Stolpersteine-Holocaust history on your doorstep.

A Stolpersteinplural Stolpersteine; literally means “stumbling stone”, metaphorically a “stumbling stone” is a sett-size, ten-centimetre (3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution..

Created by the artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, Stolpersteine are brass-topped cobblestones embedded in the pavement outside a home or building of significance pertaining to a Holocaust victim.

There are already over 91,000 stolpersteine in over 700 locations. Many cities and villages across Europe, not only in Germany, have expressed an interest in the project. Stones have already been laid in many places in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, in the Czech Republic, in Poland (seven in Wrocław, one in Słubice), in Ukraine (Pereiaslav), in Italy (Rome) and Norway (Oslo). Today the first stolpersteine will be placed in Dublin, Ireland.

The first Irish stumbling stones were embedded at St Catherine’s National School in south Dublin by their creator, German artist Gunter Demnig.

Founding trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, Lynn Jackson, explained that in the early 20th century Ireland had a Jewish population of around 5,000 people and the area around the South Circular Road and Portobello in Dublin was once known as “Little Jerusalem” as there was a vibrant Jewish community there.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said the stones will commemorate six Irish victims of the Holocaust: Ettie Steinberg Gluck, her husband Wojteck Gluck, and their baby son Leon, along with Isaac Shishi, Ephraim Saks and his sister, Jeanne (Lena) Saks.

I just want to highlight the youngest of the group.

Leon was born on the 28 March 1939,in Paris. Unfortunately, the threat of violence spread throughout France in 1940 and this put them in danger. From 1940 to 1942 the small family was in hiding, moving from place to place, rarely staying still for more than two nights at a time.

Back in Dublin, the Steinbergs, Leon’s grandparents, worked desperately to save their daughter Ettie by getting her and her family back to Ireland. Pleas were sent to the Vatican and the Red Cross for information, but to no avail. They eventually managed to secure three visas from the British Home Office in Belfast and sent them to Toulouse, where the family was in hiding. However, they arrived one day too late for Ettie, Vogtjeck and little Leon. The Glucks had been caught in a round-up of Jews on the 2 September 1942 and were put on a train to Auschwitz.


Would I have the same courage as Benjamin Blankenstein?


What would I do? Or, how much courage would I have? These are questions that haunt me in relation to the Holocaust? Questions which are becoming more and more relevant these days.

There was a time where I would jeopardize my life to defend my principles in relation to justice and the treatment of my fellow man. But now that I have a family of my own and people who depend on me, that dynamic has changed, I am not so sure what I would do now and I would not have an answer for the 2 questions at the start of this blog.

I am sure Benjamin Blankenstein must have asked himself similar questions, but he answered those questions by taking action.

Benjamin Blankenstein was a teacher at the local Christian elementary school in the town of Soestdijk (prov. Utrecht) in the Netherlands.He was married to Maria who stayed at home as a home maker , on Septenber 10, 1940 the couple had a baby girl,Fieke.Benjamin was 26 at the time, Maria was a few years older.

In 1943 Benjamin became an active member of the  resistance , part of the countrywide Landelijke Organisatie (LO),Him and his wife also had a 2nd baby daughter,Betty, that year.

Blankenstein familie

The LO was an organization that assisted both Jews in hiding, and non-Jews wanted for resistance activity or evading forced labor in Germany.

Notwithstanding the gave dangers they could face the Blankensteins took the decision to hide Jews in their own home.

It was brought to Benjamin’s attention that the  Bernstein family from nearby Soest had been betrayed at an earlier hiding place. Benjamin and Maria gave refuge to Henry Bernstein, his wife Martha and their 14-year-old son Rolf, Jewish refugees from Düsseldorf, Germany.

On September 3, 1942 the Dutch police had issued the following statement.

“The mayor of Soest requested that the stateless Jews Henry Bernstein, his wife and their son Rolf Bernstein, all residing at 35a Kerkpad NZ in Soest and having violated the regulations by changing their place of residence without permission, be located, detained and brought to trial.”

The 2 families got on wonderful.In the evenings Benjamin would school Rolf so he would not fall behind in his education.

Unfortunately the families were betrayed. On June 5, 1944, while Benjamin was  at school. The police arrested the Bernsteins and looted the Blankensteins home About half an hour later , Benjamin was arrested at the school, and taken to prison in Amsterdam . Later he was sent to to the Vught concentration camp, aka Herzogenbusch concentration camp.


On September 5, 1944, with the Allied Forces approaching, Blankenstein was moved to camps in Germany and eventually died

in Bergen-Belsen on February 24, 1945.  Nine days earlier hsi 3rd daughter Thea was born.

The Bernsteins were taken from the Blankenstein home and deported. Henry and Rolf were murdered in Auschwitz.

Martha Bernstein survived the war. After  her return from the camp, ill and alone, she was again welcomed by Maria Blankenstein.

On March 27, 2005, Yad Vashem recognized Benjamin Blankenstein and Maria Suzanna Blankenstein-van Klingeren, as Righteous Among the Nations.

Benjamin en Maria

On August 6. 2010. De city of Soest placed a Stolperstein, a stumbling stone, which is a memorial to remember Benjamin Blankenstein. The memorial was placed outside their home on the  Van Straelenlaan 31.

Stolper stein

In 2006 Henry and Rolf Bernstein also got  memorials in the form of Stolper steine in their home in Hilden near Dusseldorf.



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Yad Vashem

Joods Monument