Mr. Tagliacozzo and Mr. Marcuse,
Throughout my time in Europe, I have been blessed to discover many of the sloping stones that recognize the victims of the Holocaust. Your names are some of the most important memories of this horrific time in history that we have left. I want you to know that I will not forget them.
To Mr. Marcuse:
You were one of the first victims of the Holocaust who’s name I knew. We found your home, and with it your sloping stone, on our nightly walk through Berlin. I stood outside the place where you – and your family – lived and couldn’t help but wonder what you were like. What kind of job did you have? How long did you live in that house? Were you happy? I can’t begin to imagine your experiences throughout the Second World War. The part of your story I am sure of, however, is what we are told on your stone. You were stripped from your home and forced into a living hell; I cannot fathom the horrors you have faced. Seeing your stone is humbling as it allows me to recognize the ties we try to have with our history and how we process those ties. Thank you for allowing me to see this.
Unfortunately, Mr. Marcuse was not able to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. He was killed in Dachau concentration camp on February 21, 1945. He was 40 years old.
To Mr. Tagliacozzo :
Your name strikes me because it is on one of the few stones that I have seen throughout Italy. Your story is so similar and yet so different to that of Mr. Marcuse. Seeing your name on the streets of Rome this morning made me recall the older gentleman, as your forced journey to Auschwitz and later Dachau matches with that of Mr. Marcuse. It is remarkable to me that I was able to encounter both of your stones. I am curious about how your mind worked Mr. Tagliacozzo. What were your hopes and dreams? I cant help but again wonder if you were happy. We will never know these things and for that reason my heart breaks for the both of you and for every victim of the pure evil that existed in this world.
Finding your stone, in particular, overwhelmed me with the true extent of the evils of the Holocaust. Knowing your name, in combination with Mr. Marcuse, allows me an avenue to better understand this history. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Mr. Taglicozzo also unfortunately fell victim to the cruelty of the Holocaust. He was killed in Dachau concentration camp on February 20, 1945. He was 29 years old.
These two individuals touch me in a way I never expected. They highlight the true irrationality that sometimes pervades our lives. Both of these men, from different countries, cultures and backgrounds were forced to both Auschwitz and Dachau at almost the exact same times. They were killed a mere 24 hours after one another, in the same room where I stood and cried just a few weeks ago.
Visiting Dachau was one of the most emotional experiences I have had in my life. I walked around through the same rooms in the crematorium where thousands of innocent individuals were killed; you could feel the intense sorrow that this place held. I felt as if I was holding my breath the entire time, unable to exhale in a space so overwhelming impactful. The epitome of emotion during my visit to Dachau came the moment I stepped into the gas chamber. The inhumanity of this space stopped me in my tracks; I sobbed for a long time in a room that made me feel sick to my stomach. I couldn’t force myself to leave however, as that was a luxury that so many people never had. I tried to fathom how such cruelty could exist in the world that I call my home. How can you condemn innocent people to death? How could you trick someone into thinking they had life ahead of them while you were robbing them of it? How can there be a place so evil as the one I stood in at Dachau? I had the same difficulty as I stood on the inside of the wrought iron gates that read “work will set you free”. A simple door handle separated me from the outside of the camp and yet, I could tell that freedom, in this place, was always meant as a facade. I watched people walk in and out of this relatively small gate with little thought to the significance of that simple action. I have a freedom that millions of people longed for: the ability to leave. As I walked through those gates and left the evil of Dachau behind me, I was left with some important questions about the nature of our world.
I cannot begin to imagine the true extent of all the cruelty that the victims of Dachau endured. I know some of their names, however, and this serves as a constant reminder of my experience in Dachau and the questions that I continue to wrestle with.
I am so sorry that you were victims to the intense cruelty that can exist in our world. I am so sorry that the lives of you and your family members were cut short by evil. I am so sorry that the two of you met (if you were ever able to meet) during such horrific circumstances.
We are given the parts of your story that allow us to remember the atrocities that you lived through, but we do not know you. You are unique and important and your experiences were so horrific that they are difficult for us to comprehend. However, you are not your stones.
In light of all this, I hope to make two promises to the both of you.
- I will never forget your names.
- I will try and ensure that history does not repeat itself.
I want to thank you for allowing us to remember you. Your names serve as a sobering reminder of our history and they challenge us to do better.
With all my love and respect,
Below are some pictures of the sloping stones that we have encountered throughout Europe.