A Stolperstein bearing the name of Lion Kunstenaar was placed in the pavement in front of the KB on May 16th. Stolpersteine, German for “stumbling stones” or “stumbling blocks,” are handmade block-shaped plaques placed to commemorate victims of the Nazis. Each stone is placed at the last address of the person it commemorates. 

Lion Kunstenaar

Lion Kunstenaar. © erven Lion Kunstenaar.

Lion (Jonny) Kunstenaar, born in 1902, was a pianist and representative. He married Anna Keijl in 1928. Because Lion and Anna were Jewish, they faced the oppression and persecution by the German occupying forces after the start of the war in 1940. Anna died from an illness in 1942 and was buried in Wassenaar. Lion went into hiding but was betrayed. He was sent to Westerbork transit camp from where he was deported to Auschwitz in November 1943. He was killed there. For a long time, his date of death remained unknown but was officially recorded as 31 December 1943. However, it was recently discovered that he was killed on or around 11 January 1944 in Josef Mengele’s infamous experiment barracks. 

Lion and Anna were not the only members of the Kunstenaar family who lived in The Hague. Lion's parents Joseph and Mietje lived on Badhuisweg in Scheveningen. Lion’s younger brother Samuel Simon and his family with two children lived on Gevers Deynootweg in Scheveningen. They were all murdered by the Nazis. Only Lion’s youngest brother Michel survived the war. 

The street and neighbourhood where the KB was built in 1982 were home to other Jewish families before and during the war. They were mainly middle-class people such as civil servants, military personnel and teachers. More information about people who were persecuted as Jews and did not survive the Holocaust can be found on the website of the Jewish Monument. 

What is the reason for a Stolperstein in front of the KB?

The current KB building and surrounding buildings, such as the National Archives and the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were built in the 1970s and 1980s. Before World War II, this was a residential area behind the former Staatsspoor railway station. The district was built in the late 19th century and expanded into the present-day Bezuidenhout district. One of the streets, Cornelis Speelmanstraat, was located exactly where the KB stands today. Lion Kunstenaar and his wife Anna Kunstenaar-Keijl lived at number 35. Also living in Lion and Anna’s house were Anna’s sister, her husband and their daughter Henriette. 

On 3 March 1945, Bezuidenhout was hit by a massive bombing raid that killed 800 people. Lion and Anna’s house was among those destroyed. They themselves had already died by then. Although Bezuidenhout was rebuilt after the war, the street pattern was changed in the process. The area where Cornelis Speelmanstraat once ran was designated for office buildings and institutions. However, a new Cornelis Speelmanstraat was created. You can find it on the opposite side of Prins Clauslaan, about 100 metres away.  

The Stolpersteine Foundation

Stolpersteine is a project by German artist Gunter Demnig to commemorate the victims of the Nazis: Jewish people, and also, for example, people with disabilities, deserters, and political prisoners. He placed the first stone in 1995, without permission at the time. More than 100,000 stones have been placed across Europe since then.  

For a long time, the artist made and placed each of the stones himself, but due to the tremendous growth of the project, he has been supported by a sculptor and two designers since 2005. Only one name is inscribed on each stone. The Nazis reduced people to numbers to erase their lives and memories. For this reason, the artist focuses on each person as an individual.