In May 1996, the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) organised an exhibition called “Künstler forschen nach Auschwitz“. Within its framework, Gunter Demnig laid 50 Stolpersteine in Berlin – in Oranienstrasse and Dresdner Strasse – without permission from the local authorities. Steven Robins was struck by Demnig’s chosen form of commemoration when he first saw Stolpersteine in the district of Kreuzberg as he was on the tracks of his relatives during a visit to Berlin. He launched efforts to persuade the district council of Kreuzberg and the KreuzbergMuseum to lay more Stolpersteine at Naunynstrasse 46, which bore fruit in July 2000. Gunter Demnig has since laid over 5000 Stolpersteine in Berlin, and there are currently more than 38,000 Stolpersteine in 12 European states and in over 800 cities and municipalities of Germany.
There are now initiatives in every Berlin district that organise the local laying of Stolpersteine, largely on a voluntary basis. They are sometimes affiliated to district museums or local churches, or might have evolved from a community of interests in a particular neighbourhood.
It soon became clear that an institutional framework was necessary since there was so much interest in laying Stolpersteine in Berlin. In 2005, the district museums of Berlin Mitte and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg created the Coordination Office Stolpersteine Berlin, which has been affiliated to the Active Museum of Fascism and Resistance in Berlin since 2012.
The office functions as a liaison between the artist and his team, the district initiatives, the sponsors of Stolpersteine and the relatives of victims. It also serves as a central point of contact for anyone applying to have Stolpersteine placed in Berlin or with general enquiries.
The Stolpersteine project in Berlin is organised by twelve district initiatives, which are supported by numerous local groups. They conduct research into the biographical backgrounds of victims, seek and contact descendants and relatives, make suggestions for inscriptions and are sometimes present when Stolperstein are laid. They are also responsible for public relations, funding and maintenance matters. The initiatives often organise ceremonies when or after a Stolperstein is laid to impart more information about a victim's life and fate. The Coordination Office Stolpersteine Berlin holds regular meetings with the initiatives to discuss organisation matters and other relevant issues. Contact