Before WWII, Hamburg had one of the largest Jewish communities in Germany and a significant Roma population. Under the Nazi regime, many members of these communities, as well as homosexuals, disabled people and political dissidents, were prosecuted, deported and murdered. Jewish life in Hamburg was erased almost entirely. Today, the many commemorative cobblestones called Stolpersteine are reminders throughout the city of the many victims of Nazi oppression.
Artist Günther Demnig founded the Stolpersteine art project in 1995 to commemorate the victims of fascism by placing commemorative cobblestones in front of their former homes. The German verb stolpern means ‘to stumble’ —indicating that passersby are meant both stumble over and stumble upon these small yet powerful memorials.
The square cobblestones are made of concrete,and their top side is covered in brass. Every stone is engraved individually and placed in front of a building to inform passesrby of the name, date of birth and date of death of individual victims who once lived there.
The Stolpersteine are only about 10 cubic centimetres, but togetherr they form a large part of a Europe-wide commemoration project. In total, there are about 56,000 such stones laid out all over the world. Every month, around 400 new stones are added to the project. In Hamburg alone, you can find 5,000. In front of City Hall, 20 stones are dedicated to the murdered members of the Hamburg Parliament legislative assembly. On the Grindelhof street, 18 cobblestones commemorate the teachers of a Jewish school.
Today, the Stolpersteine are part of a broader research project about the lives of minorities under the Nazi regime. If you want to find out more, the Infoladen der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung information point should be your first destination. It can be reached easily via the U1 underground, exit Stephansplatz or bus lines M4, M5, 34, 36, 109, 112, exit Stephansplatz.
Dammtorstraße 14, 20354 Hamburg
+49 40 428234808
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Fri 12:30 p.m. ─ 4:30 p.m.