Berlin Holocaust plaques, or Stolpersteine

There are small sidewalk-affixed plaques in many locations in Berlin, including on my street.  Here are some visual examples and here are many more.  They sit by the victim's former home and list the victim's name, the date he or she was taken away, and date and place he or she was murdered.  The word given is the more brutal "murdered" (ermordet), not "killed."  

Most plaques refer to Holocaust victims, although one nearby plaque is for a German general who apparently disliked the Nazis (and vice versa) and others are for gypsies, gays, and resistance fighters.  Here are further sites on the plaques, including in German.  Here is Wikipedia on the plaques; some homeowners do fear price depreciation.  Since the plaques are placed in public space, the homeowner has no veto rights.

The plaques are the brainchild of Gunther Demnig, a sculptor from Cologne who has made them his life's work.  A plaque costs 95 euros and a sponsor, often a relative or former friend, commissions Demnig to make a "Stolperstein," as he calls them in German, or a "stone to stumble upon."  The story of the origin of the plaques is here.  Demnig's parents were ardent Nazis, which he reports caused him to feel some responsibility for what happened.  He relies on records collected by the Gestapo itself. 

The first Stolpersteine he laid illegally in the mid 1990s.  As of April of this year, Demnig himself has installed over 22,000 of the plaques.  Here is Demnig's home page.

The city of Munich has since relented in its ban, and now it allows the plaques.



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