Stumbling Stones unveiled in Antwerp to commemorate victims of Nazi persecution

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    The city of Antwerp has approved the installation of 50 new memorials to commemorate victims of the Nazi persecution during the war, in addition to the existing 107 so-called “stumbling stones” already in place.

    Under the Nazi occupation of the Flemish city, people were ordered to turn in Jews living in the city. Jan De Ridder, a police officer since 1932, was officially obliged to turn in Jews on his beat in 1942, an order he risked his life for by ignoring. He was later deported to Buchenwald, where he died soon after, in 1942.

    A commemoration stone now lies outside a house in the Gallifortlei in Deurne, Antwerp, which was De Ridder’s former home.

    The plaque commemorates his resistance against the Nazi order. Many other police officers in the province were known to resist the order, sometimes helping Jews escape when they were being herded together to be taken to the Kazerne Dossin in Mechelen.

    The memorial stones were made by artist Gunter Demnig, whose stones also ornate the streets of other European countries where similar events took place.

    “These stones have to do with the recognition of the past,” said historian Herman Van Goethem. “A school in Grotehondstraat, for example, where more than 400 people were herded in August 1942, did not know what had happened there until five years ago,” he concluded.

    ( European Jewish Congress)

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