On a busy street in Berlin’s shabby-chic district of Kreuzberg, the gray and dirty pavement glistens with little brass cobblestones. Millions of these stones are embedded in sidewalks all over Europe. They commemorate the last address the city’s Jewish residents called home before the war.
Etched into each stone is the name of an individual, a date of deportation, the name of a concentration camp and, more often than not, a date of death.
But some stones are inscribed with the word ueberlebt, meaning “survived.” The name on one such stone is Margot Bendheim, the maiden name of Margot Friedlander. For the past three years, this stone is no longer a valid record of her most recent Berlin address — which lies across town.
“As a survivor, I feel that I do something for the people who cannot speak for themselves anymore,” says Friedlander, who just turned 92.
After 64 years of exile in New York, Friedlander made the decision to return to her native Berlin for good. City officials welcomed her with open arms, and Friedlander was promptly given back her German citizenship.
“When I received my German citizenship, I said: ‘You expect me to say thank you for it? I will not do it. Because you only give me back what you took away from me,'” she says.
Read more at NPR: National Public Radio