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Abstract

A German artist, Gunter Demnig, has since 1996 inserted more than 60,000 stolpersteine (tripping stones) on public pavements, squares and sidewalks, commemorating the location where persons had lived prior to their deportation to concentration camps, and thus, to their death. These stolpersteine are brass squares (10x10 cm), mounted flush on cobble stones and stating "Here lived", followed by the victim's name, year of birth, date of deportation, place and year of death. The deported were mostly Jews, but also Roma, Sintis, homosexuals, disabled, dissidents and other persecuted persons during the Nazi era (1933-1945). By now, stolpersteine have been placed in more than 1600 towns in twenty European countries. The expenses of $130 per stolperstein are borne by donations from family, friends and anonymous donors. This decentralized project is not without controversy and has not been permitted in a few cities, for example in Munich with the city's governing board arguing that it is inappropriate to walk across these plaques; possible political reasons are not transparent. Where forbidden, stolpersteine are occasionally placed on private grounds as close as possible to public sidewalks. While memorials to fallen soldiers and victims of persecution are often anonymous, stolpersteine give those who were murdered for political reasons a place to remember them, following a motto of this movement "The secret of remembrance is the proximity".

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