First ‘stumbling stone’ memorial in UK installed where art conservationist
An art conservationist has become the first person to be commemorated with a “stumbling stone” in the UK.
Ada Van Dantzig had the stolperstein installed in a pavement in Golden Square in her memory, to mark where she worked helping to restore paintings for the National Gallery.
She left the safety of London to help her parents escape to Switzerland but was captured in France by the Nazis and murdered in Auschwitz in 1943, aged 24.
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The stone was supposed to be laid in 2020 after exceeding its crowdfunding target but was delayed by lockdown.
The campaign to raise money for it was led by historian Morwenna Blewett, from Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. She said: “Because we were not occupied, the removal of people from their houses or their places of work didn’t generally happen in the UK. But the stolperstein concept is based on people having to leave their last address of choice, whether it be work or housing, directly induced by Nazism.”
Ms Van Danzig had worked with Helmut Ruhemann, a consultant restorer at the National Gallery, at his studio in Golden Square in the 1930s before the Second World War, as one of three apprentices. Another was famed mid-century artist Nigel Henderson.
After war broke out, she travelled to France, despite pleas it was not safe, to locate her family, who were trying to escape from the Netherlands to Switzerland. In 1943, she was arrested and transported to Auschwitz where, on February 11, she was murdered.
Ms Blewett had feared she might not be able to raise the cash when Westminster Council said they would not waive their £1,100 fee. But she was bowled over by the response.
Around 80,000 stolpersteins have been installed in pavements across Europe since the scheme started in 1992, with each tiny plaque marking the last known address of a Holocaust victim.
They originated in Cologne as the brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig, and mark the homes and workplaces of those killed by the Nazis with small plaques in the ground bearing their names.
Two other commemorative plaques for Jewish figures have also been installed recently. One is for playwright Arnold Wesker on the site of his old primary school at Northwold Road, Hackney. The other is in Malvern, Worcestershire, to celebrate Frieda Salvendy, an Austrian Expressionist artist who escaped to England before World War II.