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APRIL 19, 2012 11:59AM

Holocaust Memorial Day April 19, 2012 -Stolpersteine

Rate: 18 Flag

This post originally appeared on my blog, January 26, 2011.  

 Pictures from our extended trip to Lubeck, Germany in May 2011 are added to this post at it's conclusion.



As of 2010, there are 22,000 Stolpersteine placed in various countries in Europe. That number grows as more cities and countries get involved in this effort to honor and remember all those whom Hitler tried so hard to erase. I must confess I had not heard of this project until the summer when my children returned from Germany. During their time in Berlin (June 2010) their teacher pointed them out  and told them about the project. There are currently about 3000 of these markers in Berlin.

What exactly are these Stolpersteine or Stumbling Blocks that are being placed in so many places in Europe? They are markers which allow us to remember an individual who was taken (torn) from their home, arrested, deported and murdered. They are not actually stumbling blocks, as that would be dangerous to have that where people walk. They are a 4" x 4" shiny brass looking plaques affixed to a brick in the walkway. They say, Hier Wohnte (here lived), then a person's name, their date of birth, their deportation date, the date of their murder, and which camp it took place. The intention is to grab your eye, in the glimmering sun of day, to remember. It is to remember what took place in that spot and who that person was. 

 Part of the German culture class (at Fachhochschule where my son studied for a year, 2010-2011) that the students took fall semester included a scheduled tour of these Stolpersteine in Lubeck. There are Stolpersteine on the street where the student apartments (my son's former home there) are. The original building was destroyed in the Palm Sunday bombing of Lubeck in 1942. The two Stolpersteine blocks there belong to Fanny Aronsohn and her niece Flora Hess. They died in Riga.


In Lubeck from their website, the stones of the persons from Fischstrasse. 


In Berlin -Wiki

rock 2 

In Vienna - Wiki

rock 3 

Brussels - Wiki

rock 4 

 Frechen Germany - Wiki


Gunter Demnig - Wiki

The artist Gunter Demnig began this project in 1993. His idea was that "When another Stumbling Stone is laid in a sidewalk, the name of the former citizen becomes visible in front of the place where he or she last lived of his or her own free will. As a result the individual (in a sense) moves back to the city and the neighbourhood from which he or she was torn and is memorialized."

Some interesting things about the project in Lubeck are that it has relatively few blocks placed thus far, the project just began in Lubeck in 2002. There was a desire to fill in the blanks regarding the period of National Socialism on behalf of the victims, the effort to fill in the gaps of the history of that time became more important and perhaps more urgent. The project has accomplished approximately 85 placements. The blocks placed are carefully researched by a group of historians, and relatives are notified if there are any found. This is done to obtain more information and permission to honor their family member. They notify the current property owners that the placement will take place. Once the stone is ready to be placed the building department of the city is contacted. When the Stolpersteine, it is the property of the city. 

This artistic project by Gunter Demnig is an effort to memorialize the victims of National Socialism, and in so doing, that effort, has become the world's  largest  memorial.

The world is sustained by art. It's conscious is eased by artistic expression and remembrance. Do not doubt for one minute your purpose as an artist on this earth, whether you are a writer, a painter, a comedian, an actor, how ever you make your expression,  your work has value in the world. Without us, those who think, create; there would not be the beauty, the remembrance, the exercise to understand, to process, to heal the things that man does to man, that we do to one another. While this cannot help be a sad process here, for a very sad time in history, we know that even now it is offering closure, remembrance, a chance to restore in some small way a part of a whole that was once wrenched away. Does it bring significant relief of guilt to those who still might live from that time, or does it provide a cautionary reminder of what once was and what must never be again. I will leave you to be the judge of that.

This group in Lubeck does not specifically request donations from people outside of Lubeck, they want to involve local people. I think that says a lot right there. I do invite you visit the website that I have listed and learn more about the project. As the Stolpersteine project is taking place in many parts of Europe, you might have a personal connection to the project and I urge you to participate. There is still so much healing to be gained by memorializing those who were lost.  


 “In order to read the names of the victims we have to bow down before them.”

Gunter Demnig

Here is a very precise explanation from those who translated the web page for the Lubeck Stolpersteine  project. It is worth sharing here.

 *Translator’s Note:  Stumbling Stones is a literal translation of the German word  Stolpersteine.  Stolpersteine are paving or cobblestones that cause a person to trip or stumble because they are higher than all the other cobblestones in a street.  In turn they set off a person’s natural reaction to look down to discover what caused one to stumble in the first place.   In this case Gunter Demnig’s Stumbling Stones are not higher than the other sidewalk paving stones for that would be dangerous but it is hoped that the brass plaque causes one metaphorically to stumble by stopping in order to read the plaque.

Translation: Martin Harnisch and Glenn Sellick, 2009

 This was a featured guest post in the SpareCandy feminist blog.

Copyright 2011 by SheilaTGTG55 unless otherwise attributed. 









This was the center of Jewish life in Lubeck. It was in this area that many more Stolpersteine can be found. Located next to an ancient convent converted into a museum at the turn of the last century, the Synagogue was spared total destruction by the Nazis. They were afraid that if they burned it, they would destroy the museum located next door.

 Copyright 2012 by SheilaTGTG55



Never Again. 

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There is no way to express the magnitude of sorrow that many still feel, personal and unrequited. It is felt in the streets, many times when your foot is placed in front of one of these Stolpersteine. There were several in Lubeck. In the sense that you are never separated from history, Lubeck, being an almost ancient port, it seems you are never truly far from the memories held in this place, good and bad. It is your awareness that sets your mood and the connectedness of humanity that sharpens your sensitivity.
Rated Highly. Thank you for posting this.
Never again... I am forwarding a link to this post to my friend David who teaches post graduate Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas.
What a profoundly righteous thing to do. Thank you for letting us know about this — it is very moving.

I used to live next door to the granddaughter of a woman who somehow managed to escape from Germany in the spring of 1939. Her enormous trunk was stored in the attic of my neighbor's garage, and I could see it from the window next to my comfy chair. It became a kind of Stumbling Block for me, and I was grateful for the reminder.
Jon: We are on the same page.

littlewillie: Thank you for your visit.

jmac: Thank you, I appreciate that you will be passing this on, and I hope that many will, so that even now, in these times of political confusion and unrest, we will remember the things we need to. How we get to conclusions like the Holocaust and how that is not the conclusion, but the endless strand of pain for many who were completely innocent on both sides of the war. When great hatred takes hold, when truth doesn't matter, only who has the most power, then we go down a giant slide to hell together, almost regardless of our individual acts, yet without those acts, we cannot change the course. We must remember, we must prevent, we must be active.
Brunhilde: That is something that I hope you will write about. My mother had a large trunk from that era, and it also held its own stories. Thank you for reading.
Thank you for writing, Sheila. I had no idea about this project. It is profound and moving.
What a moving and wonderful project. Here in Paris, there are large black plaques that commemorate students deported from schools. Always so sad to see, and so important. Thank you for making me aware of the stolpersteine.
Hard to still confront and process the sorrow. You wrote a very touching story.
Gee, only 5,997,000 Stolpersteine to go.
I was just walking up Große Hamburger Straße here in Berlin this afternoon, going past the Jewish high school (with its inevitable police guards posted outside) and saw that someone had scrubbed the many Stolpersteine along that stretch of sidewalk to a golden sparkle. They looked pretty in the spring sunlight.

Thank you, Sheila and God bless you. R
Thank you for this post, Sheila. r
What an amazing project. It is moving to just read about it but I can imagine just how moving it must be to walk along and come across not only one but a group of these Stolpersteine.

Thank you for this, Sheila. I learnt something new and it gave me pause to remember and say my own little prayer.
froggy: I hope that many people who did not know about this project will pass this post on so that other that they know can learn about it. It is very moving to me and significant, even so many years later. It is important to remember.

Alysa: Perhaps one day there will be some Stolpersteine in Paris, if there are not some already. To remember is important.

Mary: Thank you Mary. I went back in and edited some of it to make it more understandable.

John: I know. I saw several blocks in Lubeck, and most of the names seemed familiar to me. People we met everyday, everywhere, so many lost someone; we are all a part of each other. I don't forget.

Alan: Alan, thank you for telling me that. I think that is significant.

Baltimore: Well I think it is very significant, thank you for noticing it too.

Thoth:You are very kind and I appreciate your visit and blessing.

Joan: Thank you for visiting Joan, this day means something to me and I have been considering all week what to put up. My friend mentioned this to me yesterday, that she had read it last year and I thought, now, that it is it; repost with more pictures from last spring.

Kate: I liked the concept of this memorial, it seemed to have been developed with a great deal of thought and meaning.
Rwoo5g: That is very interesting. I guess they thought it was in their best interest.
I remember this. Thanks for posting such important pieces.
fernsy: Thanks for visiting. I thought it would be okay to repost.
Thank you for this, Sheila. I never knew of this and am so happy that something so simple and inspiring is being done. It will be something for the ages, to help future generations to never forget.
Lea: Thank you for reading. I think you are right, as long as we keep doing things, especially like this, there is some hope.