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Remembrance

The Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project

Connections and Discoveries

A Source of Living Memory: Names Database Inspires Global Commemoration

Arie DeLevie (front right) and Sabrina Fichter (front, second from right) are joined by local residents at a memorial ceremony for the Jews of Meissen murdered during the ShoahArie DeLevie (front right) and Sabrina Fichter (front, second from right) are joined by local residents at a memorial ceremony for the Jews of Meissen murdered during the Shoah. December 2013
The "stumbling stones" commemorating Bernhardt and Freida DeLevie outside their former home in Meissen, Germany The "stumbling stones" commemorating Bernhardt and Freida DeLevie outside their former home in Meissen, Germany. December 2013

When Ari DeLevie submitted Pages of Testimony in 2002 for his aunt and uncle, Bernhardt and Freidl DeLevie, he did so in order to ensure that their names would be recorded for posterity. Unbeknownst to him, a decade later those very Pages would capture the curiosity of German high school student Sabrina Fichter, and launch her on a passionate mission to commemorate the Jewish victims of the small town of Meissen where both she and DeLevie’s family had lived. Ultimately the trail she followed using the "clues" at her disposal on the Pages of Testimony led Fichter to contact DeLevie, who traveled to Meissen to play a personal part in commemorating his family.

Fichter’s journey began after her mother, a social studies teacher, participated in a seminar in 2009 at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies. On her return to Germany, she shared what she had learned with her daughter. From all Fichter heard, it was the personal commemoration on the Pages of Testimony that inspired her to research the fates of the 80 Jews of Meissen who were murdered during the Shoah. Her diligent research efforts culminated in a town-wide ceremony in honor of the victims in December 2013, which DeLevie attended. The moving event included the installation of stolpersteine (stumbling stones) – concrete blocks covered with a brass plate on which the name, date of birth, and the date and location of death are engraved – at the site of the DeLevie family’s former residence.

"It was the culmination of a process that began 11 years earlier by filing out two Pages of Testimony at Yad Vashem," recalled an emotional DeLevie. "Almost 75 years since these people were robbed of their lives under unimaginable conditions of fear, hope, fleeing and finally being deported and murdered, this was a moment I could never have imagined: commemorating their lives with memorial plates in front of the very home from which they began their desperate and fateful attempts to survive. I was there, to say their names and pray for their souls, hoping they would, at last, truly rest in peace."

“Without the Pages of Testimony I would not have known that the DeLevie family existed in Meissen, because there are no documents attesting to their existence in the town archive," Fichter explained. "I would also never have gotten in contact with Ari. This story is just an example; these Pages are my first step in ensuring that this tragic event is never forgotten."

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