Stolperstein Verlegung in Koblenz: May 8, 2018

My heart-felt thanks to all of you who have come to witness the laying of Stolpersteine for my three aunts. 

Perhaps the year was 1937. I would have been five years old when I walked through the front door of the grand house that stood here at Markenbildchenweg 30. I had come to visit my aunts. 

My mother was the eldest of four sisters, daughters of the Schneider family, Weinhändler, originally from Heddisheim, now Guldenthal, near Bad Kreuznach. 

By 1937 my mother had settled in the Eifel region, but her sisters made their home here on this street in Koblenz. 

I only have faint memories of my three aunts, their appearance or personalities. Aunt Johanna was a business woman, strong and efficient. Aunt Dorothea, or Dora, cared for the house. I see her wearing an apron— kindly, quiet and timid. The youngest aunt, Elisabeth, I remember having curly black hair and laughing eyes. I have no photographs. They were single, all three, and I was the only child in the family—loved intensely. 

For many years, it was too painful for me to even ask the question, “What happened to my aunts, Johanna, Dora and Elisabeth?” 

It was only after I experienced the healing of my wounded history that I received the courage to search out their story. The facts are few. On May 22, 1942, they left Koblenz from the Güterbahnhof Lützei on the first transport carrying around 300 Koblenz Jews to the east. 

The three of them were among the 11-15,000 Jews who were ultimately brought to Izbica, a small shetl in Poland.

My aunts died in the summer of 1942. Did they die by gassing in the nearby camps, Belzec or Sobibor? Or from typhoid, shooting or starvation in Izbica? 

About a year ago, George and I were in Koblenz. We walked with a large group of local citizens, following the route these first deportees took, under guard, on their way to the Güterbahnhof Lutzei.

In the evening darkness we stood together at the station, holding lighted candles and yellow stars. We listened as all the names, ages and addresses were read by students. 

And now, today, we are together here, honoring Johanna, Dora and Elisabeth, remembering them with Stolpersteine. 

I am deeply thankful to Gunter Demnig, who has already laid so many Stolpersteine throughout Europe. And from Koblenz, especially Wolfgang Hüllstrung and his team, and all of you gathered here as witnesses. Some of you have travelled hundreds of kilometers to be here. 

I would like to close with the Aaronic blessing. The role God intended for Jews was to bless all peoples. I pray this prayer today, asking God’s blessing on all of us gathered here, and on the city of Koblenz:

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
And give you peace. 

The Sisters Were There to Pray

Do you tire of FB, twitter, IG?
Question the reality of it all?
And then, suddenly
Your jaw drops as
You look at your feed & see
A group of nuns, clustered by a
Memorial wall in a Polish forest
Next to the remains of an incinerator
Where the ashes of
Amalie & Markus Zack
Mingled with those of all
The other Jews In May 1942.
The sisters were there to pray.
Amalie and Markus were my parents.

Photo: Ursuline sisters of Klasztor-Sieradz, Poland

Chapter 21: The Ministry of Reconciliation

Maturing toward Wholeness in the Inner life Chapter 2 Discipleship George Miley

Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life
The Ministry of Reconciliation:
Bringing Healing and Beauty to Wounded Relationships

God reconciles people who have been separated relationally. This is just the kind of person God is. As we mature toward Christlikeness, we also become agents of reconciliation. This is just the kind of persons we are becoming. But what does the process of reconciliation look like? Are there specific steps?

(George Miley) Recorded 8/18/2017

What Is the Wittenberg 2017 Initiative?


A Catholic lay leader with a Ph.D. in history gave a lecture on the medieval papacy. With a historian’s precision, she characterized the sins against which Martin Luther protested – lust for power, sexual immorality, greed. After finishing, she returned to her seat, dropped to her knees, and wept over the sins of the church she loves.

It was the first meeting of the Wittenberg 2017 Initiative – a growing fellowship of Catholics, Lutherans, Messianic Jews, and those of other Christian traditions who are responding to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with prayer, confession, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

During our next meeting, Lutheran leaders spoke with clarity and sorrow of the antisemitism of Luther and the collusion of their church with Hitler and the Nazis. Luther called for Jews to be driven from Germany and their synagogues burned. Nazis quoted him! Lutherans asked God, and us, for forgiveness. We extended it. We all ended up on our knees before an ancient crucifix. Who among us can claim a church tradition without a history of sin and darkness?

A Catholic priest and theologian spoke of the martyrdom of Jan Hus in 1415. This demonstrated the Catholic Church had lacked resources to reform itself. He called the Protestant Reformation a gift of God’s grace to the Body of Christ. He led us in celebrating the treasures of the Reformation, if not its divisiveness.

Messianic Jews are among us. After centuries, the Jerusalem church is again in our midst. We honor the tradition of Jesus and the apostles. They are spiritual fathers and mothers to Catholics, who are spiritual fathers and mothers to mainline Protestants, who are spiritual fathers and mothers to nondenominational congregations.

How are we to respond to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation?

1 – We honor our own tradition, while speaking truthfully about its historic wrongs.

2 – As representatives of our tradition, we repent and ask for forgiveness.

3 – We honor and extend forgiveness to those of other traditions. We don’t judge.

4 – We honor our spiritual fathers and mothers, and also our sons and daughters.

5 – We join Jesus in his John 17 prayer: Father, I ask that they may all be one.