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Jewish World

Insignificantly Small, Enormously Powerful

Holocaust figures are overwhelming, and the faces of the victims can get lost. Stolpersteine, or “stumbling blocks,” offer a far more intimate tribute


The Nazi Holocaust was one of the greatest human tragedies in all of history. As such, when victims and sympathizers commemorate the Holocaust, it is usually with massive and conspicuous memorials. And these memorials certainly succeed in keeping alive the memory of a catastrophe that must never be forgotten, lest it be repeated.

When one enters a large Holocaust memorial such as those in Berlin, Jerusalem and Washington, DC, the visitor is presented gut-wrenching statistics. But, it is often too easy for the faces of the victims to become lost in the staggering numbers. Each of those numbers was a life, which traditional Judaism would define as an entire “world.”

The stolperstein (stumbling block) movement aims to bring Holocaust commemoration back to a much more personal level by introducing random passers-by to individual victims on their former “home turf.”

Started by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, the idea behind the stolperstein movement is to embed a small, but noticeable memorial block into the sidewalk in front of every residence (or place of work) from which a Jew or...


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