The stumbling stones are brass plates affixed to cobblestones, bearing the names and dates of birth, deportation, places and dates of death of the victims of Nazi Germany. They are installed in the pavement/side-walk in front of the ‘last residence of choice’ of the person being commemorated. Created and personally laid by Gunter Demnig, a German artist from Berlin, who began the project in 1996 with the aim of rooting the widespread historical memory of the citizens massacred in the Nazi lagers, in the urban and social fabric of the European cities. Today we can count over 56.000 of these stones, located in various cities in 22 European countries, the 50,000th was posed in Turin in recent years and set at the entrances of the last homes of the victims. They symbolically and physically represent the resilience of our memory that overcomes the denial of the horrors of the Shoah perpetrated in dictatorial regimes against people of different cultures, life habits, political beliefs and religions. Given that for Judaism “Forgetting the people's name is to let them die” (Paolo De Benedetti), the names of the victims engraved on the resistant material of these minimalist "monuments" - deliberately placed to create mental and visual "stumbles" inducing passers-by to read and know through the information engraved on them - wishing to give back their identity and dignity to the people that history intended to reduce to bare numbers.
The shining brass plates set in the dullness of the concrete are indeed small pieces of art with powerful emotional strength, able to combine the current daily life of the city with "the one" of their history. Scattered in public places of daily passage, they metaphorically make the passers-by "stumble" over the local Shoah and beyond, affecting their indifference and restraining any new barbarity. Since the positioning of the stones is not accidental but coincides with the homes where each victim lived, loved, worked, suffered, where he or she were known to the neighbours, schoolmates, friends and colleagues, and from where they were taken away, all of these stones “scream” for recognition, the memory of time, of life, and the individuality of each victim.
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