Learning About Jewish History in Marburg

David Lawhorn ’15 – Waking up at 6 AM is no easy task for a college student, but having a host family that provides a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and wonderful bread sure makes it easier. After eating my hearty breakfast, I was off to the Sprachschule, or language school. After an intensive couple hours of language instruction, I was excited to go out with Dr. Tucker and Dr. Redding. Also, we had a surprise visit from our former German Language Lab instructor, Maria.

German Professor Greg Redding points out traces of history along the street in Marburg.

First, we visited a Holocaust memorial that was close to our language school. It’s something that we’ve walked past many times, but it’s easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for. It consists of golden stones with the names of Holocaust victims, but these stones are laid in the sidewalk like any other cobble stone. They’re placed in front of the houses where Jews once lived in Marburg. They’re known as “Stolpersteine,” stumbling blocks or stumbling stones, and they are supposed to be a reminder to the younger generations of the people who lived in Marburg and were murdered during the Holocaust. I found these stones intriguing as they contained not only the names of the victims, but also their year of birth and some stones listed the date they were murdered.

After observing these stones, we moved on to a much larger memorial across the street. It was in remembrance of a synagogue that was destroyed in 1938. The memorial sits on a street full of other buildings, and is almost like a scar in the tissue of the city. Where the synagogue once stood, there is now a large, open plot of land with beautiful grass and a bench for people to pause on and reflect. Next to the memorial is a small bronze statue of what the synagogue looked like before the malicious attacks. Our group talked about the moral ramifications of the Holocaust for quite some time while visiting this memorial.

Afterwards, we showed Maria around Marburg and took her to see the Elisabethkirche. Walking uphill has gotten much easier after 10 days, but there is still no way I could live here! She really enjoyed the city and we enjoyed catching up with her. We only have a few days left in Marburg, but we plan to make the most of them!