Called the “largest decentralized monument in the world,” Cologne-based artist Gunter Demnig’s project Stolpersteine was started in 1996 and continues to grow.
Stolpersteine, meaning “stumbling stone or blocks,” are brass plaques embedded in the pavement in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Each inscription reads “HERE LIVED…” and includes the victim’s name, referring to the Talmud saying that “a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten.”
Anyone can sponsor the manufacture and installation of a Stolpersteine for 120 euros. Over 50,000 of these plaques have been installed outside the last address of choice of victims in over 1,000 locations in Germany and 17 other countries.
In 2004, Munich banned Stolpersteine from being installed in its public streets, provoking a debate around the project and the nature of memorials. Some argued that placing the stones in the ground where people would walk over them was not respectful, while others saw the removal and banning of the stones as more of a concern. An initiative to lift the ban has been established, and the project seems to have many supporters, including the new mayor.
Information about upcoming Stolpersteine laying ceremonies and lectures by Demnig can be found on the project’s website.