Stolpersteine: the world’s largest project of commemoration
42,500 Stolpersteine in 1100 cities in 16 countries – but none in Munich!
Each Stolperstein (“stumbling block”) commemorates a victim of the Shoah.
Each is placed in the sidewalk in front of the building in which the victim lived before being dragged off by the Nazis to be murdered.
Each is commissioned by persons who have dedicated themselves to commemorating their family members, friends, neighbors.
Each Stolperstein is manufactured by hand and installed in the sidewalk by Gunter Demnig, the Cologne-based artist who launched this movement in 1994.
Each Stolperstein thus enables passersby to get to know and remember one of the 11 million people killed in the Holocaust.
2013 has been a memorable year for Stolpersteine.
In June, the number of Stolpersteine in Berlin passed the 5,000 mark. The city has set itself the goal of commemorating by the end of 2014 each of its victims of the Holocaust. The city with the second largest total of Stolpersteine is Hamburg, with 4,511.
As of mid-September, the number of cities in Germany with Stolpersteine had climbed to 883.
In late September, France became the 16th country to have Stolpersteine. Others range from Norway and Russia to Italy and the Netherlands, in which Stolpersteine have been installed in 83 cities.
These figures have been made possible by the support accorded by all groups of victims of the Shoah, including the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) community, the Sinti and Roma, and, of course, the Jews.
The directors of the Central Council of the Jews in Germany are Dr. Dieter Graumann, Dr. Salomon Korn and Dr. Josef Schuster. All have long been vociferous advocates of the Stolpersteine.
This support is found throughout world Jewry, by such international figures as Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger of London and Rabbi David Ellenson (president of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion). Yad Vashem cites the Stolpersteine as being an exemplary project.
2013 has also been a year of strong support for Stolpersteine Munich, in which major groups of victims and the media have strongly urged the municipal government to rescind its “shameful and shaming” ban – enacted in 2004 – on the Stolpersteine.
Despite this overwhelming support, Stolpersteine remain prohibited on public ground in Munich, although the city was the breeding ground of the Nazi movement – and although these “stumbling blocks” are found in the city’s suburbs and other surrounding communities.