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The ‘Stumbling Stones’ of Holocaust Victims

With hundreds of things to see in Berlin, few tourists pay attention to what lies under their feet. The four inch by four inch blocks of brass embedded in the pavement are easy to miss. But once you know they exist, you begin to come across them with surprising frequency.

Each stone is engraved with the name and fate of an individual who has suffered under the Nazi regime. They are known as Stolpersteine, or “stumbling stones.” There are over eight thousand of them in the German capital, and tens of thousands of them are spread across European countries, making it the largest decentralized monument in the world.

The idea was first conceived by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992 to commemorate individual victims of the Holocaust. Each block, which begins with “Here lived,” is placed at exactly the last place where the person lived freely before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror and was deported to an extermination camp. Unlike other holocaust memorials that focus only on Jews, the Stolpersteine honor all victims of the Nazi regime, including Jews, the disabled, the dissident, and the gays.

Although not everyone supports the drive, Michael Friedrichs-Friedländer, the craftsman who makes each Stolperstein, spoke in support of the project. “I can’t think of a better form of remembrance,” he says. “If you want to read the stone, you must bow before the victim.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In his lowly life and death, the person of Jesus Christ can also be a stumbling stone, or the stone that was rejected by men that is precious to God.

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