They are hardly noticeable, the „stumbling blocks“ in Kiel. But most of these (so far) 225 laid stones represent a murdered person. Taken in the sidewalk in front of the houses, in which they lived, remind them of the people, who were murdered by the Nazis or committed suicide. Hardly anyone can imagine today, this means: 6 million murdered people. But these stones bring each one back. Only a few stones document the survival of some persecuted. Stumbling stones in front of the house Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 72 in Kiel. Typical here is that children are placed between the parents – just as they did in life.

The stumbling blocks are part of a Europe-wide project by the Cologne artist Gunter Demnig and are considered the largest decentralized memorial in the world. Since 1995, he has placed more than 60,000 of these stones in many countries – none of them are currently in Bulgaria, Serbia and Munich. The city council of Munich rejects the project and excavated already laid stones. Nevertheless, there are 30 stumbling blocks on private land.

Each of the memorial stones embedded in footpaths is dedicated to a man who was killed by National Socialist violence and is thus intended to commemorate the extermination of the Jews, Sinti and Roma, the political persecutees, homosexuals, Jehovah‘s Witnesses, the so-called euthanasia and sickness killers fell to the victims and the men who refused the „oath of allegiance“ to Hitler and were executed for it or people who were hanged because of „racial defilement“ on a lamppost.

To express appreciation, each stone is made by hand and – with a few exceptions – laid by the artist himself. The sculptor Michael Friedrichs-Friedländer strikes every letter by hand into the brass. The costs are borne by donations or sponsorships. Despite the depth of the symbols he created and his appreciation, Demnig is not undisputed. Charlotte Knobloch, formerly president of the Central Council of German Jews and survivors of the Holocaust, calls the advocates of the stumbling blocks a „commemorative“ – a statement with which, however, she is also controversial with Jews. Demnig has also received death threats, and time and again his stones are smeared or destroyed by people who have been turned to the right.

On the other hand, many citizens are „involved“ – such as the youthful Muslims who took part in one of the many regular cleaning actions in 2012 (Messing runs dark over time: a quarter liter of water, just as much vinegar essence with two tablespoons of salt – well stirred – a proven polish.

Text und Foto: Robert Kühl