resident, but i certainly encourage you to think or read about popular history, gentrification, and what it means when the latter tries to erase the former.

As a side note, i don't know about the netherlands, but here in France it's common for neonazis to deface the memorials honoring the (jewish or not, but the jewish in particular) victims of nazism. I agree with you it's bothersome in some sense that jewish victims are honored more than other categories of nazism victims (tsigans, cripples, homosexuals, etc), but if the alternative is to make the neonazis who'd like to rewrite history happy, i'm very happy with the current state of things.


Please clarify what you mean by capitalism. I have a hard time following that part of your statement.

Disclaimer: i'm no political scientist

I would accept several definitions depending on the context. Here's a few definitions that would cover all these variations of capitalism:

- a society in which some people work and some don't

- a society where money/status exists and drives access to resources ; more often than not, the most necessary and least desired jobs are the least compensated

- a society in which production is not based on reflections from a local community about their needs, but dictated by a third-party (a boss, a State..)

A society that's not capitalist would follow the old anarchist tenet "From each according to their capabilities, to each according to their needs". Arguably, it should be possible to have "State communism" or "Stateless capitalism" but neither form has emerged throughout history (even for a brief period) and these formula are inherently oxymorons. Stateless communism (anarchism) is definitely a thing and has emerged many times throughout history although it's more often than not been crushed bloodily (see also Paris Commune, Ukraine Commune / Makhnovtchina, Spanish revolution, etc).


Wait, you’re lumping the USSR into “crimes of capitalism”.

As another commenter has pointed out, from a people's perspective, if you leave propaganda aside, there was really not drastic difference between USSR and capitalist countries. Depending on the local implementation, you may have had more or less women's rights or gay rights, or more or less free healthcare, but at the end of the day ordinary people are still destroying their bodies working in fields and factories all day long and going hungry at times while an enlightened elite will drown in luxury, and if those people dare question the status quo the police or secret political police will imprison, torture, or assassinate them.

Apart from the specific forms they take, there's not much difference between working life and political repression under USSR, and that under USA. For more reading on KGB-like political repression in the USA, i recommend to check out COINTELPRO. For more reading on how USSR was not communist, i recommend to read Emma Goldman's fantastic accounts of her time in Russia and her disillusions with the Bolsheviks, one of which is very brief entitled "There is no communism in Russia": https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/emma-goldman-there-i...

TLDR: In USSR there was no abolition of property to develop the commons. There was seizure of some forms of private property to become State property instead.


There was no free market, thus the USSR was not capitalist.

I can't believe I'm even arguing this point. It seems like some weird attempt to rewrite history with a narrative "if something went wrong with communism, its capitalisms fault".

No, the USSR collectivized the entire country, everything was state owned, the state determined what was produced (to the point of murdering citizens who tried to stop them). It was as close to communism as anyone has every gotten and it failed miserably.


> There was no free market, thus the USSR was not capitalist.

Of course there was a free market, at least after the NEP was implemented in 1921. Yes there were taxes, but in the USA too, that doesn't make USSR non-capitalist. It's like if you were to say 2022 China is not capitalist for some reasons: yes it has "communist" in the name, and no billionaires are not 100% above the law (contrary to the USA) but there is still money, class, property, gentrification, and everything else that defines capitalism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Economic_Policy

> I can't believe I'm even arguing this point. It seems like some weird attempt to rewrite history with a narrative "if something went wrong with communism, its capitalisms fault".

Well if you can't believe it, you probably rarely spoke with anarchists. That's the main historical disagreement between anarchists (and anti-authoritarian marxists who are a tiny minority but still exist) and marxist-leninists. The latter claim the "dictatorship of the proletariat" is the road to communism by seizing everything that defines capitalism (State, police, prisons, factories) and placing it under proletarian State governance, while the former consider it's impossible to build communism (freedom and equality for all) with the exploitative tools of capitalism.

I agree with you there's some history rewriting which took place, but it took place about a century ago and it was done by the bolsheviks who erased the memory of the militants who drove the revolution in early 1917 before they seized State power in October and massacred all who disagreed. They were a well-armed minority party who seized State power and applied a dictatorship. They rewrote history and called "counter-revolutionaries" everyone who disagreed, including proper communists who wanted all power to the people. The memories of Emma Goldman, Nestor Makhno, or Volin are really useful to understand the political context of that time, and whatever happened when Lenin and Trotsky (who was chief of the Red Army at that time) had the Communes of Cronstadt and Ukraine massacred in blood.

> No, the USSR collectivized the entire country

That's doubly false. First, social status and private property were never really abolished in the USSR (or rather, were reestablished shortly after being abolished), so you had luxury homes for the cadre of the Party and miserable living conditions for ordinary people. Second, the State nationalized everything, which has nothing to do with collectivization: the Bolsheviks actively repressed the local communities who tried to organize collectivization of land/resources (see also Cronstadt/Makhnovtchina i mentioned earlier).

Maybe give the Emma Goldman link i posted earlier a read? It's really short and you may learn a thing or two about history of that time and place. She's in a unique position because she was an ardent proponent of the 1917 revolution when she was in the USA, but when she was imprisoned and deported from the USA for anti-militarist propaganda, she was confronted with the reality of life under Bolshevik rule and how her anarchist comrades were hunted down by the regime. Her autobiography is a great read, but even the shorter pamphlets are informative.


Well, they are really similar, at some angle. As in capitalism, you promised freedoms, wealth and appreciation for you work hard enough. As in capitalism, all your work in going to entitled few, wars and keeping you enslaved. Also both are fiction and never existed.

> If you speak up about this, you are branded a clueless NIMBY resident or even an anti-Semite (there have been a few of such cases in the Netherlands).

Working as intended then. The stones are victors' propaganda meant to terminate any critical thinking related to the mythology of WWII necessary to reshape the occident into what we have today.

Nevermind the very real threat of international Jewish communism in the maelstrom of Weimar Germany. Do not question the destruction of national sovereignty post-Nuremberg to form "international law" (i.e. world gov't). And don't even think of criticizing anything at all to do with the ethnonationalist Jewish state of Israel and the endless aid and support the west gives them. These are borderline illegal thoughts in Europe.


We've banned this account for using HN primarily (exclusively, in the last year) for ideological battle. You can't do that here, and race and religious flamewars are particularly unwelcome.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Working as intended indeed,as they draw out anti-semitic comments even if you just discuss them, allowing us to debunk it https://www.facinghistory.org/holocaust-and-human-behavior/c... and be appropriately distrustful afterwards

(for context once flagged, the comment I responded to was spreading a variant of the Elders of Zion "jews try to control us via world government" conspiracy myth)


Many central european cities are full of these Stolpersteine and it is sometimes quite interesting where people lived that have been taken away — and what took their place decades later.

Typically people who live there, children from nearby schools or community projects look to keep them clean and polished, although depending on how remote that area is you might also "stolper" over some that haven't got the treatment for a while.

I think there is a real benefit to these small, decentralized "micromonuments", as they remind you of actual history in the many places where it happened. The genocidal horror of the nazis did not happen in some megalomaniac central spot after all, it was in every neighbourhood.


From my experience best cleaned with Elsterglanz Messing.

Related, I recommend following the account of the Auschwitz memorial: https://twitter.com/AuschwitzMuseum

Every day, they post pictures of a handful people who were detained (and almost always died) in the concentration camp, and seeing those in my feed is the virtual equivalent of Stolpersteine.

It's also sobering to think that, at the pace at which they post, it would take thousands of years to commemorate all the victims.


Having spent most of my adult life in Germany, I’ve seen hundreds of them, and I try to take a moment to think of the people they name.

And then reflect that Germans don’t have some special intrinsic evil that made them capable of doing this 80 years ago - every country is some hard times and a demagogue away from it.


There are so many places here in the USA we could do something similar to this, but it would be politicized to death in microseconds.

I remember looking at a group of four a while ago and noticed the next day that someone had polished the copper and put flowers around it. Very touching.

Priviledged victims. I dont think any other ethnic cleansing can ever come close to this amount of "remembering"

This made me think:

  "Unlike many other German cities, the city council of Munich in 2004 rejected the installation of Stolpersteine on public property, following objections raised by Munich's Jewish community... She objected to the idea that the names of murdered Jews be inserted in the pavement, where people might accidentally step on them.

  In other cities, permission for the project was preceded by long, sometimes emotional discussions. In Krefeld, the vice-chairman of the Jewish community, Michael Gilad, said that Demnig's memorials reminded him of how the Nazis had used Jewish gravestones as slabs for sidewalks.

  Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) has expressed reservations towards to project, noting that the form of the memorial, particularly its location on regular sidewalks, which are regularly stomped over by passersby, is not respectful. Another criticism from IPN has concerned inadequate level of detail provided on Stolpersteine, such as lack of context clarifying that most of the perpetrators of the Holocaust were Germans, and not Poles. IPN officials have repeatedly suggested that instead of Stolpersteine, the more respectful, informative and traditional form of remembrance that the IPN is willing to support."

Sidewalks are also very dirty (spit, dogs, trash, etc.) I think this would have been better by mounting them on the walls.

Many cultures consider stepping on someone's name, burial, or memorial horribly disrespectful.


Slightly related: Communists cut Jewish gravestones to cobbles and used it to pave Prague historic center. The stones were discovered during a revamp of the pavement and are now returned to Jewish cemetery.

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-46845131


So there was a borderline-neonazi comment i wanted to reply to, but it got flagged in the meantime. It argued that there was an international jewish-communist conspiracy in pre-WWII Germany, and that WWII served to establish the UN as a means to demolish national sovereignty, and that Israel is an ethnonationalist State. In case this person is still around reading, or someone else believes such things, here was my answer i couldn't post under the now-deleted comment:

Wow, i was not expecting to find a neonazi comment here on HN. To be clear, i agree with your criticism of Israel as ethnonationalist and despite immense propaganda efforts it's becoming harder and harder for Israel proponents to pretend otherwise. (And for the record, a lot of Israelis also make that point and struggle every day against their whole racist/colonial machine)

However, the threat of "jewish communism" (judeo-bolshevism as they called it back then) is a spectre invented by nazis and fueled by more ancient conspiracy theories such as the protocol of the elders of zion (spread by Russian political police in early 20th century). Just like today, at least here in France, the neo-nazis and other fascists and warning of the threat of "islamo-leftism", and inventing debilitating theories about "reverse racism" and "reverse colonization" and "white genocide".

As for "world government" and the destruction of national sovereignty, two things:

1. International agreements such as the UN have on the contrary formalized the concept of national sovereignty and non-intervention

2. Of course those principles are never respected and the big empires will do whatever is in their interests: this was already the case long before the UN with the League of Nations, and even long before that, such as when the Berlin conference (19th century) formally divided Africa into territories to be ruled by the colonial empires. The reason there are straight borders on African maps is because some european aristocrats who knew nothing about these territories sat around a table with a ruler and traced lines.

To be clear, your thoughts are not illegal, but they are very wrong. I encourage you to get a better understanding of history from different sources, and maybe realize that Israel is not much more than any other colonial empire of today. In fact, many of their repression/counter-insurgency techniques are straight out of French doctrine established during the Algerian war of independence. So why are some people desperately focusing on Israel as the driving force of evil around the world? From some arab/muslim community, i understand they can relate to the victims of Israeli colonialism... but from white westerners (no idea if that's your case), it certainly plays into the old antisemite trope of an imaginary international jewish alliance trying to control the planet.


As a German I think it's weird the article starts with "A Stolperstein is..." and then directly refers to the art project of Gunter Demning.

That's not what "a" Stolperstein is. It's a common phrase in German about a stone that makes you stumble on an otherwise even/walkable road/pathway. It's also used in the metaphorical sense, if something makes you stumble/fall on your metaphorical way of life.

No German would think of the word Stolperstein and the art project as synonyms. In fact I hadn't heard about it until today. The German wikipedia introduction is clearer on that and starts with "The Stolpersteine are a project of artist Gunter Demning" and I think the English wikipedia should be adjusted accordingly.


One popular solution for that is having a {{See Wiktionary}} tag on the top of the article that adds the text 'For a definition of the term "Stolperstein", see the Wiktionary entry Stolperstein.'

I think the second paragraph should just be the first. (Or perhaps somehow keeping the pronunciation guide etc. in the first for prominence, since that's the usual Wikipedia style.)

Fair criticism. You should edit it!
voz_ 8 days ago [flagged] | | [–]

Insanely important, especially with the renewed rise of antisemitism - sad to see this downvoted.

It's top of the HN front page, it's not getting downvoted. In fact you can’t downvote a submission.

Nobody is like, "Oh no! This baddie i just killed could be a Stolperstein in the future". Remembrance is one thing, self-reflection is another.

People will genocide their enemies and be like, "Thank god we aren't like the Nazis", or worse, "Trust us the guy we just killed was a Nazi".

None of this helps with moral reasoning.


It hasn't even been 100 years and already it is relatively easy to find people who are genuinely and openly sympathetic to the Nazis

Even people who continue to stand by their racist statement that there are "very fine people on both sides", and continue to have the fanatical support of the majority of the Republican party.

And ironically this is becoming more common in those countries who pride themselves of eradicating Naziism in WW2.

[flagged]


Question: Would you be so kind an elaborate what you mean by your comment regarding the Stolpersteine that his thread is about? I personally find your comment ambigous at best and berating at worst. But what do I know.

[flagged]


> Will be very hard to walk in russia.

That's not how these work, they are places at the home where the victim lived. Second, you are starting a flame war and being very off-topic.


They work how we want them to work. And nothing could be more on-topic than this right now. What the fuck is the point of remembering and saying "never again" if not to stop what is happening right now in front of our eyes?

Second, there can be no flame wars about this. Everyone agrees on the above.


Russian atrocities in Ukraine are horrific, but they are certainly not even close to the cold extermination machine and bureaucracy employed by nazis against Jews, Poles, Homosexuals, etc.

>close to the cold extermination machine and bureaucracy employed by nazis against Jews, Poles, Homosexuals, etc.

I don't understand where do you see any difference. Russia methodically conducts genocide and ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians that Putin announced in his original war speech. Russia has unleashed total terror on Ukrainians on occupied territories - anybody showing any Ukrainian ethnical or political allegiance or having even just former association with Ukrainian armed forces or government is arrested/kidnapped (and some of them are already known to have been tortured, killed while for many nothing is known) by the Russian SS force "Russian Guard". And for bureaucracy - the "Russian Guard" has been disappearing a lot of those people according to the already prepared lists. And that given that 12 million of Ukrainians have already been forced to run away by the bombings and the threat of occupation to Europe and West Ukraine (including many LGBT people who didn't risk to get the Russian, in particular Chechen - as there is large Chechen mercenary force fighting on the Russian side - treatment).

And i don't see any difference here from the German Nazi actions on the occupied USSR territories back then. And Russia doesn't do such things in Ukraine today for the first time - just look up for example USSR in Poland in 1939.


For many victims we'd not even know - for example about 50000 civilians have been killed by Russian forces in Mariupol and many bodies are inside the ruined buildings which Russia is just demolishing right now without taking the bodies out.

A lot of people on occupied territories - government/municipal officials, former military, journalists, activists, etc. - have already been kidnapped by the Russian SS force ("Russian Guard") and nobody knows and may never know the fate of the many of them.

About million of people have been moved into Russia - they are moved through "filtration camps" where those who deemed "nationalist" (anti-Russian posts in FB/Twitter for example or having family members who have fought on Ukrainian side) are filtered out and again fate unknown. The fate of the rest is officially some resettlement in Russia though there is no way to account for all of them.

Also a note about the Putin regime actions to erase the memory of the millions of victims of another mass killing - during recent years Russia de-facto outlawed (assigned impossible to exist with status of "foreign agent" which led to the organization closing) to the "Memorial" organization the main work of which was maintaining the public memory of the victims of the Stalin repressions.


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Wow. Taking a fringe opinion even within the German/international Jewish community and posting as if this was the majority opinion is interesting at least.

Please don't make it into a flame war. Because I strongly believe this is a topic that needs to be discussed. Esp. given the background in Germany with gravestones as plaster.

But also it needs to be acknowledged that the project does absolutely not intend a "mit Füßen treten" ("to trample upon") mentality towards history, memory or Jews.

It is totally valid and important to discuss if the benefits outweigh the feeling of some that it might enable people to "trample upon the Jewish names". I personally tend to lean towards the benefits. But I can totally understand people on the other side of the fence.

Implying that this is a majority opinion on the other hand is imho definitely not the right way to go about it.


In the spirit of beneficial discussion: Nowhere I implied that that was a majority opinion with Jews. It was - however - a popular opinion of influential members of Jewish organisations within Munich, back when the ban was originally enacted.

They are called "tripping cobbles", but they are actually flush with the rest of the cobbles - everything else would be a huge hazard for people not watching where they walk.

So I don't think the "grave insult" applies here, or else why would the Stolpersteine have been inserted into the middle of the boardwalk of streets with lots of pedestrian traffic? If you're in a hurry and don't look down, you will not even know they are there. And if you read the artistic statement, that's exactly what they are meant to be - a part of daily life, not a sculpture to stand in front of and study.

Of course, if someone wanted to insult the dead, they could make a show of repeatedly stepping on them. I don't think it would provoke much of a reaction other than people thinking "what a pitiful loser".




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