Saturday, December 1, 2007

About Art - Stolpersteine

Stolpersteine (German expression for "stumbling blocks", obstacles, something in the way) is a project of the artist Gunter Demnig. These memorials are meant to be visual reminders of the people deported and then killed by the Nazis mostly in Nazi concentration camps or extermination camps.

Those persecuted by the Nazis were Jews, Sinti and Romani people (also called gipsies), members of the resistance during World War II, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, christians in opposition and disabled people.

Schools, relatives, and various organizations investigate facts about people, who were deported or persecuted during the regime of Nazi Germany. The databank of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem provides more information.

Once research has been done, Demnig manufactures a concrete cube of 10 cm/ 4 in, which he covers with a sheet of brass. Then he adds the writing “Hier wohnte” (Here lived), the name, year of birth and the fate: mostly the date of deportation and of death. They are then put down flush in the pavement/sidewalk in front of the last residence of the victim.

After Demnig had the idea in 1993, the first exhibition took place in 1994 in Cologne. The then priest of the Antoniter church encouraged the project. In 1995 Demnig began to install Stolpersteine on trial without approval in Cologne, then in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In 1996 he set out 55 Stolpersteine in Berlin within the scope of the project “artists investigate after Auschwitz”. 1997 he put down the first two Stolpersteine for Jehovah's Witnesses in St. Georgen near Salzburg, Austria on the suggestion of the cultural initiative KNIE and Austrian Service Abroad. Four years later, he received permission to put up 600 more Stolpersteine in Cologne.The financial requirements are covered by donations, collections, individual citizens, contemporary witnesses, school classes, or communities. One Stolperstein costs €95.

As of April 2007, Gunter Demnig had put down more than 11,000 Stolpersteine in more than 220 cities. He expanded his project beyond the borders of Germany to Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Hungary. Some Gedenksteine were scheduled to be put down in Poland on September 1, 2006, but this did not take place because permission was withdrawn.Find out more about this outdoor art at


Anonymous said...

Per their own WatchTower Society literature, once in the concentration camps, many of the Jehovah's Witnesses eventually collaborated with Nazi Camp Management to improve their own lot.

As a JW child, I vividly remember multiple occasions when JW Elders boasted how JW concentration camp prisoners acted as housekeepers, barbers, and in other positions of trust and responsibility for the Nazi Concentration Camp Management.

Why does noone notice that only about 10-15% of the JWs who were eventually imprisoned actually died in the camps? Because, of the JWs who actually died in the camps, most were those JWs in the 1930s who bucked the system and were killed. By the 1940s, many JWs had learned to collaborate. Those JWs who died in the 1940s were mainly those in camps where death was unavoidable.

Additionally, the WatchTower Society teaches its own brand of "replacement theology", in which Jehovah's Witnesses believe and teach that YHWH rejected the Jews as His chosen people, and replaced them with Jehovah's Witnesses. As YHWH's current "chosen people", JWs HATE the Jews and all other peoples who they see as being followers of Satan.

Thus, the obvious question. Why is it mandatory that every article about the Holocaust contain the obligatory mentioning of the JWs in the same positive fashion as the other victims who could or would not collaborate with their captors?

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say "thanks" for the insightful comment. I enjoy the fact that there are those who can take a simple posting and turn it into a "real" history lesson.

But let's not forget that even some Jews collabrated with the Nazis during what must have been one of the darkest periods in mankind's existence.

I wonder what I would have done if I had found myself in the same situation. Your comment makes me recall the movie "Playing for Time". What would any of us have done if it meant delaying the inevitable?

The Editor.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous - great stuff about the JWs . .. but, why stop there - get on your roll and tell us all about YOUR bravery as a "JW Child" . . .how about some great "insight" about gypsys, blacks, homosexuals - obviously, being a "JW Child" makes you an expert! Humm . . wonder why the Nazis would pick a JW, put a razor in their hands and make them a barber? Also, expert, tell me if it's true/untrue that ONLY the JWs could get released by simply signing a "pledge of allegiance" to the Nazis???