It is the artist Gunter Demnig's goal to give back to the victims of the Nazi era throughout Europe their names. The victims were Jews, Sinti and Roma, politically persecuted, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other victims of euthanasia.
Returning the names: the victim's name, dates of birth and death, and fates are engraved onto a 10cm x10cm brass plate which is attached to a cement block called a Stolperstein which is the German word for stumbling block. Each victim receives his individual stone. Thus the identity and the fate become visible. This memorial stone is anchored into the sidewalk, so as to be level with the sidewalk, in front of the victim's last freely chosen residence. Thus the stone is a reminder of the victim and his fate in the daily life of the passerby.
Gunter Demnig, a sculptor from Cologne, Germany, founded this art project. Since the beginning of the project, he has lain more than 40,000 such Stolpersteine in ca. 1000 cities and villages throughout Europe with the support of local initiative groups. He states: "each stone symbolizes the entirety of all of the victims because it is impossible to lay those stones needed for every single victim."
An outstanding aspect about the Stolperstein art project is that one unexpectedly comes across, or stumbles across, the shiny brass plates while walking down a street. Curious to learn what is engraved on the stone results that one bends down to read the briefly inscribed biography.
The memorial stones are placed in front of the last freely chosen home of the victim, usually into the sidewalk. Stolperstein translates into English as stumbling block, but in reality they are even with the pavement. Nonetheless the person "stumbles" onto them and his thoughts then wander about thinking about the person whose name is engraved on the stone.
will be lain soon at the spot where the Market Lane (Marktgasse) was once to be found as it can be seen on the postcard. Some of the people who once lived there were victims of the Nazi terror before the bombs destroyed this area.
Among these prior victims were Helmuth Wurr and his mother Martha Wurr, née Lewald, who lived at Market Lane 23 until 1940. Martha Wurr was a concert and opera singer who needed to work as a dishwasher in cafés in Kassel after her husband's death. Due to her contacts to a nazi official she caught the attention of nazi law officials. She was detained in the concentration camps Breitenau and Ravensbrück before being murdered in the Bernburg death camp. Her son Helmuth, who thus became an orphan, was then placed into so-called child care services and then became one of 40 murdered victims of the Hademar Mönchsberg orphanage. He lived to be 10 years old.
Please check out our website (under current information and schedule) in order to learn which victims we plan to memorialize and where the respective Stolpersteine shall be lain.
(translated by B. Bahr 2013)