Inauguration of four Stations of Remembrance in Wieden on March 25, 2012
On a bright sunny sunday, relatives and a large number of other interested persons gathered at Seisgasse 18. Here, the first Station was inaugurated for the Römer family, honouring their members Gustav and Paula Römer, murdered in the Shoa. The ceremony was opened by the Vienna Jewish Choir singing the song „Unser Shtetl brent“.
Next, Elisabeth Ben David-Hindler welcomed all family members, and Ilse Aschner, daughter of Paula and Gustav Römer, in particular. A further welcome went to district councillor Ludwig Dvorak, attending the event as the fourth district’s representative. The speeches were mainly delivered in English.
In his introductory speech, Ludwig Dvorak emphasized the importance of the commemoration work carried out by the Association Stones of Remembrance. “Dwellings do have stories to tell”, he said, and that it was thanks to the Association that these stories could be told and heard. He then reported on current propositions in the district to name streets after Jewish persons. Given the importance of keeping memory alive, he considers it a duty to look even more closely into the history of the Holocaust on the local level.
Vera Schwarz, great-granddaughter to Gustav and Paula Römer, spoke about the fate of her great-grandparents.
It had been by chance that she herself had moved into the dwelling of her relatives. It is of great importance to her that Gustav and Paula Römer are now again visible and present at the place where they lived.
The second Station, located in Graf-Starhemberggasse, is devoted to the Löwy family. Peter Layton, a family member, voiced his gratitude to the Association and spoke of the great importance of the Stone to his family. It had been only during research for the Stone that the story of their relatives was revealed. The family also had a tombstone of their ancestors restored. To conclude the ceremony at this Station, the Jewish choir sang the peace prayer Oseh Shalom.
Next, the second Station in Graf-Starhemberggasse 27 was inaugurated. Vivienne Davis (granddaughter) spoke about Oskar and Olga Löwy and about the research done by Ariel Levy (grandson). The latter proceeded to recite the Kaddish for their murdered family members and lit a candle. Peter and George Layton, the other two grandchildren, and their wives had also come from London.
At the third Station, located in Prinz-Eugenstraße 18, great-grandson Claudius Stein spoke about Maria von Newlinski.
He said that he now felt closely connected with the other families. The life circumstances of his great-grandparents remain rather blurry. Maria von Newlinski (née Beinhacker) married Philipp Michael von Newlinski, who was a confidant of Theodor Herzl. In the course of research, the name of the great-grandmother was found in the Register of Deaths of Theresienstadt. Thanks to the research, he had come to a better understanding of the last years of life. He believes that the Stone is also very much what his father would have wished.
Elisabeth Ben David-Hindler added some more information supplied by the property management: the dwelling had been owned by Graf Schwarzenberg, a committed supporter of Jewish fellow citizens, who had opened his nearby garden for Jews at a time when access to parks had been generally prohibited to them. The present owner of the dwelling, Mrs. Batthyány, granddaughter to the Count, further commented on this statement. On the spur of the moment, the Choir performed Oseh Shalom once again, and many other participants of the event joined in.
At the last Station to be inaugurated, in Prinz-Eugenstraße 16, Elisabeth Ben David-Hindler gave a short speech, as the family members, living in Israel and in Chile, had not been able to come to Vienna. The Station is devoted to Alexander and Lona Sohr, a married couple. Alexander Sohr used to be official imperial and royal (k&k) dressmaker and supplier to the Court. He and his brother Edmund operated a business in Schaufflergasse 2. This shop was then aryanized. Alexander and Lona Sohr, his brother Edmund and his wife Irma were deported and murdered.