Strolling around Berlin’s streets, you have probably noticed little gold-coloured cubes (10x10cm) which are embedded into the pavement- these cubes are known as Stolpersteine and they hold huge significance.
Stolpersteine, translating to stumbling stones, is a project by artist Gunter Demnig honoring Holocaust victims. Berlin has been home to this project since 1996, and today has around 9115 Stolpersteine have been placed throughout various districts. The project started with Demnig illegally placing Stolpersteine throughout Kreuzberg for 50 persecuted Jews. Each Stolperstein is placed in front of the last residence of the victim, in order to remember their name and history. Demning has often used the phrase:
„a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten”
which he clearly emphasizes with his art. The stones begin with “here lived” following the person’s name, where they were born, birth date, date of deportation and the date on which they were murdered.
This project has become the largest decentralized monument in the world. In comparison to many other memorials that commemorate a group of victims, this monument focuses on the individual, by placing only their name on the stone. To this day, much effort is put into the project, as Demnig oversees the installation of each individual Stolperstein and works together with a team of 8 people (as of May 2021). The cost of installing a Stolperstein is around 120 euros, which considering the significance and work put into each cube is quite little.
To honor their memory, the next time you pass by a Stolperstein take some time to read the victim’s name.
For more information please see: https://www.stolpersteine-berlin.de/en/project
„Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.‘
Elie Wiesel – a quote from his book Night-
By Cilia Trendelenburg & Juli Buchanan