On a tour of the German Medieval but now modern city of Regensburg, our tour guide clustered us around two bronze-covered bricks imbedded in a cobblestone street. As we peered at the stones, the guide explained that their purpose was to connect us with a tragic story.
The stones are called Stolperstein—stumbling stones. Thousands of them can be found embedded in streets in Germany. They commemorate the connection of a person to a place, usually where they lived, sometimes where they worked: a person who was torn from his or her daily life to be shipped to a concentration camp and killed. The hope is that stumbling stones will personalize a story, that our hearts will consider what happened to a real person.
Our guide, who grew up in Regensburg, added that as a child in school he had read many times about what happened in Germany during World War II. But reading had not been nearly as impactful for him as hearing two Jewish Holocaust survivors from Regensburg come to his classroom and share their stories.
Personal stories can form stumbling stones that cause us to pause, remember, and appreciate.
Copyright © 2013 by Mary Beth Lagerborg