Kingston synagogue's memorial in Ostrava

By Jay Grenby, June 24, 2010
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Kingston United Synagogue's Ostrava Group has been instrumental in the establishment of a memorial to Holocaust victims from the Czech town.

Cobblestone-sized shiny brass plates, recording the name, date of birth, deportation destination and date of death have been installed on the pavements outside their former homes.

The Kingston group was established five years ago to find out more about the history of Ostrava and its Jews after its Sefer Torah was permanently loaned to the synagogue by the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust. The group's research has discovered a 100-strong worldwide network of former Ostrava residents.

One of them contacted chairman David Lawson after hearing about the Stolpersteine (literally stumbling blocks) initiative launched by German sculptor Gunter Demnig to commemorate Holocaust victims throughout Europe.

‘It took an awful lot of detective work to check the names, dates and locations’

With the help of Weybridge-based Heinz Vogel, whose family were from Ostrava, Mr Lawson began co-ordinating the stones project more than a year ago, wading through the red tape and securing the co-operation of the requisite Ostrava municipal and other authorities.

"It took an awful lot of detective work to check the names, dates and identify the actual locations for the plaques, particularly as street names and indeed positions have changed over the past 70 years.

"Fortunately, we had the assistance of good friends who still live in Ostrava and who did an immense amount of research on our behalf."

Members of the group planning to visit the town later in the summer intend to view the Stolpersteine as part of their itinerary.

Last updated: 12:49pm, June 24 2010