Category Archives: Europe

No Wall Shall Divide

In the 19th century, separation of Dutch society into groups by religion and associated political beliefs (known as pillars) meant that many people had little or no personal contact with people from another pillar. Within the graveyard of Roermond in the Netherlands is a dividing wall separating Protestant and Catholic burials.

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Married for 40 years Colonel J.W.C. van Gorkum was a Protestant, and noblewoman J.C.P.H. van Aefferden was a Roman Catholic. When the Colonel died in 1880 his wife knew that society would not allow her to be buried next to him. The solution was ingenious. Van Aefferden made arrangements for the Colonel to be buried near the wall, and she would be buried in the same location on the other side of the wall.

Two hands clasping across the divide symbolizes their love and union, and no doubt a visual rebuff against Dutch society at the time.

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COL Jacobus Warnerus Constantinus van Gorkum (10 Jan 1809–29 Aug 1880)

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Josephina Carlina Petronela Hubertina van Aefferden (28 Jun 1820–29 Nov 1888)

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Recto Verso

Marcel Broodthaers, a Belgian poet and artist, who died in 1976, designed his own gravestone located in Ixelles Cemetery, Brussels. Engraved on both sides the front of the stone reveals that he was born and died on the same day and month;  there is speculation that he committed suicide and may have therefore designed his death.

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Source: http://withreferencetodeath.philippocock.net/blog/broodthaers-marcel-tombstone-of-his-own-design-1976/

A phrase on the front of the stone, O Mélancolie Aigre Château Des Aigles, (Sour Melancholy Castle Of Eagles) is part of a line from one of Broodthaers’ poems. In 1968, he announced that he was no longer an artist and appointed himself director of his own museum, which he called the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles).

The back of the gravestone is a compendium of symbols, and is indicative of Broodthaers’ first solo exhibition in 1964 where he exhibited everyday objects, words, lettering and drawings.

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Source: http://withreferencetodeath.philippocock.net/blog/broodthaers-marcel-tombstone-of-his-own-design-1976/

This eclectic mix of symbols is accompanied by letters of the alphabet and the words, Moderato and Allegro which are both music tempos. The phrase Chez Le Droguiste Op Den Hoek appears to be Dutch and translates as, At The Druggist On The Corner.

In 1968 he used thin vacuum-formed plastic signs to create industrial poems with cryptic text and imagery. Academie I was one of those art forms relating geometric shapes to nature.

The clock at the top of the stone differs from similar symbols in that the Roman Numeral XII is outside the clock face. Both hands point to midnight yet one hand is also located outside the clock face.

A bottle, perhaps champagne, is marked with his birth year 1924.

One of his well-known works, Casserole and Closed Mussels, was created from accessible materials and everyday objects including eggshells and mussels. He published a poem on the subject of La Moule in which he described the mussel as a perfect creature which creates the shell which then contains itself.

A tobacco pipe emitting smoke is a reference to a painting, The Treachery of Images, by his friend and famous Surrealist Rene Magritte. It portrays an image of a pipe with the words, This is not a pipe.

The four geometric shapes reflect the 1966 Primary Structures exhibition in New York and Broodthaers’ later pronouncement that there are no primary structures.

And lastly, in the bottom right hand corner is the image of an open book. This reflects his first art object in which he embedded into plaster fifty unsold copies of his book of poems, Pense-Bête.

12th Century Church

This historic Church of Scotland is located on the High Street in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. It is believed that a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas has existed there since the early 12th Century.

High St East_St. Nicholas 1

In 1406, Sir James Douglas built and founded a Collegiate Church in the same location. The church and graveyard were located in the centre of town on the north side of the High Street ensuring that no individual living within the parish of Dalkeith was required to walk further than three miles to worship.

The ruined apse and chancel (areas containing the altar and the choir) contained two recumbent stone effigies marking the burial locations of Sir James Douglas, 1st Earl of Morton, and his wife Joanna, daughter of King James I.

Considered monuments of idolatry by the Reformation, the apse was abandoned and sealed from the rest of the church by a wall in 1592. Some parts of the building were allowed to fall into decay following the Reformation and eventually the roof collapsed. The old section of the church remains without a roof.

High St N_St Nicholas

In 1650 Oliver Cromwell and his troops crossed the border into Scotland with the intention of capturing the city of Edinburgh and set up headquarters in the parish church. Soldiers broke open the poor box, set fire to furniture and used the space to stable their horses. The sacristy (a room where vestments and other things of worship are kept) was used as a prison.

In the early 18th century, the sacristy which had continued to be used as a jail became a burial vault for the Buccleuch family (Scottish peerage and local landowners).

High St East_St. Nicholas_vault

The church was greatly altered in 1854, and the walls of the original church were embedded within the present building. A fire which destroyed the steeple in 1885 caused two 300 years old bells to crash to the ground.

The church was restored once more in the 1930s, and in 1979 the church was renamed St. Nicholas Buccleuch.

In 2005, the 21st Earl of Morton unveiled the newly-repaired Morton Monument. The 16th century figures had been carefully restored and looked magnificent. Morton said at the ceremony: “I think this has been a great achievement for all the people concerned in putting this together. It is a great achievement for the people of Dalkeith.”

The Alms Collection House, adjacent to the main gate, is thought to be the only building of its kind: built specifically for the purpose of collecting alms.

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The attached graveyard was blogged previously, see https://wordsonstone.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/st-nicholas-churchyard/

 

 

 

Death in the Camps

There are many memorials around the world commemorating those killed by Hitler and his Nazi party during the Holocaust (Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning sacrifice by fire.) Most of these memorials recognize mass graves or those killed en masse.

The following gravestones identify individual families who were killed at the whim of a madman during an era in human history which is shameful and abhorrent.

Mielec, Poland
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Memorial to the Stroch family.

Early on the morning of March 9, 1942, the transportation of Mielec’s Jews commenced. That morning, all the remaining Jews were marched at gun point out to the aircraft hangers at Cyranka. The elderly, sick and certain prominent people in the community, including the rabbi, were shot. For the next three days, while Mielec’s Jews were deported by train, those remaining at Cyranka were marched around the compound. Any that appeared weak, sick or injured were shot. Those killed during the transportation were buried in a mass grave near the aircraft factory. (from Mielec Through The Holocaust by Howard Recht).

Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France
Montparnasse
For My Dikerman family
Exterminated in Auschwitz-Birkenau
Moise aged 53, maria aged 52, Abel aged 30 and Regine aged 29
Note: Prisoners being held at Auschwitz were used to build the Birkenau camp crematoriums. In 1942, Auschwitz-Birkenau was a killing center.

Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania

traces of war
Source: https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/84108/Graves-Jewish-Victims-Holocaust.htm

Remembering the Kallos family
In Auschwitz 28 May 1944
He was martyred for being a Jew
Kallos Dezsone
Parent Szalpeter Roza 1884
Kallos Jolan 1909
Her husband Lebovits Bela
Kallos Jeno 1911
Kallos Helen 1913
They have memories to be remembered
Note: In November 1944 the gas chambers were being dismantled.

Germany and Europe
In 1993 German artist Gunter Demnig had a simple and effective idea to honour those who were persecuted and murdered during the Holocaust. After locating the former residence of a Nazi victim, and with permission of local authorities, he installed a small commemorative cobblestone topped with a brass plaque in front of the residence. The title of each plaque Hier wohnte (Here lived) records the individual’s name, date of birth and death, and fate. The premise is ‘One victim, one stone’. The project which began in Germany can now be found throughout Europe.
A few fateful words which are found on the brass plaques.

  • Verhaftet : arrested
  • Enthauptet : beheaded
  • Tot : dead
  • Ermordet : murdered
  • Uberlebt : survived.

haaertz
Here Lived
Fredy Hirsch
Circa 1919
Deported 6.9.1943
Auschwitz
Flight into death (this phrase is used in cases of suicide)
8.3.1944
Note: Auschwitz was located in South Western Poland

rockysmith
Source: https://rockysmith.net/2012/10/02/hier-wohnte-here-lived/

Here lived
Ida
Arsenberg
Maiden name Benjamin
Circa 1870
Deported 1942
Murdered
On the 18.9.1942 in
Theresienstadt
Note: Theresienstadt was a Czechoslovakian camp/ghetto.

Anyone who did not fit Hitler’s model of the perfect Aryan race was routinely arrested, tortured, and eradicated. Those at risk were:

  • the mentally ill and physically challenged who were viewed as useless to society were euthanized in gas chambers.
  • homosexuals were segregated to prevent the spread of homosexuality, and were identified in the camps by pink cloth triangles. Nazis interested in finding a ‘cure’ for homosexuality conducted medical experiments on those prisoners.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses whose beliefs did not allow the bearing of arms refused to swear allegiance to the Nazi state. Identified with a purple triangular patch they were considered enemies of the state.
  • Gypsies were considered racially inferior on a level with the Jews.
  • Jews were considered racially inferior and a threat to German community. The persecution began in 1938. They were identified within the camps by a yellow star on a white band worn on the right sleeve.
  • Children were routinely killed on arrival at the camps unless they were considered useful to the medical doctors. Twins were subjected to cruel medical experiments.

Grant them Peace o Lord. MAY WE NEVER FORGET.

Cramped Quarters

There are many cemeteries in which limited space has been well appropriated.

 

For 300 years during the 15th and 18th centuries there was only one burial ground in Prague, the Czech Republic, in which the Jewish faithful were permitted to bury their dead. The cemetery was small and vacant plots soon disappeared.

As Jewish law prohibits the destruction of graves or the removal of gravestones, soil was layered over existing plots causing the cemetery to rise above street level.

Jewish-Prague-Czech Republic2

The original gravestone was erected beside the new headstone which explains how and why the gravestones are packed so closely together.

Approximately 12,000 headstones sit atop twelve layers of graves beneath.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

How terrible it is to love something that death can touch.

In 19th century London an expansion of the railway system required the exhumation and removal of gravestones in St. Pancras Cemetery. Thomas Hardy was assigned the task of reburying them. Hundreds of gravestones were placed in a circular pattern around an ash tree now known as the Hardy Tree.hardy tree st pancras london

The Levelled Churchyard”, an early poem by Thomas Hardy
O passenger, pray list and catch
Our sighs and piteous groans,
Half stifled in this jumbled patch
Of wrenched memorial stones!
We late-lamented, resting here,
Are mixed to human jam,
And each to each exclaims in fear,
‘I know not which I am!’

Bisteghi Monument

Raffaele Bisteghi was an affluent author and playwright who lived in 19th century Italy. He left instructions in his will to purchase a tomb in his memory.

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The marble monument which was designed by Sculptor Enrico Barbieri took 6 years to complete, 1885-1891. The vignette features Raffaele Bisteghi on his deathbed, with an angel at his bedside, and his wife her hands joined in prayer.

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The Bisteghi Monument is located in the Gallery of Angels at the Monumental Certosa di Bologna, Italy. The Certosa is a former monastery which was founded in 1334 and suppressed in 1797. In 1801 it became the city’s Monumental Cemetery.

 

Vampires

A burial ground in London going back to Roman times grew to become the sprawling, Gothic, Highgate Cemetery. In the late 1960s, Satanic rituals and sightings of ghosts were reported. It was suggested that a vampire was buried there, and the Satanic rituals had revived it.

In the 1970s this myth was reinforced with reports of dead foxes found within the cemetery that had no obvious sign of death. A ghostly figure and sightings of a man with waxen features occurred near the Egyptian Avenue entrance at dusk.

Entrance To High Gate Cemetery 

A major clue to debunking the legend was provided by Spanish neurologist, Juan Gomez-Alonso, when he stated that the symptoms of vampirism bore a striking resemblance to rabies. Many of the famous vampire panics of the 17th-century coincided with rabies outbreaks. Sufferers are hypersensitive to light, water and strong odours such as garlic. The disease attacks the central nervous system often leading to the victim becoming demented, nocturnal, and even hypersexual –  all qualities which are associated with vampires.

The myth of the vampire began in 15th century Eastern Europe with Vlad Tepes, prince of a province in Romania. He was an unforgiving bloodthirsty ruler who routinely tortured people in the name of Christianity. His favourite method of punishment was impaling his enemies on giant wooden spears initiating the rumour that he drank their blood.

It is believed that after capture during a battle that he was ransomed to his daughter who lived in Italy. A tomb within a Naples church is engraved with symbols of a dragon, flanked by sphinxes which represent the city of Tepes. It is alleged to be Dracula’s tomb. (Vlad was the son of Dracul, meaning dragon or devil, and the name Dracula means the son of Dracul.)