Thursday, May 16, 2024

Stolpersteine in Stuttgart

Ein Stein. Ein Name. Ein Mensch.

A few days ago I read in our local paper that the artist Gunter Demnig himself would be in Stuttgart today to lay eleven Stolpersteine in several different locations. At one of those locations, Uhlandstraße 14A, he would be laying six Stolpersteine, two of which were sponsored by students at the Stuttgart High School, an American school on Patch Barracks.

Since hearing about Demnig’s art initiative quite a few years ago, I have looked for the Stolpersteine and told guests and student groups about them. Biographical information is available online about most of the people commemorated by the Stolpersteine, as is fitting to Demnig’s goal that the victims of the Nazi regime not be forgotten. “One stone. One name. One person.”

I arrived early, as I am wont to do, and just as the organizer (Frau Bouché from the Initiative Stolpersteine Stuttgart) started to ask if I was part of the group expected, the American students arrived. I snapped some photos from the background and let their chaperone know who I was, that I was there privately and wouldn’t post photos of the students anywhere. However I gave her my card and said if she emails me, I can send her any photos I take.

Frau Bouché spoke to the students a bit and told them Demnig would probably dash off quickly after laying the stones because he had more to do after these. I told the chaperone I am not shy about asking for certain photos in situations like this, and if I saw an opportunity I would ask Demnig to pose for a photo with the students.

I knew Demnig as soon as he arrived, as he is quite recognizable. He briefly greeted a few people and got to work. 

Gunter Demnig

The Stolpersteine Demnig laid at this spot were for Isak and Johanna Falk, their nearly-adult children Fritz and Carry, and Meier Rosenstein and his daughter Frieda Süß-Schülein.

After he finished he packed up his tools and buckets and I sidled up to him and asked if he’d pose with the American students because they were the sponsors of the two Stolpersteine for the Falk children. He graciously agreed and I got several nice photos. I can’t post them because of obvious reasons and because I told the chaperone I would not.

After Demnig drove off, the ceremony began in which Frau Bouché told us in English about the six individuals and their story. One of the students spoke very good German, welcoming those gathered and introducing her group, and another student read a poem she’d written for the occasion. 

The last thing Frau Bouché told us was that in 1943 her parents and older sister had moved into this very apartment where the Falk family had lived before being forced to leave this home in 1939 to take up positions in a Jewish nursing home near Heilbronn. She said her mother knew a Jewish family had lived there and it saddened her, but they did not ask what had happened to them. It clearly meant something special to Frau Bouché that she has been able to honor the Falk family in this way.

For more information about Gunther Demnig's Stolperstein initiative, click on the links above or here. To learn the stories of the people named on Stolpersteine in your area or ones you come across on your travels, google the person's name along with the word "Stolperstein." It may also help to add the name of the town in which the Stolperstein is found.

Stolpersteine continue to be laid in communities across 21 countries in Europe. It costs €132 to sponsor a stone, which is usually placed in front of the individual's last known residence. 

The 100,000th Stolperstein was laid in 2023.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Kaya is TWO!!

 Happy Hatchday, Kaya! Alles Gute zum Schlüpftag!

our current favorite photo of Kaya
Today for Kaya is like any other cold, crappy April day. She doesn’t know it’s her hatchday, but we do!

What present would I like to give her? A knitted sweater vest to keep her warm in her mews during this cold snap! If I’m cold, she’s cold. Isn’t that how it works?

AI image created by

What she’s actually getting is a nice big quail (Wachtel) for her hatchday lunch.

We’ve had a fun and exciting second year with her even though I posted precious little about it. We ended her season of 63 hawking days with 52 crows (Krähen), 3 magpies (Elstern), 2 pigeons (Tauben), 1 duck (Stockente) and, quite impressively, two Egyptian geese (Nilgänse)!

Our successes together are no doubt notable for a young bird, but if I average her hawking days with 5 flights each, that’s about 315 flights and a total of 60 kills. I only mention that to illustrate that her quarry still has the better odds.

in a tree in our training ground between flights

She should be molting now, but several things have stood in the way of a good start. Right before the long Easter weekend, I noticed some wounds on the bottoms of several of her toes, which we had looked at by a veterinarian who specializes in birds and reptiles in Karlsruhe. The first available appointment was 12 days later, and as of then we started 3 different medications. Medications are not good for the molt, so we didn’t expect anything during the 6 days she was on them. The wounds are nearly healed and she's off the meds, but now it’s too cold! This cold spell is supposed to last another week, so here’s hoping for a good Mauser re-start next weekend!

Kaya brightens our every day and she is so much fun during the non-hunting season!

This is her cute & curious pose.
She seems to appreciate her evening playtime, when M goes out to toss pine cones for her to catch. When it’s dry enough, she gets the zoomies as she dashes about her mews throwing and chasing the pine cones. Occasionally she’ll do this alone, but she much prefers a playmate or at least at audience.

holding her emotional support pine cone
while staring sceptically at her new carpet

One of her mew perches had lost all its bark, so M replaced it with a nice new branch ten days ago, which she has found greatly upsetting. It’s a lovely perch with a slight bend in it, so if she ever tries it out she’ll see she can sit even higher than before while she watches the neighbors come and go. Since she likes change about as much as we do, she still won't go near it. 

biiiiiiiggggg stretch!
She's such a sweet bird and we love spending time with her whether we're at an exhibition (Jagdmesse), out for a walk, hawking, or just sitting on the patio. She's got a charming personality, which she shows off when she's feeling safe and comfortable. She also tries to be really scary and hawky when something isn't fittin'. We continue to feel incredibly privileged that this wild animal* has accepted us and trusts us - even at her first visit to the veterinarian - and doesn't hold a grudge against us when we try new things like hooding her in preparation for the vet visit or failing to hide her medicine inside her delicious food. That was the first time we ever saw her pick up a piece of food, think twice, and spit it right back out!

*She came from a breeder and has never been in the wild, but a raptor is never tame or domesticated. She will always remain a wild animal, and we, her falconers, must never forget that.

The Verband Deutscher Falkner stand
at the Forst Live Messe (trade show) in Offenburg

We're looking forward to another year with our girl and all the adventures it brings!

Until next time...