You first notice them almost by accident, as the sun catches the pavement and something glitters underfoot. Yet once you’ve spotted your first Stolperstein (stolpersteine.de) – the name means, literally “stumbling block”, you’ll keep stumbling over more. The little brass plaques, memorials to individual victims of the Nazis, usually stand in front of the house from which that victim was taken, and are the work of Gunter Demnig, a Berlin-born but Cologne-based artist. Since 1996 he’s laid 30,000 Stolpersteine in Germany and others in Poland, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands among other places. They are particularly thick on the ground in the Zülpicher Viertel and Belgisches Viertel, close to the Roonstrasse synagogue; you’ll sometimes stumble across a dozen or more in front of a single house. Incredibly moving, they’re the antithesis of the big, official monuments to the Holocaust: they record the name, birth-date and fate – as far as it is known – of an individual. Chillingly, in many cases, the story is the same: deported and verschollen – missing, presumed dead. The placement of the stones outside the homes of the victims means the fate of entire families is often recorded. While many of the individuals remembered by the stones are Jewish, there are also Stolpersteine for political opponents of the regime, for the murdered Sinti and Roma, and for the Nazis’ gay victims.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
A beginner's guide to the best German beers

A beginner's guide to the best German beers

Think Germany and you think beer. It’s a country whose beer culture is so ingrained and recognised that Oktoberfest (16 September–3 October 2017) is celeb…

14 Sep 2017 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

Syria has been shattered by conflict since March 2011; more than 5 million people have been forced to flee the country and rebuild their lives elsewhere. Jessi…

05 Sep 2017 • Jessica Bateman local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right