Episode 17: Stumbling Stones

stolpersteine image

  • Located in all 12 districts of Berlin
  • Memorial project for individual holocaust victims 
  • Launched in 1995

When you are walking through the streets of Berlin heading to a meeting, to the grocery store or the subway station – what do you usually look at? What are the things you notice? It is actually interesting to think about this question. Maybe you pay attention to the shop windows, billboards, posters, architecture, the people crossing your way or the screen of your smartphone, something like that, right?

In a marvelous and busy city like Berlin, you probably don’t often pay attention to the floor you are walking on (well, maybe you should in order to avoid the millions of dog crap). So here is the most exiting reason why to pay attention to the ground during the next walk through your neighborhood: Stumbling Stones.

Contrary to what you might picture now, Stumbling Stones aren’t stupid rocks that lie around and make you stumble. The Stumbling Stones are an amazing memorial and art project spread out through all of Europe. So what do they consisting of? A Stumbling Stone is a concrete cube with a brazen tile on top. Once it’s placed in the sidewalk, you are only able to see the brazen surface with an inscription. Each Stumbling Stone commemorates an individual that has been murdered during the Holocaust: Jews, homosexuals, Sinti and Roma, Nazi resistance, the mentally or physically disabled – just to name a few.

The inscriptions look something like this:

Here lived Paula Löwenstein. Neé Sochaczewer. Born 1895. Deported 1942. Auschwitz. Missing.

or

Here lived Sally Epstein. Born 1907. Arrested as being member of the resistance 18 August 1933. Prison Berlin Plötzensee. Murdered 10 April 1935.

Originally the project started off in Germany, but today you can find stones in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. Quite impressive, don’t you think?

In Berlin alone, you can find more than 6,000 Stumbling Stones, most of them in the former predominantly Jewish neighborhoods such as in Mitte’s Scheunenviertel between Rosenthaler Platz, Hackescher Markt and Rosa Luxemburg Platz, but basically youwill encounter them everywhere once you start to pay attention. So in order to walk this talk, just leave your house and check the sidewalk of the street you live in, you’ll be surprised.

If you want to know more about the Stumbling Stones’ function as a memorial, listen to our talk below:

Photo and episode: Ute Linden

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