What's it all about?
A stolperstein (literally "stumbling block") is a type of monument created by artist Gunter Demnig to commemorate victims of Nazi oppression, including the Holocaust. Stolpersteins are small, cobblestone-sized memorials for individual victims of Nazism.
They commemorate individuals - both those who died and survivors - who were consigned by the Nazis to prisons, euthanasia facilities, sterilisation clinics, concentration camps, and extermination camps, as well as those who responded to persecution by emigrating or committing suicide.
While the vast majority of stolpersteins 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 anti-Nazi Resistance, military deserters, and the physically and mentally disabled.
The list of places that have stolpersteins now extends to several countries and hundreds of cities and towns. As of 11 January 2015, over 50,000 stolpersteins have been laid in 18 countries in Europe,making the project the world's largest memorial.
Before the Holocaust, it used to be the custom in Germany for non-Jews to say, on stumbling over a protruding stone, "There must be a Jew buried here!”
Information for stolpersteins comes from schools, relatives, and various organisations and especially the database of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The residential street addresses of Shoah victims in Germany are also available on the database version of the 1939 Germany Minority Census published online.
Once the research is done, Demnig manufactures a concrete cube 10 centimetres on a side, which he then covers with a sheet of brass. Into the brass he stamps the details of the individual: the name and year of birth, as well as the dates of deportation and death, if known.
The words Hier wohnte (here lived) are written on most of the memorials; others are installed at the individual's place of employment and refer instead to their work.
The stolperstein is then set, slightly raised, into the pavement or sidewalk in front of the last residence of the victim to "trip up the passerby" and draw attention to the memorial.
The cost of the stolpersteins is covered by donations, collections, individual citizens, contemporary witnesses, school classes, or communities. Until 2012, one stolperstein cost €95, a price that had remained the same since the project's inception. In 2012, the price increased to €120.
Please mention Aircrew Remembered when making an application, simply as we wish to be associated with this fine memorial project. We already have relatives who have contacted us with this project:
Stolpersteine Hannover - Henni Hein (nee Seckel), Erich Hein, Georg Hein, Gertrude Hein - Oct 17/14
Stolperstein - Hannover - Hedwig Seckel (nee Baer)
With thanks to Gunter Demnig for his work and to Karin Richert for photographs.
Stolperstein application form