Whom do the STOLPERSTEINE commemorate?
The small memorial plaques will keep alive the memory of former Foreign Office staff members who were either laid off, persecuted or murdered by the National Socialist regime after it came to power in 1933. Suffering was inflicted on them “on account of their faith, origin, parentage, political beliefs, sexual orientation or worldview” – as the inscription on the STOLPERSCHWELLE states. This group of individuals is not exhaustive and stands symbolically for the much larger group of Foreign Office staff members who were persecuted by the Nazis. Their names are:
Albrecht Graf von Bernstorff, Georg von Broich-Oppert, Dr Eduard Brücklmeier, Ernst Busch, Dr Dirk Forster, Dr Adolf Freudenberg, Dr Martin Freudenthal, Dr Walter Fuchs, Erich Gerth, Herbert Gollnow, Dr Wilhelm Haas, Hans Bernd von Haeften, Dr Bruno Hahn, Ulrich von Hassell, Carl Helfrich, Fritz Henkel, Dr Richard Hertz, Siegfried Hey, Dr Donald Freiherr von Hirsch, Dr Carl von Holten, Rudolf Holzhausen, Max Immelen, Henry P. Jordan, Dr Heinrich Ritter V. Kaufmann-Asser, Dr Otto Kiep, Dr Gerhard Köpke, Dr Richard Kuenzer, Dr Friedrich Leyden, Dr Ludwig Lindner, Dr Hans Litter, Dr Alfred Lütgens, Dr Gerhart Lütkens, Dr Vollrath V. Maltzan Freiherr zu Wartenberg und Penzlin, Dr Ernst Wilhelm Meyer, Richard Meyer von Achenbach, Dr Hermann Meyer-Rodehüser, Dr Erich Michelsen, Dr Bernd Mumm von Schwarzenstein, Dr Herbert Mumm von Schwarzenstein, Dr Hans Riesser, Dr Georg Rosen, Dr Ludwig Anton Graf V. Saurma-Jeltsch, Rudolf von Scheliha, Moritz Schlesinger, Dr Hans Schmerschneider, Ernst Schmidt, Friedrich Werner Graf von der Schulenburg, Dr Paul Schwarz, Dr Werner Schwarz, Dr Johannes Sievers, Ilse Stöbe, Dr Adam von Trott zu Solz, Dr Robert Ulrich, Jona von Ustinow, Fritz Weiss / Fritz Wyss and Heinrich Wolff
Ilse Stöbe is the only woman in this group. She was a member of the communist resistance. She fought against the National Socialist regime and was executed at Plötzensee in December of 1942.
State Secretary Berger states:
When we bow down to read what has been inscribed on these plaques, it is as if we are bowing down in honour of the people they represent. We thereby show them the respect they were robbed of in life. The STOLPERSTEINE serve multiple purposes: they honour, pay tribute and serve as a reminder. They honour every single individual’s memory; at the same time, his or her fate does not remain private. It becomes a part of our everyday life, part of our collective memory and of our culture of remembrance. It helps remind us that we must remain vigilant regarding certain developments – for example, the rise of antisemitism and racism.
How did this project come about?
In 2020, as the Federal Foreign Office marked its 150th anniversary in a year that was also the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, a volunteer group of employees at the Federal Foreign Office set about to commemorate those fellow Foreign Office staff members who had been persecuted by the Nazis. Beginning with the life story of the diplomat Friedrich Leyden, who died at the Theresienstadt National Socialist concentration camp in January 1944, they delved into the holdings of the Federal Foreign Office Political Archive to find more former colleagues who had been persecuted by the National Socialists. They also undertook every effort to contact the individuals’ descendants. They were able to identify a total of 56 former staff members who had been persecuted, thereby uncovering their life stories.
Where are we now?
Today, the Federal Foreign Office actively promotes diversity. Two grass-roots groups of employees in particular are helping to shine a spotlight on the Federal Foreign Office as a modern and open-minded public authority which is continuously developing: “Diplomats of Colour”, which helped organise the laying of the STOLPERSTEINE, and “Rainbow”, which brings together LGBTQIA employees of the Federal Foreign Office.
State Secretary Berger:
The STOLPERSTEINE are meant to remind us how precious our freedom is, and how valuable it is that we can be together in our diversity. And that, following the example of the former staff members we are commemorating today, we should work every single day to preserve this precious good.