Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Stolpersteine in Frankenthal

Laura and I went to Frankenthal (Pfalz) on 18th August 2014 for a ceremony at which the artist Gunter Demnig placed commemorative Stolpersteine for my grandfather (Dr F.A. Mann) and great-grandfather (Dr. R. Mann) outside Westliche Ringstraße 9, the house in which they used to live.

Westliche Ringstraße 9
The Mayor of Frankethal, Herr Theo Wieder, made a very good speech in which he emphasised the importance of learning from the past.  We have enjoyed a long period of peace in Europe, but events in the world around us show how fragile this is -  we must understand through knowledge of history the necessity as individuals to make moral choices.   Laura said to me later that her history lessons at her (British) school  are just about facts - and how much better it would be for it to be about ethical responsibility too.
Oberbürgermeister Wieder
After laying Stolpersteine at two other houses of former Jewish residents of Frankenthal (the Rahlson family - died in concentration camps; and the Schottland family - fled to USA) Gunther Demnig then moved on to the Mann family house. 

Gunter Demnig installing Stolpersteine for Mann family
There was a short further speech about the history of the Mann family (many generations of bankers, lawyers and judges) given by Herr Herbert Baum, of the Association for the memorial of Jews in Frankenthal (website here) He seemed to know more about the history of my family than I did!  The audience included the Frankenthal Town Archivist, Herr Gerhard Nestler (leaning on umbrella).
Herbert Baum giving a speech
Here are the Stolpersteine installed in the pavement:


And finally, a photo of me and Laura with the amazing Gunther Demnig.  Over the last 20 years he has installed 48,000 Stolpersteine across the countries in Europe from which minorities were persecuted by the Nazis.  He's created something that is both an extraordinary work or art, and a powerful piece of social and political action.  His website is here. and more info about his work is here

Gunter, me and Laura at Westliche Ringstraße