Should you find the opportunity to visit Einbeck, Keene’s “Partner-City,” and take a stroll through its charming streets, you may have occasion to stumble across a Stolperstein — quite literally, a “stumbling stone.”
Implanting Stolpersteins in the streets of German cities is a project of the Cologne artist Gunter Demnig, and by no means limited to Einbeck. Beginning in 1996, Demnig created small, roughly 4-inch by 4-inch cobblestone-sized brass remembrance plaques for the Third Reich’s innocent targets. Set into the pavement of sidewalks in front of those buildings where Nazi victims had once lived, they call attention to a specific individual while encouraging reflection on the scope of National Socialist crimes. Not limited to Germany, the “stumbling stones” may be found today in France, Belgium, Hungary and Poland — indeed, more than 56,000 of them are now in 22 European countries.
On May 24, the day before I returned to the United States with a couple of Keene State colleagues and a small group of students, Einbeck’s daily newspaper, the Einbecker Morgenpost, printed an announcement that a Stolperstein would be placed the next day in front of a house at Rabbethgestrasse 4 (4 Rabbethge Street). The address was the last “freely chosen residence” of Rosa Steinberg. Born in 1864 in Einbeck, Rosa and her two sisters had opened a haberdashery in their hometown in 1896. After selling the business in 1917 (it was the third year of World War I, and one sister had by then died), Rosa settled into the house on Rabbethge Street, which she’d recently purchased. It remained her home until October 1939 when she was expelled and, stripped of most possessions, forced to relocate to dramatically reduced quarters on Tiedexer Strasse.
Here she shared a room with two other women, the sisters Bertha and Else…