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Vandals deface new Milan ‘stumbling stone’ Holocaust memorial

Black paint poured on plaque for Dante Coen, who was deported to Auschwitz and then killed at Buchenwald in 1945

The exterior of Milan's Holocaust Memorial at the site of the notorious Platform 21, where Jews were deported to death camps during World War II, June 22, 2015. (Rossella Tercatin/The Times of Israel)
The exterior of Milan's Holocaust Memorial at the site of the notorious Platform 21, where Jews were deported to death camps during World War II, June 22, 2015. (Rossella Tercatin/The Times of Israel)

ROME – Vandals defaced one of the “stumbling stone” Holocaust memorials unveiled last week in Milan, covering it with black paint.

The vandalism was discovered Saturday by Ornella Coen, the daughter of Dante Coen, the person commemorated by the plaque, who was deported to Auschwitz and then killed at Buchenwald on April 4, 1945.

“Stumbling stones,” or “Stolpersteine,” are individual commemorative cobblestones placed in front of the houses of people who were deported during the Holocaust. Placing them is an ongoing memorial and art project by the German artist Gunter Deming, who installs each one — nearly 60,000 in various countries since the mid-1990s.

The defaced stone was one of the first six stumbling stones to be installed in Milan, during a ceremony on January 19. It is believed to have been defaced the next day.

A rose and a candle placed next to a 'Stolperstein,' or stumbling stone, during a walk on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht in Berlin, November 9, 2013. (AFP/Johannes Eisele)
A rose and a candle placed next to a ‘Stolperstein,’ or stumbling stone, during a walk on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht in Berlin, November 9, 2013. (AFP/Johannes Eisele)

“I was still so emotional because of the stone in memory of my father that when I came out in the street Saturday morning and saw it covered in black paint, I felt sick,” Ornella Coen told the newspaper La Repubblica.

The stones in Milan were placed as part of observances of International Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place on January 27.

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