The city of Munich has finally decided to lift a ban on the building of a Holocaust memorial there just in time for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Also, an American appellate court has refused to hear a case brought by Holocaust survivors.
Ten years ago Munich put a stop to a project called Stolpersteine (“stumbling blocks”) in which brass plaques were placed in the ground all over the city. The plaques bore the names of residents who were murdered in the Holocaust and were placed in front of their former homes. When the ban was imposed some plaques were actually removed shortly after having been put in place. Now the project, which is being conducted across Europe, can resume.
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The project was begun by Sculptor Gunther Demnig in 1996.
The ban came as a result of complaints from even Jewish residents who felt that people walking over the plaques would be disrespectful to the victims’ memories. The 50 thousandth such plaque was recently installed.
Meanwhile an American Appeals court in Chicago has upheld the dismissal of lawsuits brought by Holocaust survivors against a Hungarian bank. The court ruled that the plaintiffs must first exhaust all of their option in Hungary before filing in America.
The opinion was written by Judge David Hamilton and said, “The evidence in the record supports understandable concerns about whether plaintiffs can receive a fair hearing in Hungary. But those concerns remain too speculative to justify taking this case from Hungarian courts.”
Konrad Cailteux, an attorney for one of the defendants, Hungarian State Railways, said “The Hungarian judicial system is a well-functioning system. I believe the plaintiffs can get a fair hearing.”