Volunteers are aiming to clean all 458 Stolpersteine (or “Stumbling Stones”) in Brussels ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, which starts on Wednesday evening.
The student-led organisation ‘Make Their Memory Shine’ has organised teams of volunteers from all walks to life to join them in cleaning the stones laid across the Belgian capital.
A Stolpersteine is a ten-centimetre concrete cube laid in the ground with a brass plate inscribed with the name and dates of life of a victim of Nazi genocide, and approximately 90,000 have been laid across Europe since 1992 outside the last chosen place of residence or work of a victim of the Holocaust.
Volunteers across the city spent the day making the stones shine (European Jewish Press)
The ‘Make Their Memory Shine’ campaign aims to create grassroots, cross-cultural interaction to increase education, conversations, and awareness of the Holocaust.
A 2018 survey from CNN and ComRes revealed that 34 per cent of Europeans surveyed knew just a little or had never heard of the Holocaust.
Writing on their Instagram page, the group appealed for: “kind-hearted humans who wish to volunteer to clean at any moment of the day!”
They said: “On April 27th (Holocaust Comemoration Day/ Yom Hashoah), we aim to commemorate, educate and volunteer in a unique pro-active manner that involves all citizens of Brussels!
“Whether you clean one stone in 5 min, or, you clean a dozen in an hour, all help is appreciated and you make an incredible impact!”
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close speaking at The Jewish Museum of Belgium (European Jewish Press)
The student-led effort is being supported by the European Jewish Association who provided basic cleaning kits for the operation, as well as StandWithUs, the European Jewish Community Centre, and others.
The Jewish Museum of Belgium held an event marking the effort featuring Brussels Mayor Philippe Close, ‘Roma Dignity’ President Costel Nastasie and Holocaust survivor and President of the Forum of Jewish Organizations in Antwerp, Régine Suchowolski-Sluszny.