Author Talk (Un)Forgotten Neighbors: Memorial Stones in Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Mario & Reinhard Photo: Anka Vorig © Reinhard Pester


Goethe-Institut New York

Reinhard Pester and Mario Dittrich will talk about Stolpersteine artist Gunter Demnig, present the work of the Initiative Stolpersteine Wittenberg and relay some of the exemplary stories behind these memorial stones.
Since the 1990s, artist Gunter Demnig has been embedding Stolpersteine (literally stumbling stones) into the sidewalks in front of the last known addresses of Holocaust victims. These small, brass memorial plaques, with brief biographical details of former inhabitants, remind passersby of the fate of those who were murdered or committed suicide during the Nazi regime in Germany.
Gunter Demnig has laid 30 Stolpersteine in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, a small town in Saxony-Anhalt. The Initiative Stolpersteine Wittenberg was co-founded by Reinhard Pester and Mario Dittrich in 2008 to honor Jewish citizens that lost their lives during the Holocaust. As of October 2018, 70,000 Stolpersteine had been laid in 24 European countries, making the Stolpersteine in Wittenberg part of the largest decentralized memorial in the world. The Wittenberg initiative wants to ensure that young people and international guests can learn the history behind these Stolpersteine.

In 2016, Reinhard Pester published a brochure about the Wittenberg Stolpersteine with the title (Un)vergessene Nachbarn. The English edition, (Un)Forgotten Neighbors, was translated with the help of two English classes at the Luther Melanchthon High School in Wittenberg under the guidance of Fulbright scholar Shaydon B. Ramey and published a year later. History became living history, the students developed relationships to the persons and biographies they were researching, and so the Stolpersteine inspired the beginning of a new project.

Reinhard Pester was born in 1968 in Glauchau and studied in Meißen. He has worked with the youth in the Landkreis Wittenberg since 1992. He has published multiple articles in the Landkreis Wittenberg’s Heimatkalendar and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Initiative Stolpersteine Wittenberg.
Mario Dittrich was born in Wittenberg in 1965. He learned type setting and founded his own publishing house, Drei Kastanien Verlag, in 1991, for which he writes, translates and publishes. He is a co-founder of the Initiative Stolpersteine Wittenberg.

This event is part of Wunderbar Together: The Year of German-American Friendship 2018/19, an initiative of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the Goethe-Institut, with the support of the Federation of German Industries (BDI).