ZAGREB, Oct 1, 2020 (Hina) — On Thursday, Zagreb installed its first Holocaust memorial. The memorials, known “stumbling blocks” or “Stolpersteine”, commemorate victims of the Ustasha and Nazi regimes in World War II Croatia. The brass plaque at 29 Gundulićeva, commemorates Lea Deutsch, the Jewish child theatre prodigy, who lived there.
This is the first “stumbling block” to appear in the Croatian capital. Rijeka also installed their first stumbling block yesterday.
The city of Zagreb installed two more blocks later the same day. By the end of November, twenty blocks will appear outside houses once occupied by Jews in Zagreb, who were victims of the Holocaust.
‘Stumbling Blocks’ Launched by German Artist Gunter Demnig
German artist Gunter Demnig and the Berlin-based New Society for Visual Arts launched the “Stumbling Blocks” project in 1996. Since then, cities throughout Europe have installed over 75,000 memorials to commemorate Jews killed in the Holocaust. They also remember other Holocaust victims, including the Roma and LGBITQ community.
The project installs a commemorative brass plaque in the sidewalks at the last residential address of each Holocaust victim. The plaques display the victim’s name, other basic information and the reason that they were prosecuted or killed.
The Centre for the Promotion of Tolerance and Preservation of Holocaust Remembrance coordinated the installation of the first “stumbling blocks” in Zagreb. They also worked with the Beth Israel Jewish community from Zagreb and the Stiftung – Spuren foundation, established by Demnig.
Project Encourages Pursuit of Truth, Addresses Anti-Semitism
Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Culture and Media Minister, said that the project would contribute to better education about the Holocaust. It also encourages pursuit of the truth, which is the only guarantee of survival of the modern democratic European society.
She added that her ministry would continue supporting initiatives by all associations and communities which share those values and promote them.
German Ambassador Robert Richard Klinke, who attended the event, expressed concern about growing anti-Semitism worldwide. He also called attention to the fact that there is less current information and knowledge about Nazi crimes. The ambassador added that this is cause for concern and emphasized the importance of remembrance.
Several ‘Stumbling Blocks’ Installed in Zagreb
Kotel Da-Don, Rabbi of the Beth Israel Jewish community, emphasized that the “stumbling block” project promotes the remembrance of victims. He believes that remembrance, rather than counting injustices, will help ensure a peaceful and better future.
Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor, MP Vesna Bedeković, as envoy of Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and Zagreb Deputy Mayor Jelena Pavičić-Vukičević also attended the ceremony.
The city installed another “stumbling block” for Miroslav Salom Freiberger, the Zagreb chief rabbi in WWII, at 8 Amruševa Street. He saved many members of his community. However, he was killed at Auschwitz right after disembarking a train because he objected to Nazi brutality.
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