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AROUND SLOVAKIA

Memorial tiles placed in front of Holocaust victims’ houses

The cities of Banská Bystrica and Brezno joined many others in 11 countries on October 31, when, as part of the Stolpersteine project, they placed memorial tiles in front of the houses of those who were deported during the Holocaust.

The cities of Banská Bystrica and Brezno joined many others in 11 countries on October 31, when, as part of the Stolpersteine project, they placed memorial tiles in front of the houses of those who were deported during the Holocaust.

Stolperstein means, both literally and symbolically, stumbling block. The originator of the idea, German artist Gunter Demnig, started making the tiles in 1993, and in 1995, the first Stolpersteine were placed in pavements in Berlin, the SITA newswire wrote.

Demnig was also present at the event in Slovakia. In Brezno and Banská Bystrica, this initiative was organised by the Antikomplex.sk civic association, co-founded by Jakub Lunter and Andrej Čierny. “I saw these stones in Prague, where I used to live,” Lunter told SITA, “and I liked it. Currently, there are several hundred of them in nine Czech cities. The stone, at least symbolically, returns the houses’ former inhabitants to the places where they used to live, to the common everyday urban rush from which they were forcibly taken. Unlike a bust or a big statue, a stone does not claim much room in the public space. We are convinced that such an inobtrusive commemoration can tell a story about the names and inhabitants to a passer-by on a normal urban day,” he said.

Three Stolpersteine were placed in Brenzo in M. R. Štefánik square, in front of the house and delicatessen of the businessman and bryndza [traditional unfermented Slovak sheep cheese] producer Hugo Mittleman. Four more stones were placed on October 31 in Banská Bystrica: one on Dolná Street to commemorate Ernest Šeboek, a businessman, sponsor and supporter of ice-hockey and founder of a local sports club; and three in SNP square to honour the Keme family, owners of the famous haberdashery U Kemov. The square-shaped tiles are 10 centimetres in size, with the upper layer consisting of a brass plate with the name, birth date and date of deportation of the victim (with the date and place of death, if known). In total, there are 38,000 Stolpersteine in 11 countries worldwide.

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