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Stolpersteins of the City of Kolín

What are Stolpersteins?

Stolpersteins are stones commemorating the Holocaust victims. These are usually bestowed in front of houses in which a particular person lived and was deported to a concentration camp and murdered afterwards. The sense of the Stolpersteins project is to honor and commemorate the victims of the Nazi genocide during the Second World War. The Jews, the Romani, homosexuals, people of resistance, the physically disabled, and Jehovah’s Witnesses that were murdered during the Holocaust are thus given a lasting memory as the stones depict their fates individually.

The term “stolperstein” has been coined from two German words; stolpern (to stumble) and stein (a stone). The term expresses the significant strength of many stories that the Stolpersteins conceal. We cannot pass them while walking on the street as we are obliged to stop and bow to a victim rendered in a stone.

Each Stolperstein is a 10 x 10 x 10 cm concrete block with a brass plate carrying an inscription on one side. The stones are inserted into pavement in front of houses which were the last residence of those killed by the Nazis. The stones have thus become a lasting memory of crime that was committed by the Nazis and their helpers. Based on new methods in teaching the war genocide, the Stolpersteins represent a man’s fate – a fate of a fellow citizen who lived his or her life in the very places that we inhabit nowadays, and who was murdered without a cause. The Stolpersteins thus offer extensive possibility to identify oneself with the victims of the Nazi persecution, they warn against all forms of danger, intolerance, and xenophobia. Through the emplacing the stones within the public space, the towns or cities express their attitudes towards the mass murders, racism, and other forms of xenophobia.

The students of the Vocational School of Construction Kolín came up with the idea of the Stolpersteins when they visited a partner school in Oranienburg, Germany, in 2007. The students of this school focus on the Holocaust issue to great extent. The first stones were emplaced by the German artist Günter Demnig in 2008. In the following years, other stones have been added. Today, there are as many as 65 stones in Kolín. The realization of the project has been supported by the Vocational School of Construction, Kolín II, Pražská 112, with the assistance of the City of Kolín. The project is furthermore encouraged by the Regional Authority of the Central Bohemia. The Stolpersteins laying has been furthermore enabled thanks to the financial support of the City of Kolín, the German-Czech Fund of Future (Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds), the Vocational School of Construction, Kolín II, Pražská 112, and the sponsorship of the Kolín citizens and various businessmen.

The original intention of laying of the stones around Kolín was subsequently turned into an educational trail in behalf of the London Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue which provided financing of other 54 Stolpersteins. The Stolpersteins educational trail of Kolín symbolizes the tribute of the Kolín Jews and has thus been added among other notable sights of the city.

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