I happened upon his picture quite by accident, scrolling through a post about Prague. That little expression, so alert and mischievous just spoke to me. Who was he, I wondered? Who were his parents? The Stolpersteine, the Stumbling Stone, tells us his name was Stepan Michael Winternitz, born in 1935, deported to Terezin in 1942, to Auschwitz in 1944, and murdered there, age 9 years – a life in five facts.
What I could find about him was precious little: his mother was Lore, his father Rudolf; the couple were divorced; Lore and Stepan lived at Norimberská 5 in Prague; they were killed together at Auschwitz this week in October, 79 years ago.
I wonder about what we don’t know: What was his favorite bedtime story? His favorite song? Was he faster than the other boys on the playground? Did he like to listen to his grandfather speak of the old days? Did he play the violin like so many little Jewish boys?
But really what difference does it make? He was, after all, just one grain of sand on an endless shore. Why should anyone care if he was blown away by a hateful, violent wind? You decide.
In loving memory of Stepan Michael Winternitz and his mother, Lore Winternitzová.