The name Stolperstein in German (Struikelsteen in Dutch) translates into English literally as “stumbling stone”. A stumbling stone is placed in the pavement in front of the address from where Jewish citizens were deported by the Nazis, in the case of Assen first to the transit camp in Westerbork and subsequently to the extermination camps in Poland.
The pedestrian stumbles upon a brass plaque in the pavement and is invited to bow his head and read the name that is inscribed there. According to the Talmud, a person is only forgotten when his name is forgotten, so each stone represents a person with a name. At the beginning of World War II, more than 400 Jews lived in Assen.
Stones are also placed for members of the Dutch resistance who gave their lives for their fellow men. In Assen it regards to 40 people.
Each plaque is made of brass and states that “Here lived ……. ; born …. ; deported …. from Westerbork; murdered …. Auschwitz”.
Every stone is financed by private funding and the organisation is driven completely by volunteers.
By 2020 all stones will have been placed during ceremonies, where family members of the victims have been present as much as possible.
The Stolpersteine project has been initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig and has been picked up by numerous local followers in a wide range of European countries.
For more English information about the Stolpersteine organisation in Germany, please see www.stolpersteine.eu