Amsterdam couple drop opposition to Holocaust memorial stone outside home after sparking outrage

Harriet Agerholm
Stolpersteine commemorating the Frank family elsewhere in Amsterdam: Christian Michelides/Wikimedia Commons

A couple who launched a legal challenge to try and remove a Holocaust memorial plaque removed from the front of their house, have withdrawn the case.

The pair's request prompted uproar after they went to court to try and have a cobblestone taken out of the pavement near the front door of their home in Amsterdam.

They argued that it reminded them of murder and that it attracted visitors, compromising their right to privacy.

It is one of an estimated 50,000 brass-plated cobblestones, known as Stolpersteins, that have been placed around the Dutch capital to commemorate former Jewish residents who died in Nazi death camps.

Sebastiaan Capel, the director of Amsterdam’s southern district told Het Parool newspaper that it had already been moved to a location "as far away as possible from the door of the residents", but they sought to have it removed altogether.

In a statement reported by Dutch television station AT5, the couple said they has asked for the stone to be removed because their child had died and they found the stone was an "upsetting" reminder of the event.

"We are ending the court case because we are shocked by the way this has been publicised and the misunderstandings that have arisen as a result," they said.

"Since the death of our child, the Stolperstein pointing to our house has been too upsetting. We think it is very important to remember all victims of the Holocaust and will continue to do this respectfully. We do not wish to offend anyone and are very sorry that this has happened."

In a previous legal filing, the pair had said they wanted the cobblestone removed because it constantly reminded them of the deportation and murder of Joachim Elte, a 51-year-old accountant who died at a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.

They also argued it “compromises the atmosphere” of their upscale neighbourhood and violated their privacy because it attracted visitors.

The City of Amsterdam has received two complaints in the past over memorial cobblestones. One was made by a Holocaust survivor who said it reminded him of the traumatic event and the other by hotel owners who claimed their business suffered because of it.

Following the survivor’s request, the cobblestone was moved, but the second request was not successful, Paul de Haan, a public servant who issued memorial plaque permits, told Het Parool.

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