German Artist Lays Down 75,000th ‘Stumbling Stone’ in Memory of Holocaust Victims


Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot

Children polishing Stolpersteine in Berlin.

Gunter Demnig, a German artist best known for his Stolperstein (stumbling stone) memorials to the victims of Nazi persecution, on Sunday installed his 75,000th Stolperstein in Memmingen, Bavaria, in memory of Benno and Martha Rosenbaum, who were persecuted under the Nazi regime, the Stolperstein Society announced. It is the 115th stone installed in Memmingen, Deutsche Welle reported.


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The Rosenbaums fled Nazi persecution to Uruguay from Memmingen in 1941. Benno died in 1944, distraught at having left his home town and depressed by the seeming endless reign of Nazism.

In 1938, Memmingen’s synagogue and Jewish homes were looted and destroyed, and in the spring of 1942 the Jewish community was liquidated. In 1947, some 125 Jews lived in Memmingen, but they later emigrated. By 1968, only two Jews remained in the city.

Demnig, 73, began his project in 1992, laying down the Stolpersteine, whose name is a play on words, meaning both “stumbling stone” and, metaphorically, “stumbling block” – meaning one must pause from one’s hurried walk on the streets of this or that German city and contemplate the terrifying past represented by the stones. Each “stone” is a 3.9 in × 3.9 in concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. The words “Here lived…” begin the text on almost every stone.

The majority of Stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Others memorialize Sinti and Romani people (a.k.a. gypsies), homosexuals, the physically or mentally disabled, J Witnesses, black people, members of the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, the anti-Nazi Resistance, the Christian opposition (both Protestants and Catholics), and Freemasons, along with International Brigade soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, military deserters, conscientious objectors, Germans who helped Jews escape, executed “habitual criminals,” individuals charged with treason, military disobedience, or undermining the Nazi military, and Allied soldiers.

The first stone outside Europe was laid in 2017, in Argentina.

The name of the Stolpersteine project invokes an anti-Semitic saying, when one accidentally stumbles over a protruding stone: “A Jew must be buried here.”

Bavaria’s government representative for anti-Semitism (sic in the Deutsche Welle report) Ludwig Spaenle told the attending crowd in Memmingen that “memories create the future. It doesn’t matter what form of memorialization you think is best — by commemorating names and the biographical information then we remain aware of the victims.”


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