The power of one person


For me, two of the  most powerful books on the Holocaust are The Winds of War and War and Reremembrance.  Reading about Aaron Jastrow, and his niece Natalie, being sucked into, eventually, the  Auschwitz concentration camp is excruciating even though it was not the main plot, as I recall. or is it real. But there is something about giving a face and a personality to one -OK, two in this case – poor, doomed soul that packs an  immense punch.

I remembered reading that Margret Meed once said in an answer to a question on what can one person do? Can one person or a small group of thoughtful people change the world? Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. (It tuns out that is not exactly what she said but it is pretty close.) I was reminded of that when I read a comment to a ta-nehisi-coates blog. The comment said

One of the most sobering things I've seen here in Germany hasn't been at the concentration camps. It's on the streets of essentially random cities, towns and villages. The paving stones in front of certain houses have been engraved to acknowledge that the residents of the house were taken away to X concentration camp. One stone per person, often several generations of a family. Birth dates are given as are dates of death . . . if known. One simply can't walk past something like without thinking what . . . how . . . shit.

The pavers are called stolpersteins and they are by a German artist, Gunter Demnig. Each brass paver – really a brass cap made by the artist – has the name of  a woman, man or child who was  deported by the Nazis. By himself, at first but now with others helping, Deming came up with the idea of turning the millions and millions of people killed by the Nazis – primarily Jewish people, but also, Roma, homosexuals, retarded people -  back into real people. Back into neighbors that lived next door or, even, in your home.









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