dmasur's picture


My wife, Jane, and I moved to Schöningen, Germany in 1972.  At that time we had no idea that this small town was the birth place of her uncle,  William Cohen.  In fact, it was uncanny that Jane ended up teaching in the same school William graduated from. When we wrote to her aunt that we were in Schöningen, she proceded to tell us about the wonderful times she had walking with her husband "in den Elm", a beautiful forest outside of the town.  We had made a few inquiries about her uncle and in a matter of hours the news was all over town that one of the Jewis families had returned to Schöningen.  When we applied for our work permits, by German law we were required to self identify a religion, because a portion of our taxes went to the religious institution of our choice.  We put down "Jude". There were two people in the office at that time, one in her twenties and the other in his late 50's.  He was quite distraught and quickly said please put down "no preference" as he was afraid that once again something would come of being identified as a Jew.  The young lady in the office quickly chastised him and said that this was not the Germany of his youth, "We live in a different time."  she said.  Even twenty five years after the war there was apprehension that anti-semitism could rear its ugly head once again.  However, it was clear to see that there was a divide between the older and younger generations.  Today, 65+ years later,  Schöningen is acknowledging, in a very public and permanent manner, the slaughter of innocent people, citizens of their own town.  In the video you can view by clicking on the link below, they are laying "Stolpersteine", commemorative plaques made of brass laid in the sidewalk in front of the house of the Jews who perished.  Upon laying the plaques, members of the team said  "Es ist sehr bewegend und emotional, sich mit diesen Schicksalen auseinander zu setzen, aber unser Ziel ist es, den ermordeten Schöninger Juden mit der Setzung der Stolpersteine ihren Namen und ihre Würde zurück zu geben."  ""It is very moving and emotional dealing with the fates of these people; however, our goal is to give back to the murdered Jews their names and their dignity by laying these commemorative plaques."  The video of the laying of the plaques is very emotional for me considering my personal connection and the fact that our house where we lived is actually on the street and can be seen in the video



dmasur's picture


After a long flight of 15 hours we finally arrived.  CSA Begins and I haven't slept for 48 hours.  Must stay awake, must stay awake!!!!! The first day is extremely informative.  The mix of people could not be better.  The synergy that is produced with this type of cultural diversity and profession diversity will create wonderful projects.  The food is suprisingly good.  Got to go to sleep to remain conscious for tomorrow.  I have a wonderful room mate.  He brought a bottle of Polish Vodka.  We talk until 1:30 in the morning.  Got to get some sleep.  OMG will not be able to function.

dmasur's picture

Today was an awesome experience. To see the memorials to the Berlin Wall was an emotional experience for me. Since I am a product of the "Cold War" and was in the US Army during this time, I had some of the same feelings return that I had in the late 60's and early 70's. The guard tower that is at this memorial site is exactly the same kind that was 100 meters outside of my kitchen window when my wife and I lived in Germany.
Looking through the spaces in a reconstructed Berlin Wall showed us what it was like looking out into freedom from oppression. Next we went to a Soviet Memorial park that was very impressive. The artwork was massive but had a more intimate personal impact nonetheless. We then went to the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung and began the meetings for the day. The presentations we top notch. It gave me some new ideas and affirmed some of the ideas that I already have in place creating or modifying curricula. I feel exhausted today. Going to bed now.

dmasur's picture

The German government is placing "Stolpersteine" in front of dwellings in which a Jew had previously lived before being murdered during the holocaust.  They are fitting memorials to the lives lost in insane times.  The small plaques laid in the sidewalks are litterally set there to cause people to figuratively "stumble" over the deaths of the innocent.   When we get lost in our daily lives, we easily shove these tragic lives into the recesses of our collective memories.  These Stolpersteine are constant reminders, continuously pulling our memories from the back of our minds placing them squarely in front, "in our face".  WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

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