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Dutch city accused of plagiarizing Holocaust memorial cobblestones idea

German artist who set more than 50,000 plaques next to Jews’ former homes says decision by Apeldoorn municipality to do so independently is ‘not alright’

Artist Gunter Demnig lays four 'Stolpersteine,' or stumbling stones, a Holocaust commemoration, for Karolina Cohn and her family in Frankfurt, Germany, November 13, 2017. (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP)
Artist Gunter Demnig lays four 'Stolpersteine,' or stumbling stones, a Holocaust commemoration, for Karolina Cohn and her family in Frankfurt, Germany, November 13, 2017. (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP)

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — A German artist who installs memorial cobblestones across Europe for Holocaust victims has accused a Dutch city of plagiarism for undertaking a similar initiative.

Günter Demnig, who has set more than 50,000 brass cobblestones into sidewalks in front of buildings from which Jews were deported in 18 European countries, made the accusation in an interview published Saturday in De Stentor daily in the Netherlands.

He was reacting to the city council of Apeldoorn’s plans to install black marble cobblestones in front of the houses of its deported Jews.

“I find it not alright,” Demnig told the daily. “To me it’s plagiarism. I tried to prevent it but what can you do. I don’t want to waste time on it.”

Demnig charges nearly $300 for each brass cobblestone, which he installs personally. But the Apeldoorn Memorial Cobblestones Association, an organization recently established by volunteers, has chosen a cheaper alternative, made of marble.

Roland Oudejans-Albers, who heads the association, said Demnig himself suggested the association go ahead with a stone variant. He added that installing Demnig’s brass cobblestones would take too long at a time when Holocaust survivors are dying out.

The Dutch municipalities of Bellingwedde, Amersfoort, Vught and Veendam also have decided to install their own variant of Demnig’s patented brass cobblestones, De Stentor reported.

Illustrative image of a ‘Stolperstein,’ or stumbling stone, in Berlin, November 9, 2013. (AFP/Johannes Eisele)

Separately, the city of Antwerp in Belgium has lifted its objection to installing memorial cobblestones, the VRT broadcaster reported Tuesday.

The city objected to requests for installing them following the local Jewish community’s preference. Communal leaders said the memorial cobblestones would invite vandalism and be disrespectful to the people commemorated on them, as dogs and other animals may defecate on them.

Jewish groups in Antwerp and Brussels, Belgium’s federal capital, where cobblestones have been installed with the local Jewish community’s blessing, have clashed publicly on this issue. The Jewish community in Munich also opposes memorial cobblestones for similar reasons.

Last week, unidentified individuals painted several memorial cobblestones black in Moers, a city near Dusseldorf in western Germany, RP online reported. Several residential houses and a nearby kindergarten were sprayed with Nazi slogans and swastikas.

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