Stumbling blocks

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Stumbling stone in Berlin-Charlottenburg
Countries with misplaced stumbling blocks

The Stolpersteine are a project by the artist Gunter Demnig that began in 1992. With small memorial plaques laid in the floor , so-called stumbling blocks , the fate of the people who were persecuted, murdered , deported , expelled or driven to suicide during the Nazi era should be remembered . The square brass panels with rounded corners and edges are inscribed with letters hammered in by hand with a hammer and punch letters and are supported by a cast concrete cube with an edge length of 96 × 96 and a height of 100 millimeters. In front of the last freely chosen residential buildings of the Nazi victims, they are usually embedded at the same level in the pavement or the paving of the respective sidewalk. On December 29, 2019, Demnig laid the 75,000th Stolperstein in Memmingen .

Stumbling blocks were laid in Germany as well as in 25 other European countries. They are considered the largest decentralized memorial in the world. The Stolpersteine brand has been protected by Demnig at the German Patent and Trademark Office since 2006 and at European level since 2013.

The way to the stumbling blocks

Gunter Demnig , May 2012
First stumbling block in front of Cologne City Hall with Heinrich Himmler's deportation order (moved on December 16, 1992)

On the 50th anniversary of the deportation of 1,000 Gypsies from Cologne to trade stock on May 6, 1990 recorded Demnig with a signature track device according to the ways in which the Sinti and Roma were deported. For the National Socialists, the Cologne deportation was a “dress rehearsal” for the deportations of Jews . On December 16, 1992, the 50th anniversary of Heinrich Himmler's order to deport the " Gypsies " ( Auschwitz decree ), he let a first stone with a brass plate and inscribed in front of the historic Cologne City Hall in the pavement. The first lines of the decree can be read on the stone, and the entire text was contained in the hollow body of the stone. With this stone, Demnig also took part in the discussion about the right to stay for Roma who had fled Yugoslavia . The Stolperstein laid in front of the Cologne City Hall was broken out and stolen by strangers in 2010. On March 21, 2013, Gunter Demnig laid a new stumbling block in front of Cologne City Hall. The color trail May 1940 - 1,000 Roma and Sinti was concreted in brass at 22 selected places in Cologne in 1993 and symbolically placed under protection by the city of Cologne.

In the years that followed, Demnig developed the “Stolpersteine” project, which extended it to all persecuted groups. At first it was only intended as a theoretical concept for the publication megalomania - art projects for Europe , as Demnig assumed that there were six million necessary stumbling blocks for all of Europe. The pastor of the Antoniter congregation in Cologne, however, encouraged Demnig to lay at least a few selected stones in order to set an example. In 1994 there was an exhibition of 230 stumbling blocks in the Antoniterkirche in Cologne. On January 4, 1995, Demnig laid the first stones in Cologne on a trial basis and without authorization from the authorities. In May 1996 he took part in the exhibition Artists research after Auschwitz in the NGBK in Berlin-Kreuzberg and also laid 51 stones in Berlin's Oranienstrasse without official approval. For the first time with official approval, two stones were laid in Sankt Georgen near Salzburg on July 19, 1997 at the invitation of the founder of the memorial service, Andreas Maislinger . The mayor of Sankt Georgen, Friedrich Amerhauser, was the first mayor to give Gunter Demnig permission to lay stumbling blocks. In Germany, further stumbling blocks were officially approved and laid in Cologne in 2000. This then led to a series of relocations actions that led to the world's largest “decentralized memorial ”.


Demnig's intention is, among other things, to return their names to the Nazi victims, who were demoted to numbers in the concentration camps . Bending down to read the texts on the stumbling blocks should be a symbolic bow to the victims. By marking the “crime scenes of deportations”, which are often located in the middle of densely populated areas, the protective claim made by some contemporary witnesses that they did not notice anything about the deportations is questioned.

For his part, Demnig criticized the concept of central memorials for the victims, which in his opinion were not sufficiently visible to the public. Once a year dignitaries lay a wreath at such memorial sites , "... but others can simply bypass the memorials." His aim is to bring the names of the victims back to the places where they lived. Despite the term stumbling blocks , Demnig is not about actual “stumbling”. When asked about the name of the project, he likes to quote a student who, when asked about the risk of stumbling, replied: "No, no, you don't stumble and fall, you stumble with your head and your heart."

The popular smartphone and tablet game Pokémon Go, as well as the position-based game Ingress , access virtual portals that have the stumbling blocks, like other monuments, as orientation marks. “I just find it tasteless what the game manufacturer is doing. There has to be a limit somewhere, ”said artist Gunter Demnig to WDR . He doesn't know how many of his stumbling blocks are used by the manufacturer Niantic for the games. He couldn't take action against it anyway, said Demnig: "I'm in a certain way helpless."

Support and funding

Demnig received data for his first stones in cooperation with the non-profit association for the understanding of Roma & Sinti ( Rom e.V. ), whereupon many research initiatives, often groups of students, were founded. In addition to local archives and historical address books, the database of the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem is an important aid . Stumbling blocks are financed through private donations. A stone cost 120 euros in 2019 including its laying. Every citizen can take on a partnership for a stone. Since 2016 the project has been organized by the non-profit foundation - Traces - Gunter Demnig founded by Gunter Demnig . The foundation receives all payments and donations and employs Demnig, who receives a fixed salary, and six other employees.

In 2012, the project was awarded the Marion Dönhoff Prize for International Understanding and Reconciliation and funded with 10,000 euros. Jury member Anne Will said, “… that there are now more than 37,000 of these stones is a great achievement and a great merit. Because they let the Germans 'stumble' over and over again over the National Socialist crimes and thus keep the memories of the victims alive. ”In the same year Demnig received the Erich Kästner Prize , whose prize money of 10,000 euros went to the Stolpersteinen and the New Jewish Cemetery in Dresden . Laudator Avi Primor acknowledged the project with the words: “The stumbling blocks are the opposite of repression. They lie at our feet, in front of our eyes, and force us to look. Projects like the Stolpersteine ​​made a dialogue between the people in Germany and Israel possible. "

Manufacture and design of the stones

Stumbling block before laying

The stumbling blocks are made exclusively by hand because, according to Demnig, this is in contrast to the mechanical extermination of people in the concentration camps . Initially he made them himself. With the expansion of the project, however, he has been supported by the sculptor Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender since 2005 , who receives 50 euros per stone and by June 2018 had produced over 60,000 stumbling blocks in his workshop with two employees. The Stolpersteine ​​have been made in his workshop in the Künstlerhof Berlin-Buch since 2006 . As soon as new data are available, Demnig determines the text, which usually begins with “Here lived ...”, followed by the name of the victim and the year of birth, often with the year of deportation and place of death. In some cases the text begins with "Here lived ...", "Here worked ...", "Here taught ..." or "Here learned ...". Depending on the occasion, the texts begin: "Baptized here ...", "Shot here ...", "Worked here ..." or "Here stood ...". The texts are wrapped in specially cut brass plates, the edges of which protrude slightly above and below and further to the right and left and then bent backwards. The brass plate is poured back with concrete . It is then firmly connected to the concrete block by the surfaces bent to the right and left.


Stumbling block laying
Video of the laying of the replacement stumbling block for the Auschwitz Decree in front of Cologne City Hall in March 2013, after strangers broke out and stole the original, which had been moved in 1992, in 2010

Demnig allows the stumbling blocks to be flush with the sidewalk. This happens immediately before the last place of residence freely chosen by the victim. The most important source of address addresses as well as personal entries for any memorial books are the supplementary cards from the census of May 17, 1939. If the houses of the victims are no longer preserved, for example because the city structure was reorganized during the reconstruction after the Second World War , some stumbling blocks were raised or laid in front of the resulting open spaces. The stumbling blocks become the property of the city or municipality after they have been laid, which is why official approval is important.

By the end of 2016, Gunter Demnig and his representatives had set over 70,000 stones in Europe, including over 7,000 in 1099 cities and communities in Germany.

At the beginning of 2020 there were over 75,000 memorial stones in almost 1,200 German cities and communities. In addition to Germany, the stumbling blocks have so far been laid in 25 other countries.

List of countries with stumbling blocks, sorted according to the year the stone was first set:

From Catalonia and Apulia to Northern Norway

Stolpersteine ​​in Groningen, laid in 2010

Demnig's project is now anchored across Europe, with clear regional differences. In Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Warsaw, Poznan and Danzig, Belgrade and Zagreb, no stumbling block has been laid so far, but there are stumbling blocks in many, even remote, small towns and villages in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. France, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine are still hesitant to participate in the project, only a very small number of stumbling blocks - in relation to the number of victims - could be laid in these countries. So far not a single stumbling block has been laid in Bulgaria, Great Britain and Serbia. In Slovenia, numerically relevant relocations did not begin until the end of the 2010s, in Poland and Croatia the project is just beginning. In Romania, only a 6-member Jewish family from Porț, a small village in former Transylvania, and a single man from Timișoara have been remembered so far. The project met with broad approval not only in Germany, but also in eight other countries. In addition to the Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic, Norway, Austria, Slovakia, Spain and Hungary in particular are trying to find stumbling blocks for their victims of the Nazi regime, and increasingly also Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece.


The first officially approved stumbling blocks , dedicated to the Nobis brothers, two Jehovah's Witnesses

Although Austria was the first nation after Germany to invite Demnig, and the first official permit for the laying of stumbling blocks was issued in Austria, the stumbling block density in the Alpine republic is below average. Exceptions are the city of Salzburg with more than 400 stones, in addition to Amsterdam, Hilversum and Rotterdam, the city outside Germany with the most stumbling blocks, Graz with more than 200 and Wiener Neustadt with over a hundred and Hallein with 40 stones. These cities endeavor to systematically record their victims (as of June 2020). There are also several stumbling blocks in Carinthia , Upper Austria and Vorarlberg , seven in Tyrol and none in Burgenland. The first Stolperstein in Europe was laid in Braille in Graz and is dedicated to Irene Ransburg. As the Israeli ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher announced in an interview in 2018, the Upper Austrian city of Linz is the only city she knows in German-speaking countries that does not allow stumbling blocks. On November 22, 2019, it was announced that the jury in Linz had decided instead of stumbling blocks for memorials in the form of 1.5 m high and 35 cm wide steles, which were designed by artist Andreas Strauss with names, dates and bell buttons and should be set up at 20 residential addresses. The laying of original stumbling blocks was also consistently prevented in Vienna . There are several hundred imitations, organized decentrally by five different associations. Demnig himself sees the Vienna Stones of Memory and similar projects as plagiarism . The art historian Galit Noga-Banai from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem even spoke of “'fake memorials' that would undermine what unites Demnig's project” and of “forgery”.


Demnig has been regularly invited to lay stumbling blocks in the Netherlands since 2007 . The first city, Borne , in which 81 stones have been laid today, has been followed in quick succession by more than a hundred cities and municipalities with more than 7,000 laying (as of June 2020). In contrast to Norway, there is no central recording and documentation of all installed stumbling blocks in the Netherlands, which is why only estimates are available so far. The Stichting Stolpersteine ​​Amsterdam , founded in 2019, has started a systematic recording on a scientific basis, the number of stones laid there is estimated at around 650. Around 400 stones each can be found in Hilversum and Rotterdam , and at least 156 in The Hague . Furthermore, small towns with a systematic recording of their victims should be mentioned: Oss (343), Assen (303), Eindhoven (274), Gouda (258), Schiedam (with more than 150) and Stadskanaal (141).

Czech Republic

Stolperstein in the New Town of
Prague for Petr Ginz , murdered in Auschwitz

In the Czech Republic , where the “Stolperstein” work began in Prague on October 8, 2008 , there is now almost complete coverage with stumbling blocks. In 13 of the 14 regions, Demnig and other numerous initiators laid stones. At present (as of June 2020) it is not yet known how many stumbling blocks were laid in the Czech Republic. In Prague, 375 stumbling blocks have been laid between 2008 and 2020, in Olomouc 213 stumbling blocks and a stumbling block (as of November 2017), in Brno 78 original stumbling blocks and 19 memorial stones for Nazi victims . The East Moravian city of Ostrava is one of the other focal points. There are 17 stumbling blocks in Neratovice , 15 in Tišnov , and another 9 in the minority Lomnice u Tišnova (Lomnica). A particularly tragic fate affected the little Czech girl Hana Brady , who was 13 years old and murdered in the gas chambers by the Nazi regime. In 2010, a stumbling block was laid for her father Karel Brady-Metzl in Třeboň (German Wittingau) .


Stumbling block in Brescia for Ubaldo Migliorati, a 1943 submerged soldier who in March 1945 in the Buchenwald concentration camp was murdered

In Italy , the “Stolperstein” work began on January 28, 2010 in Rome , where 249 stones have been laid so far. This was followed in 2012 by the regions of Liguria , Trentino-South Tyrol and Lombardy , in 2014 Veneto and Tuscany , in 2015 Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont (the 50,000th stumbling block in Europe was laid in Turin on January 11, 2015) and in 2016 Abruzzo , Apulia and Friuli -Julian Veneto , 2017 the Marche , 2019 Sicily and 2020 Campania . In Italy there are clear regional differences compared to other countries: In addition to the Jewish population group and the political resistance, numerous stumbling blocks are also dedicated to members of the Italian armed forces who, after Italy left the war on September 8, 1943, were disarmed, arrested and as Italian military internees (IMI) were deported to Germany, where they had to do forced labor. The IMI status was used to deny the formerly allied soldiers the status of prisoners of war , which they under the protection of III. Geneva Convention of 1929 on the Treatment of Prisoners of War . The Italian military internees were sometimes treated worse than the Soviet prisoners because of the exploitation of their labor, food deprivation and lack of medical care.


Norway is the first country to systematically plan a stumbling block for all Jewish victims during the Nazi regime. 2,173 Jews were living in Norway when Hitler's Germany invaded the country. 772 were arrested and deported, 34 of them returned. The project is relatively far advanced, with 608 stumbling blocks laid so far in all provinces, with the exception of Agder (as of August 2020). Demnig moved from Rogaland in the south to the far north, to Berlevåg and Hammerfest . The largest proportion of stumbling blocks are in Oslo (331 so far) and Trondheim (65). Become possible is the systematic recording of the victims for two reasons, both because of the limited number of victims, on the other hand, due to the advanced victimology in Norway. Norway is the only country to have a website that records all stumbling blocks laid for Jewish victims in a timely manner. It was created by the Jødisk Museum i Oslo and is also maintained by this institution. There are two language versions, Norwegian and English.

A few stumbling blocks are also dedicated to resistance fighters who had no Jewish ancestors.


Although Spain was never occupied by the Nazi regime, there are many Spaniards who were murdered in German concentration camps. During the German occupation of France , many Spanish republicans who fled to France to avoid falling into the hands of Franco's henchmen were arrested by the Nazi regime. They were either deported to Mauthausen concentration camp or handed over to the Vichy regime . Around 7,000 Spaniards were imprisoned in Mauthausen and sentenced to forced labor, more than half of them were murdered by the Nazi regime. The Franco regime stripped the surviving concentration camp prisoners of Spanish nationality and made them stateless . For several decades they were denied any form of victim recognition or reparation.

Demnig has been laying Stolpersteine ​​in Catalonia since 2015, and on the Balearic Islands since 2018 . In December 2018, the city administration of Madrid announced that it had commissioned Demnig with the production of 449 stumbling blocks for victims of the Nazi regime. 445 of these stones are dedicated to men and 4 women.

Other countries

Stumbling blocks in front of the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen

In Denmark so far twelve stumbling blocks were laid (as of August 2020) - carryover rate of the local Jewish population was "only" two percent, thanks to the successful refusal of the Danish Government to introduce the Star of David and the racial laws, and the courageous rescue of over 7200 Danish Jews and almost 700 of their non-Jewish partners to Sweden by the Danish population, just before the Nazi regime could deport and murder them.

In Sweden , in 2007 and 2010, the Forum för levande historia (Forum for Living History) rejected requests to put up signs at addresses of abducted and murdered Jewish refugees in Stockholm. The reason was that these memorabilia could make a “frightening” impression on passers-by, which was not in the interests of Stockholm city administration. From February 2017 the question was discussed again, this time with positive signs. In November 2018, the Stockholm City Council provided the necessary funds. The first three stumbling blocks were laid in Stockholm in June 2019.

The laying of “stumbling blocks” in Kreuzlingen , Switzerland, may also be astonishing , as Switzerland was never under the control of the Nazi regime. The Nazi victims from Switzerland brought mostly illegal documents across the border and were caught in the process.

The stumbling blocks attract a lot of international attention, even in countries where none are laid, such as the United States.

Trip Threats

Tripping threshold in Thessaloniki 05.JPG
Trip-threshold in Thessaloniki.jpg
Trip-free threshold in Thessaloniki with text in three languages before the former command center Eichmann and Brunner that the Holocaust in Greece planned

In addition to stumbling blocks, Demnig occasionally also installs so-called stumbling blocks in the format 100 x 10 cm, with which whole groups of victims are thought of. For example, he moved a trip threshold in Stralsund's main train station , dedicated to the 1160 mentally ill people who were transported from here in December 1939 and were victims of Operation T4 , murdered by the Nazi regime in Wielka Piaśnica . In Geislingen , for example, other tripping thresholds remind of the forced laborers of the local concentration camp subcamp , in Ettelbrück of the victims of the Shoah in Luxembourg, in Glinde of the victims of a labor camp there, in Merseburg of the victims of the T4 campaign and in Cologne of 1000 Roma victims and Sinti . Other trip-thresholds are known in Bad Buchau , two in Berlin-Friedenau , one each in Braunschweig , Hamburg , Ingelheim-Heidesheim , Karben , Leipzig , Messel , Nassau , Regensburg , Rüsselsheim , two more in Stralsund , one in Völklingen , two in Weingarten and another in Olbernhau . The trip threshold in Thessaloniki is placed in front of the house from which Alois Brunner and Adolf Eichmann planned and organized the deportation and extermination of 96.5 percent of all Jews from this city. Another trip threshold in Seesen (Harz) reminds of the students of the Jacobson School .

In 2017 the art project made its first relocation outside of Europe. In Argentina , in the presence of the German Ambassador Jürgen Mertens , a trip threshold was laid at the entrance to the Pestalozzi School in Buenos Aires on October 30th . It honors the German school abroad, founded in 1934, as a place of refuge for those persecuted by National Socialism. On behalf of Gunter Demnig, Anna Warda from the Foundation - Traces - Gunter Demnig was present at the laying ceremony .

In the Czech Republic , the first trip threshold was laid in Olomouc on November 14, 2017. The initiator was the city's senator, Lumír Kantor, in collaboration with the Olomouc Jewish Community ( Židovská obec Olomouc ). The trip threshold is in front of the elementary school in Hálkova ulice, which in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was a gathering place for the deportees before they were moved from the nearby train station. In 1942, four transports with a total of 3508 people from Olomouc and other communities went to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and then to other concentration camps, of which only 295 survived.

Remembrance Stones

In December 2018, Gunter Demnig expanded his concept and created the so-called Remembrance Stones , which are intended to commemorate the victims of Franquism . He laid the first of these stones on December 15, 2018 in Porreres on Mallorca . The idea behind it is that the Remembrance Stones should be used to think of people who were not direct victims of National Socialism, but rather of related Franquism. Here the artist would like to build a bridge in memory, because without the National Socialist support Francisco Franco would not have been able to expand his power and repression in this form and speed and maintain it for over 40 years. The first of these memorial stones are for 20 mayors and politicians who were imprisoned, tortured and murdered in Mallorca between 1936 and 1939 by the nationalists and supporters of Franco. The stones lie in front of their former homes or their workplaces, the town halls.

Cleaning the stones, memorial days

The stumbling blocks are laid in exposed places and thus exposed to the weather, road dust and often also the excrement of dogs and birds. Demnig himself recommends regular cleaning of the stumbling blocks, and many regional associations and initiatives have drawn up cleaning plans. Two days of remembrance are used particularly often to clean the stumbling blocks and light candles to commemorate the murdered or exiled people; these are both the

In some cases, the Open Monument Day in Germany, the second Sunday in September, or Monument Day in Austria, the last Sunday in September, are used for stumbling block cleaning, guided tours and tours. Again and again young people come together who clean, polish or maintain stumbling blocks on their own initiative.


The concept of "stumbling blocks" has also been criticized: A vehement opponent of Demnig's project is Charlotte Knobloch , President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern (IKG), who described it as "unbearable" to read the names of murdered Jews on tablets, which are embedded in the ground and whereupon people “kicked around”. She publicly presented the supporters of the Stolperstein project as “memorialists” in the succession of the perpetrators of the extermination of the Jews .

However, opinions differ among prominent Jews. The Vice President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Salomon Korn , defended the project. Also the Vice President of the World Jewish Congress and successor to Knobloch as President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (until November 2014), Dieter Graumann , the current Central Council President Josef Schuster or the former President of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany and current chairman of the second Jewish community in Munich, Beth Shalom , Jan Mühlstein , have spoken out in favor of the project. Demnig himself contradicted Knobloch's metaphor “trampling on fates” and considers it to be a trivialization of the crimes of the Nazis, “because if the Nazis had been content with that, then people would have got bruises but would still be alive. But the Nazis had an extermination program. "

Knobloch also criticized that laying the memorial stones in the ground could smear or contaminate them.

Memorial plaque for Emma and Hans Hutzelmann in Munich-Sendling

As a result of the city council resolution, memorial steles and plaques designed by Kilian Strauss have been erected in Munich since 2018. The stainless steel steles have a cross-section of 6 × 6 cm and a height of 1.86 meters. Up to 12 boards for family members fit on each. The steles are erected in front of the formerly inhabited houses. With the consent of the house owner, a stainless steel beam in the same format can also be attached to the facade.

Cities that reject the laying of stumbling blocks mostly cite Knobloch's criticism or make their approval for laying dependent on a positive vote from their Jewish community. The best-known example is Munich , where the only two stumbling blocks laid on public land have been removed from the sidewalk on Mauerkircherstraße, as the city council and the relevant part of the Jewish community are against stumbling blocks. The two removed stumbling blocks came after a stopover at the Jewish cemetery in the Munich Music Academy and were part of an artistic installation. With reference to fire protection, the installation was removed in 2011. In Munich there are only stumbling blocks on private property. More than 200 stumbling blocks for Munich victims have already been made and cannot be moved; they have been stored in a cellar ever since. After the Mayor of Munich Christian Ude , who shared Knobloch's point of view, left office due to age in the municipal elections in Bavaria in 2014, the newly elected Munich City Council held a public hearing on the project in December 2014 . This was on the verge of a scandal when a representative of the IKG significantly exceeded the agreed speaking time in her criticism of the stumbling blocks. Representatives of other victim groups such as homosexuals or former prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp , however, spoke out in favor of the stumbling blocks. On April 28, 2015, the governing parliamentary groups of the SPD and CSU agreed that the Nazi victims should be commemorated with memorial boards and steles instead of stumbling blocks , provided relatives and house owners agree. Terry Swartzberg and the “Initiative Stolpersteine ​​für München” collected over 80,000 signatures for their project by June 2015. On July 29, 2015, the Munich city council spoke out against the stumbling blocks on public streets and squares of the city by a large majority. On May 31, 2016, the Munich Administrative Court dismissed a lawsuit for the laying of stumbling blocks in Munich.

In some cities, permits for laying the stumbling blocks are issued after discussions and in some cases subject to conditions (e.g. the consent of the homeowner). In Krefeld , for example, at the request of the Jewish community, which supported Knobloch's argument, the city council initially rejected the move. Only after a successful referendum was a compromise found: If the respective homeowners and the relatives of the victims agree, the stumbling blocks can be moved. Stumbling blocks have now also been laid in Krefeld . In Bad Homburg , despite citizens' initiatives and collections of signatures, there was no approval for the relocation for a long time, until Stolpersteine ​​could be relocated in May 2016 and March 2017. In Rheinbach , 14 stumbling blocks were laid in December 2016 after years of opposition from politics. In Augsburg there was a long-term dispute between supporters and opponents of the Stolperstein project. The reason for this was that in Augsburg - as in the state capital Munich - the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde raised reservations. In May 2014, two stumbling blocks were laid on private property in the presence of Gunter Demnig, but there was no approval of the Augsburg city council for stumbling blocks in public spaces. In March 2015, an agreement was finally reached, stating that in future, in addition to the laying of stumbling blocks, "alternatively, boards that can be attached to lanterns or street sign posts and steles as memorials will be possible". For the type of remembrance in Augsburg, the will of the relatives of a victim in particular should be taken into account in the future, "even if, for example, the Jewish community disagrees." In Rottweil , the working group "Remembrance Culture" had discussed and discussed the topic behind closed doors for almost two years prepared for the municipal council. Nevertheless, he could not agree. Mayor Ralf Broß (independent) declared that this was an express wish of the Jewish community. The municipal council of Villingen-Schwenningen has already rejected the Stolpersteine ​​twice and would rather have a memorial with the names of all victims. No stumbling blocks are laid in Linz either. Another way of commemorating the Nazi victims in Linz is to be found.

In 2014, relatives of Nazi victims criticized that "Nazi jargon" could be read on some stumbling blocks. National Socialist terms such as “ racial disgrace ”, “ habitual criminal ” or “ pest of the people ” are given as grounds for a conviction , without the terms being relativized. Scientists also joined the concerns. Martina Staats, director of the Wolfenbüttel memorial, finds "labeling in the perpetrator's language not appropriate". Quoting such terms without linguistic distancing is "simply impossible" and very painful for the survivors of Nazi persecution, said Detlef Garbe , head of the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial of the taz . Demnig explained that the language of the perpetrators was used to “depict the injustice of the Nazis” and that the terms were finally in quotation marks so that even young people would notice: Something is wrong.

Sometimes homeowners or tenants, in front of whose houses the stumbling blocks are being laid, criticize the project. There are several reasons for this. The spectrum ranges from right-wing extremist ideas, the belief in a reduction in value due to the stumbling blocks to a professional rejection of the project to the fear of right-wing extremist attacks after the relocation. The Stuttgart Regional Court ruled on a civil action that stumbling blocks do not represent any impairment or impairment of property.

The Jewish artist Deborah Petroz-Abeles , artist name Dessa, critically reflects on the stumbling blocks in her work and suggests proud stones as her alternative; Memorial stones that you can proudly look up to.

In connection with the laying of the stumbling block for the Ernst Thälmanns family in Singen , AfD member of the state parliament, Wolfgang Gedeon, expressed his concerns about a “memory dictatorship” in a letter at the beginning of 2018. The then Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas sharply rejected the AfD politician's criticism. "The louder the demand for their end, the more stumbling blocks we need."


In 2011, after a tax audit, the Cologne tax office initially raised the full sales tax rate of 19 percent for the 27,000 stumbling blocks that had been laid in Germany up to then. The reason was that it was mass production and that laying the stones was not a creative activity. Therefore, the reduced tax rate for works of art protected by copyright cannot be claimed. The tax office later waived the additional tax payment, but wanted to levy the full sales tax rate in future. In June 2011 it was finally decided that the reduced tax rate of seven percent would remain.

Vandalism, right-wing violence and reservations

In the years 2001 to 2011, according to Demnig, there were 700 cases nationwide in some right-wing extremist graffiti and other forms of vandalism against the more than 30,000 stumbling blocks that had been laid by then. Some of this damage is maliciously commented on in right-wing extremist media.

Stumbling blocks are repeatedly torn out across Germany. In 2012, all stones were removed from the pavement in Greifswald before the anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht and in 2017 twelve stones disappeared in Berlin-Neukölln. At the beginning of 2017, stumbling blocks with the names of Germans who had died there during the Allied air raids were pasted over in Dresden .

Sometimes the initiators of the Stolpersteine, either relatives or friends of the victims or residents of the houses who are interested in the story, are threatened by opponents of the Stolperstein action.

A number of homeowners do not want any stumbling blocks on their doorstep because they fear depreciation or vandalism by neo-Nazis . In addition, the city of Munich refuses to approve the laying of stones in public spaces, stating that it would trample on the victims. The reason given by the city is that critics of the Jewish community in Munich see it that way.

Similar and derivative projects

Material memorial objects

In 2002, the district youth council of the Wuppertal district of Cronenberg moved two “stumbling blocks” for Rita and Yzchok Gerszt , which they made themselves according to the description on Demnig's website and which were supplemented by an exhibition. Demnig protested and prohibited further such actions. At another address, the Gerszt couple have also had Stolpersteine ​​laid by Demnig since 2008.

In the city of Munich there was a public debate about the forms of remembrance with small memorials at the last place of residence. In 2018, following a city council resolution, the city administration established a coordination office for memorial signs for victims of the Nazi regime in Munich . At the request of relatives, she attaches small boards to houses with a picture of the person and a brief text or sets up free-standing steles. By July 2019, around 50 such "memorial signs" based on the stumbling blocks had been inaugurated. There are numerous stumbling blocks in the city on private properties or in exhibitions.

In Rostock , the Max-Samuel-Haus is laying memorial stones in front of the former homes of Jewish citizens, which are not related to Demnig's art project (see: List of memorial and stumbling blocks in Rostock ). Until 2015 they were also called "stumbling blocks", since 2016 newly laid stones are called "memorial stones".

In the Thuringian state capital Erfurt , the initiative “Erfurter GeDenken 1933-45” launched a competition in 2007, from which Sophie Hollmann's “ DenkNadeln ” emerged as the winner. These eye-catching thinking needles stand in front of the last apartments in the city freely chosen by the victims. They symbolize needles that stick into a wound. A metal plate with the life data of the victims is attached to the needles. But there are always misinterpretations of the thinking needles, for example one stands in front of a café (Domplatz 23) and is often viewed by strangers as an ice cream cone.

Since 2005, paving stone-like memorial plaques - not by Gunter Demnig - have been laid in Vienna . This project is called Stones of Remembrance and is supported by the City of Vienna, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism and private donors. Demnig regards the “stones of memory” as plagiarism .

As part of its examination of the crimes of the Nazi dictatorship, the project Remembering for the Future started in 2008, in Vienna's Mariahilf commemorative objects for 740 murdered Mariahilfer to install. The memorial objects consist of 10 cm × 10 cm brass plates that are labeled with the names and dates of the victims.

Even before Demnig laid the first stumbling blocks in Italy in 2010, the first 21 “Traces of Remembrance” were laid on January 26, 2009 in the Piedmontese city ​​of Saluzzo . In front of the earlier homes of 21 murdered Jews, 12 cm × 12 cm brass plates were set into the floor. The plates were designed by school classes as part of the local project “Tracce del ricordo” (Traces of Memory). The text always begins with “Qui abitava” ( Here lived”), followed by name, place of death, age and the reason for the deportation: “Perché Ebreo / a” ( because he / she was a Jew”).

On March 20, 2009, the first eleven “memorial stones” were laid in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf . The "thinking stones" were created based on the stumbling blocks. Originally, stumbling blocks were used to remember the victims from the "Pastor Grüber's Office" . Gunter Demnig did not agree with the desired longer texts and therefore suggested a "handcrafted alternative". In the meantime, memorial stones have also been laid in other Berlin districts .

On the place of the invisible memorial in Saarbrücken , the names of 2146 Jewish cemeteries were carved on the underside of paving stones.

Since 2015, individual memorial stones (Herdenkingsstenen) have been laid in various places in the Netherlands. The local initiatives of these communities have decided to lay their own stones. In Amersfoort are 433 stones in Vught 11 and in Veendam 164 stones are laid. Here, a great similarity to the Stolpersteine ​​project is deliberately sought (slightly larger, bronze or stone instead of brass) and at the same time it is checked in advance whether Demnig can take legal action against it. This is generally justified with the wish to lay a large number of stones promptly, but the artist cannot or does not want to deliver this number in the desired time. In addition, those responsible argue that with the number of 400 to 500 stones laid per year, Demnig cannot lay stones for all victims of National Socialism until the end of his life.

The municipal council of Linz (Austria) decided in November 2019 to set up steles with names and bell buttons at 20 addresses .

a final address in Moscow

The project last address started in 2014 in Russia , 2017 in Ukraine, 2018 in Georgia and 2019 in Germany. Memorial plaques on the outside of the last known residential building commemorate victims of Stalinist repression .

Intangible memorial objects

Between 2012 and 2013, a cooperation between six independent radio stations in Erfurt , Halle (Saale) , Hamburg , Nuremberg , Linz and Salzburg created the first audio stumbling blocks. The project was developed and managed by the radio factory . These are 60 short biographies of people from these six cities and their surrounding areas, who were honored with a stumbling block. In addition, twelve longer programs were produced that deal in detail with aspects of the Holocaust or the “Stumbling Blocks” project. All programs appeared on the radio and are also available on the Internet.

From November 8, 2013 to May 8, 2015, SWR2 undertook a radio project based on Gunter Demnig's work. The one to three minute acoustic stumbling blocks were broadcast at different times of the day, they trace the life stories of those persecuted by the Nazi regime from the broadcast area. The life data engraved on the stumbling blocks are supplemented by excerpts from letters, diary entries and interviews with contemporary witnesses. They tell of individual fates, the extinction of entire families or of a new beginning in a foreign country. The stumbling blocks (prepared with archive material such as personal documents, photos or videos) can be listened to at any time on the Internet. An app for mobile devices also makes it possible to call up the acoustic stumbling blocks on site and to display a route to other memorial stones.

Material memorial objects unrelated to the Nazi tyranny

“Smirking stones”, Leichlingen

The artist Tom Fecht commemorates the victims of AIDS with the project “Names and Stones” and his stones in over 40 locations .

In Leichlingen , the local carnival association relocated slightly differently designed “smiley stones” in memory of deceased members, which led to numerous protests and demands for removal. For Demnig, this is plagiarism, but he does not want to take legal action against it.

In Russia , the Posledny adres (Last Address) project has been commemorating the victims of the Great Terror since 2014 . For this purpose, memorials with the dates of life are attached to the outer front of the last residential building.


  • The documentary filmmaker Dörte Franke shot the documentary film Stolperstein about the “Stolpersteine” . She is the daughter of Uta Franke, Demnig's partner and coordinator of the project at the time. After being screened at two film festivals, the film premiered on November 1, 2008 in the Odeon cinema in Cologne and has been in cinemas across Germany since November 6, 2008.
  • the symbol: the stumbling blocks , 5.54 minutes, Arte available until March 17, 2021


On the occasion of Gunter Demnig's 70th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the first laying of the Stolpersteine, the Art and Museum Library of the City of Cologne dedicated the Stolpersteine ​​project and the artist the exhibition Projekt Stolpersteine ​​- an art monument as a citizens' movement in autumn 2017 . In addition to photographs, awards and publications, part of the extensive collection of press articles, which has been in the possession of the Cologne Art and Museum Library since 2015, was shown in the exhibition.


In August 2019, the Chemnitz rapper Trettmann published the song Stolpersteine.


Web links

Commons : Stumbling Blocks  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Stolperstein  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Steps for laying Stolpersteine ( memento from November 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 2.5 MB) In:, accessed on March 7, 2020.
  2. Anniversary in Memmingen: 75,000. Stumbling block laid. In: December 29, 2019, accessed December 29, 2019 .
  3. a b c d e f g h Nikola Finally: The words should be hard and short . Portrait. Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender also processes his own family history when making the stumbling blocks. In: Friday . No. 4 . Berlin January 23, 2020, p. 26 ( [accessed February 1, 2020]).
  4. Andreas Nefzger: The trace layer. In: . February 7, 2014, accessed December 16, 2014 .
  5. Information on the Stolpersteine brand  in the register of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).
  6. Information on the Union trademark number 011340941 for stumbling blocks in the register of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).
  7. NS Documentation Center of the City of Cologne (ed.): Stolpersteine. Gunter Demnig and his project. Emons, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-89705-546-9 .
  8. a b “Stumbling blocks” for warning reminders ( Memento of October 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), press release by Jehovah's Witnesses, July 19, 1997.
  10. ^ Obermayer German Jewish History Award. Press release on the 2005 award ceremony.
  11. Story on arte: Stumbling with head and heart / Stumbling blocks against oblivion ( Memento from May 12, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). In: .
  12. Pokémon hunters undesirable! ( Memento from September 15, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: wdr online, July 18, 2016, accessed on August 7, 2016.
  13. a b Website of the artist: FAQ. (PDF; 153 kB) In:, accessed on March 7, 2020.
  14. 10 years Marion Dönhoff Prize: Awards go to Karl Schwarzenberg and the Stolpersteine ​​project ( Memento from September 20, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). Notice from Zeitverlag, October 1, 2012.
  15. Erich Kästner Prize 2012 for Gunter Demnig ( memento of October 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). In: Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk . November 25, 2012.
  16. Michael Friedrichs-Friedländer from Berlin: Stolperstein-Maker: "I often push away a few tears". In: Der Tagesspiegel. 7th June 2018.
  17. Thorsten Schmitz: Fully booked. Süddeutsche Zeitung . April 23, 2014, p. 3.
  18. Susanne Gannott: The stumbling block manufacturer: Connected with fates. In: The daily newspaper. September 30, 2011, accessed December 16, 2014 .
  19. Steffi Bey: Emotions on the brass plate. In: New Germany . January 27, 2011, accessed March 7, 2020.
  20. Stefan Palm: Further "stumbling blocks" in Cologne. Remembering forced laborers, Jewish families, Roma and Sinti. (No longer available online.) City of Cologne - Office for Press and Public Relations, March 15, 2013, archived from the original on March 24, 2013 ; Retrieved March 24, 2013 .
  21. Cf. the main source of the residential addresses of the 55,696 Shoah victims in Berlin's Memorial Book of the Jewish Victims of National Socialism: Their names may never be forgotten! Freie Universität Berlin, Hentrich, 1995, p. 1409: "The following is documented in this volume: a Berlin address, if available, the address of the census of 1939 was given and not the address immediately before the deportation."
  22. See the version of the supplementary maps of the census of May 17, 1939 published on the Internet at Tracing the Past. In:, last accessed March 7, 2020.
  23. Rainer Hörmann: Stones of pause. In:, November 21, 2016, accessed on March 13, 2017.
  24. Gunter Demnig relocates Stolpersteine ​​again in Riedstadt. In: Echo-Online - Groß-Gerau district, January 31, 2017, accessed on March 13, 2017.
  25. Start ( Memento from December 23, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In:, accessed on March 13, 2017.
  26. Navàs, first municipality in the Spanish state to commemorate Nazi victims with Stolperstein plaques ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (German: Navàs, the first municipality in Spain to honor Nazi victims with Stolperstein plaques ).
  27. Chronicle of the laying of stumbling stones: June 2019. In: Retrieved June 19, 2019 .
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  43. State Youth Organization of the AWO Berlin: We clean up “stumbling blocks”: International [sic!] Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust ( Memento from January 19, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In:, January 27, 2015.
  44. Angelika Lukesch: 178 stumbling blocks cleaned in the city. On the day of the victims of National Socialism, members of the Junge Union cleaned all 178 stumbling blocks in the city [Regensburg]. In: Mittelbayerische Zeitung . January 28, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
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  47. ^ Ulrich Lottmann: 2014 Duderstadt. Memory refreshed. High school students clear stumbling blocks in Duderstadt. In: Göttinger Tageblatt . March 14, 2014, accessed March 7, 2020.
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  49. Eisenberg students take responsibility for stumbling blocks. In:, May 13, 2015, accessed on March 7, 2020.
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  52. Munich dispute over stumbling blocks - who remembers best? In: The daily newspaper . June 28, 2006, accessed January 9, 2020.
  53. Hanau regrets decision against "stumbling blocks". The Vice-President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Salomon Korn, in conversation with HanauOnline .
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  55. Susanne Lettenbauer: Stumbling block ban divides Munich. In: Deutschlandradio. April 12, 2015, accessed March 7, 2020.
  56. ^ Thyra Veyder-Malberg: Leipzig. Trail of the stumbling blocks. In: Jüdische Allgemeine . September 11, 2014, accessed March 7, 2020.
  57. ^ Claudia Keller: Vandalized memorials in Berlin. Again stumbling blocks smeared. In: Der Tagesspiegel, October 28, 2014, accessed on March 7, 2020.
  58. Sven Felix Kellerhoff: In Munich, stumbling blocks are now growing upwards. In: The world . July 31, 2018, accessed March 7, 2020.
  59. Philipp Gessler: Munich dispute over stumbling blocks: Who remembers best? In: June 28, 2008, accessed December 16, 2014 .
  60. ^ Helmut Reister: Initiative. “Stop kicking the victims.” In: Jüdische Allgemeine. June 2, 2016, accessed March 7, 2020.
  61. ^ Rudolf Stumberger : Nobody is allowed to stumble in Munich. In New Germany . December 1, 2012, accessed March 7, 2020.
  62. Margarete Moulin: Stolpersteine ​​in Munich: The dispute about commemoration. An initiative has memorial stones laid in the Bavarian capital - despite a judicial ban. In: August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016 .
  63. Martin Bernstein: Munich argues about stumbling blocks / scandal at hearing. Southgerman newspaper. December 5, 2014, accessed May 3, 2015.
  64. ^ Felix Müller: Heated debate about stumbling blocks. In: Upper Bavarian Volksblatt. December 6, 2014, accessed March 7, 2020.
  65. Memorial plaques instead of stumbling blocks. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. April 28, 2015, accessed May 3, 2015.
  66. ^ Action for stumbling blocks in Munich: 80,000 sign petition. In: tz . June 9, 2015, accessed March 7, 2020.
  67. No stumbling blocks in memory of Nazi victims. In: . July 29, 2015, accessed on July 29, 2015 (source: dpa).
  68. az: Administrative court dismisses action: Another setback for stumbling block advocates . In: Munich evening newspaper . May 31, 2016 ( [accessed February 1, 2018]).
  69. Stumbling blocks for Krefeld: Chronicle ( Memento from September 5, 2012 in the web archive )
  70. ^ Fabian Böker: Bad Homburg. Stumbling blocks planned for May 2016. In: Frankfurter Rundschau. June 16, 2015, accessed January 13, 2016.
  71. ^ Gerda Saxler-Schmidt: Stumbling blocks rejected - Rheinbach mayor reaps criticism. In: General-Anzeiger . April 24, 2013, accessed March 7, 2020.
  72. Marcus Bierlein: Rheinbacher Stolpersteine ​​- compromise still possible. In: Bonner Rundschau. April 15, 2014, accessed March 7, 2020.
  73. Mario Quadt: Rheinbach gets the first stumbling blocks. In: General-Anzeiger. December 22, 2016, accessed March 7, 2020.
  74. ^ Initiativkreis Stolpersteine ​​for Augsburg and the surrounding area , accessed on March 18, 2015, accessed on March 7, 2020.
  75. ^ Stumbling blocks: Agreement in Augsburg. In Augsburg, opponents and supporters of the Stolpersteine ​​found a compromise after years of controversy. In: Mittelbayerische Zeitung . March 28, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  76. Lothar Häring: Southwest: Tuttlingen has stumbling blocks laid. Badische Zeitung, May 24, 2016, accessed on May 24, 2016 .
  77. Anneliese Edlinger: Memorial plaques instead of stumbling blocks for Nazi victims in Linz. OÖNachrichten , January 11, 2019, accessed on January 15, 2019 .
  78. Elke Hoesmann: Commemoration with Nazi jargon. In: Weserkurier . November 9, 2014.
  79. Petra Schellen: Remembering Nazi Victims: Stumbling Over Language. In: October 20, 2014, accessed January 15, 2015 .
  80. ^ Philipp Woldin Serious accusation. In: The time. No. 47/2014, November 30, 2014.
  81. ^ Katrin Bischoff: Stumbling blocks. Holocaust denier defends himself against memorial for murdered Jews. In: Berliner Zeitung . November 28, 2008, accessed March 7, 2020.
  82. StadtRevue Cologne 03/2004: Offensive stones ( Memento from May 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). In: .
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  84. Roman Deininger: Memory of National Socialism - Great victory for mini monuments. In: September 15, 2011, accessed December 16, 2014 .
  85. Dessa : Stones-of-Pride. Homage to the N. Israel department store, Berlin. With an essay by Holt Meyer. Hentrich and Hentrich, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-95565-112-1 (German / English; book accompanying the exhibition: DESSA - Nathan Israel Department Store 1815–1939 - An artist explores history. Mitte Museum, Berlin, October 4, 2015 to March 31, 2016).
  86. Stumbling blocks laid for the Thälmann family - Justice Minister Maas rejects Gedeon's criticism.
  87. Stumbling blocks no art. In: Rhein-Sieg-Rundschau. February 24, 2011, p. 46.
  88. monitor from June 16, 2011: No art: “Stumbling blocks” are just “signs” for the tax office ( Memento from January 27, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 65 kB).
  89. Website of the artist: Aktuell.
  90. Attack on Memory. In: Retrieved December 16, 2014 .
  91. Anton Maegerle: Brachial against »guilt cult«. In: Jüdische Allgemeine . January 24, 2013, accessed June 15, 2015 .
  92. Till Eckert: Stumbling blocks are torn out again and again - that shows how important they are. In:, November 8, 2017, accessed on November 10, 2017.
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  95. ^ Criticism of commemorative routine. In: Nordbayerischer Kurier . November 10, 2017, p. 2.
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  110. press release
  111. Translation here
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