We first ‘stumbled’ upon a stolperstein when we were exploring Berlin, and since then we’ve seen lots of stolpersteine in many different cities.
The direct translation from German is “stumble stone”, and the plural is stolpersteine. A stolperstein is a small 10cm x 10cm brass-topped cube inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. Each stolperstein commemorates an individual person and is placed in the pavement at the last place of residency – or sometimes work – which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to the Nazis.
The stolperstein art project was initiated by the German artist Gunyer Demnig in 1992, and is still ongoing. Over 60,000 stolpersteine have now been laid in 22 European countries, making the stolperstein project the world’s largest decentralized memorial.
Whilst most stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, they have also been laid to remember other people persecuted by the Nazis, such as people from ethnic minorities, homosexuals, Jehova’s Witnesses, communists, members of the Resistance, the mentally and physically disabled and so on. There’s more information here.
Seeing so many stolpersteine on our travels has really struck a chord with me, and I think it’s an excellent way of remembering the Holocaust, something which should never be forgotten.
Whenever I see a stolperstein, I stop to read the inscription before taking a photo to add to my gallery here.