Lost and found

WHEN I WAS IN THE ARCHIVE IN TARBES, looking at all the documents that listed Uszer Kahan's address, I realized something: I had all the elements to request a Stolperstein for him. I knew his name, date of birth, date of his arrest, and his last address. This last was most remarkable, I thought: the Stolpersteine organization requires that one have the last address of choice; it cannot be a concentration camp, labor camp or ghetto. Thus I could not request a Stolperstein for Uszer's brother as I only knew the addresses of the internment camp and the forced labor camp where he spent his last days before deportation to Auschwitz.

 

Somehow, at the same time as his brother was incarcerated, Uszer was a relatively free man, working in Tarbes and living at an address of his choice, 70 rue des Pyrénées, until his arrest in February of 1943.

THE OTHER ESSENTIAL ELEMENT FOR A STOLPERSTEIN was this: the permission of the mayor. So as soon as I got home from my visit to Tarbes and the Stolperstein ceremony for my great-aunt Frieda in Mannheim, I wrote to the mayor with my request.

 

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letter to the mayor of Tarbes

SOON AFTER I returned from my trip to France and Germany in November of 2015, I wrote the mayor of Tarbes to request permission for a Stolperstein for Uszer Kahan. And I wrote again.

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Letter from Tarbes mayor Dec. 2016.jpg
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MORE THAN A YEAR later, I received a response. The mayor never directly addressed my request for a Stolperstein, but instead suggested a plaque in the museum -- after it was modernized.

I RECALLED STEFFEN PROSS'S COMMENT after I'd sent him the files from Belgium on Adolf Herrmann. "This is one of these days of schizophrenia," he'd written, "--really satisfying for the researcher and deeply depressing for the human being."