Stumbling blocks: city council postpones decision

Two years ago, the prichsenstadt city council agreed in principle to the laying of the stumbling stones in order to keep alive the memory of the jewish citizens of prichsenstadt who were murdered by the nazis. In the past two years, 14 stumbling blocks have already been laid by the city under the direction of the old prichsenstadt association.

That’s why the association’s proposal, which the town council discussed on thursday evening, for a further stone in the altenschonbach district seemed at first glance to be a matter of form: a memorial stone at a central location near the church and the war memorial instead of several stumbling stones. Because the murdered jewish citizens had lived mostly in side streets, and not everywhere were and are sidewalks available. The association assured the city that it would not incur any costs, but hoped for logistical support.

But as the debate progressed, it became clear that the supposedly formal issue raised so many questions that the city council postponed the decision. The memorial stone is not, as the council members and others suspected, several stones protruding slightly from the asphalt, but a three-part, 1.30 meter high monument made of shell limestone. The association wants to erect it in a place where, as council member harald ruckert said, "the village festival takes place, and it also obstructs the runners at the schlossberglauf".

Most skepticism was voiced by helmut hummer, who lives in altenschonbach. "As a local councillor, i was not involved in this decision at all," he said, "and i don’t know who from the evangelical church community the association wants to talk to."He fears that the people of mitzburg could reject this kind of commemoration in the form of a real monument at this site, and it was also decided over the heads of the citizens to place the stone there.

The mayor of prichsenstadt, rene schlehr, replied that there had been no "approval" for the stumbling blocks in the old town. "The owners had to declare their agreement in writing that a stumbling block could be placed in front of their house," continues schlehr. He agreed with hummer and other council members, however, insofar as they did not get to see a photo of the memorial stone until the meeting and were therefore unable to prepare themselves for the issue. "I only received the photo myself on the day of the meeting," said schlehr. Thus, the councilors lacked concrete specifications as to what this memorial stone should look like. Stefan deppisch, who, like hummer, lives in altenschonbach, saw the basic idea of the stolpersteine as "missed" in this memorial stone.

The search for an alternative location also proved difficult. In front of the former synagogue, as ursula reiche mused aloud, it is too far away from the center, and putting a memorial plaque on the synagogue, as ruckert noted, was not enough for the councilors as a fitting reminder of the murdered jewish fellow burghers. They had, as reiche reported, contributed to a lively community life. In the end, the association’s proposal raised so many questions that the council’s decision was postponed by a vote of 16-0 at the request of the mayor.