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FAQ on the Stolpersteine project

Who is eligible for a Stolperstein?

Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) can be laid for anyone who was persecuted by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945: Jewish women and men, Sinti women and men, Roma women and men, members of politically or religiously motivated resistance groups, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, victims of ‘euthanasia’ murder and those who were categorized as ‘asocial’. Stolpersteine always aim to remember families. We therefore recommend that stumbling stones are laid for all members of a family who were persecuted rather than for selected individuals.

Where are the stones installed?

As a rule, Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) are installed in front of the last freely chosen place of residence of the person to be commemorated. Most persecutees were subjected to repressive measures years before their deportation or arrest, prevented from pursuing their occupations and deprived of their means of income and place in society. For this reason, it is important to carefully check whether the person’s last place of residence was freely chosen or in fact the outcome of compulsory measures.

In exceptional cases, Stolpersteine can be laid in alternative places of special relevance to the person to be commemorated.

What is required to initiate a Stolperstein?

Stolpersteine are laid for people who were persecuted by the Nazis, including those who managed to survive Nazi persecution. To initiate the laying of a Stolperstein, you need to submit the full name (including birth name in the case of married women), birth date and stations of persecution of the person in question. If possible, give the places and dates of their arrest/deportation/flight, and their date and place of death. It is essential to state the address of their last voluntary place of residence because this is where the stumbling stone will be laid. Stolpersteine are not laid at sites of persecution such as prisons, assembly camps or compulsory ‘homes for Jews’. Before you apply to initiate a Stolperstein, please check on the website www.stolpersteine-berlin.de and Wikipedia that a Stolperstein has not already been laid in Berlin or elsewhere for the person in question.

What can be inscribed on a Stolperstein?

The inscription on a Stolperstein tells the reader whom it commemorates and the basic timeline of their persecution under Nazism. The amount of space on a Stolperstein is limited, and to guarantee its identifiability as part of the Stolperstein project, little latitude can be given to individual inscription wishes. The inscriptions are composed in cooperation with local Stolperstein initiatives under the supervision of Gunter Demnig, the project’s initiator, and his team.

How long does the entire process take, from applying for a Stolperstein to its installation?

The artist Gunter Demnig travels to Berlin to install stumbling stones three or four times a year. Since this requires a certain amount of advance planning, it generally takes several months for a Stolperstein to be installed. Please note that each application is processed independently by the local Stolperstein initiative in the relevant district, so waiting periods can vary considerably. In the districts that receive the most applications, they can last several years. Applicants to the districts Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, and Mitte should expect to wait up to four years.

Please contact the relevant local initiative for up-to-date information on waiting periods.

How can the Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office help?

The Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office can help with all questions concerning the Stolperstein project in general. Stone-laying events are organized independently by the local initiatives. The Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office can help relatives find the Stolperstein initiative relevant to their search if there is any uncertainty, such as regarding the persecutee’s last voluntary place of residence. However, as biographical research is key to the Stolperstein project’s commemorative and memorial work, it should be conducted by the applicants themselves. The Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office is glad to provide initial pointers for and practical help with research but cannot assume the entire task and does not have an own archive. Some of the nonprofit Stolperstein initiatives help applicants conduct the required research.

The Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office organizes regular workshops on how to conduct online research, and write biographies, as well as information events to support the voluntary staff assisting with research.

The Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office has no influence over the duration of the application procedure as applications are processed independently by the local Stolperstein initiatives.

Why can’t I find a certain Stolperstein yet on the website?

Although the website is run by the Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office, the local Stolperstein initiatives are responsible for adding their own entries to the database. Sometimes it can take a while for a newly installed Stolperstein to appear on the website if, for instance, the corresponding biography has not yet been completed.

How can I find out if a certain Stolperstein is being cared for by a cleaning sponsor?

Cleaning sponsorships are approached quite unbureaucratically; not everyone who cleans Stolpersteine in their area tells us. However, it is possible to register as a cleaning sponsor for specific stumbling stones on the internal section of our website: www.stolpersteine-berlin.de. Advice on how to clean stumbling stones can be found in a guide posted by the Bremen Stolperstein initiative.

To clean a Stolperstein, you can use any commercial metal detergent. How often cleaning is required varies from stone to stone, as each one is exposed to different environmental factors, according to location. We kindly ask you to report any vandalism or damage, including missing Stolpersteine, to the Stolpersteine Coordination Office.