Amsterdam couple drops lawsuit against Holocaust memorial stone after social media outrage
An Amsterdam couple that filed a lawsuit to remove a 'stumbling stone' - a memorial stone placed in memory of specific Jews deported during World War II - from in front of their home, dropped their objections after facing a storm of criticism on social media, the Volkskrant reports.
The stumbling stones, or Stolpersteine, are the brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig. For years he's been traveling across Europe placing plaques in front of houses where Jews lived before they were deported by the Nazis. The small memorial consists of a 10 x 10 centimeter stone with a brass plaque stating the Jewish victim's name, date of birth and death and the name of the camp in which he or she was murdered. The aim is to make the magnitude and triviality of the Holocaust tangible and to commemorate the victims at the place they were snatched form their lives. Demnig also likes the idea of bringing relatives 'back together' by placing their stones together after they were murdered in different camps.
Amsterdam currently has about 400 stumbling stones. The one that caused a commotion this weekend is located in the Concertgebouwbuurt to commemorate a Jewish accountant who was killed in Bergen-Belsen at age 51. A ruling of the Administrative Court, which refers the case to the civil court, shows that the unnamed Amsterdam couple feels that being confronted by the stone every day is too large an 'emotional burden'. They also claim that their privacy is affected by passersby who stop at the stone and 'intrusively' look at their home and that the stone affects the atmosphere in the street.
Over the weekend the case got a lot of media attention, reaching as far as Israel. On social media the couple faced a storm of criticism and accusations of being neo-Nazis. They therefore decided to withdraw their objections and gave a statement to the Volkskrant explaining why they wanted to get rid for the stone.
"We are stopping the lawsuit because we are shocked at the way this has been publicized and the misunderstandings that arose from this", the unnamed couple said to the newspaper. "Because of the death of our child, the Stolperstein signifying our house, has too much impact on us. Since we started living here, we have saved a document with the handwritten name of the deported resident in a prominent place in our home in memory. We find the commemoration of all victims of the Holocaust very important and also do it continuously and respectfully. We do not want to hurt anyone, and find it very unfortunate that this happened."