Die Stolpersteine

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Stolperstein is the German word for “stumbling block”, “obstacle”, or “something in the way”.  The artist Gunter Demnig has given this word a new meaning, that of a small, cobblestone-sized memorial for a single victim of Nazism. These memorials commemorate individuals – both those who died and survivors – who were consigned by the Nazis to prisons, euthanasia facilities, sterilization clinics, concentration camps, and extermination camps, as well as those who responded to persecution by emigrating or committing suicide.

While the vast majority of stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, others have been placed for Sinti and Romani people (also called gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Black people, Christians (both Protestants and Catholics) opposed to the Nazis, members of the Communist Party and the Resistance, military deserters, and the physically and mentally disabled.

The list of places that have stolpersteine now extends to several countries and hundreds of cities and towns.

As of June 24, 2011, Demnig had installed 30,000 stolpersteine.

Berlin: there are about 2,950 stolpersteine.

Hamburg: as of April 15, 2009, there are 2,600 stolpersteine. There’s another stolperstein in memoriam of a former senator, 15 paces to the right of the entrance of Hamburg’s town hall. Many papers report about the project and expand the research. Between 1941 and 1945 10,000 Jews were deported from Hamburg.

Cologne: by the beginning of 2005, 1,400 stolpersteine had been placed.

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