While strolling though the city you might notice little brass-coloured cobblestones in the pavement in front of house entrances. Take a minute and read their inscriptions!
They commemorate Jewish citizens as well as Sinti, Roma and other persecuted individuals of the Nazi oppression who once lived in the respective buildings and who have been deported to one of the Nazis’ extermination camps during World War II. The place indicated by the cobblestone was their last address of choice before their deportation and murder.
In 1995, Cologne-based artist Gunter Demnig started his art project with his first unauthorized installation of Stolpersteine in our city. Since then, the project has developed to be the world’s largest (decentralized) memorial with more than 50.000 stumbling stones in 18 European countries.
There has been (and in other cities still is) a controversial debate about the Stolpersteine. Some people think that this form of commemoration is disgraceful for the victims as people walk over the cobblestones. The proponents of Gunter Demnig’s art campaign argue that the victims get back their visibility in the midst of the city. In my case, I associate myself with the supporters and I very much appreciate the idea that the memory of the murdered stays present and alive in our urban space.
For more mementos of Cologne citizens murdered or persecuted during the Nazi regime, please also read the articles on Edelweißpiraten and EL-DE Haus by Cologne Spotter Marcel.