The British son of a refugee from the Nazis has revealed how he was deeply moved after locals at the German town from which his mother fled campaigned vociferously to organise a special memorial to honour her and her family.
Dr Peter Altman, an 80-year-old retired biochemist from St Albans, arranged for six brass stolpersteine (stumbling stone) plaques to be embedded in the pavement outside his mother’s former house in the German town of Stommeln – the first to be set there.
The placing of the stones in the pavement outside No 11 Nettegasse was approved by officials in the town, near Cologne, after a vocal campaign by teachers and students at a local college.
Mr Altman and his family were unable to make it to Germany on the day of the official ceremony – 16 March this year – but when they travelled to the town nine days later, local officials and musicians re-enacted the event for them.
He said: “We were deeply touched by this gesture.
“It has made us so happy that the commissioning of the stolpersteine, which are the work of the sculptor Gunter Demnig, eventually gained approval and went ahead.”
Mr Altman’s mother, Hilde Stock, fled Germany in 1939 and made it to the UK, where she died in 1989.
He said: “It means so much to us to see my mother and her family honoured in this way. These stones are the first to be placed in the town.
“We are very grateful to have been part of this celebration. It was an emotional moment when we first saw them.
“I’ve seen the stones in front of the house where my father Ernst had lived in Bautzen, near Dresden, and I had always thought, ‘Why aren’t there any in front of the house in Stommeln where my mother lived?’ Now there are.”