The recent Memorial of Holocaust Remembrance and the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity, marked every January 27th, encouraged us to write about the snublesteiners placed all over the city of Oslo.
Often ignored, overlooked and stepped over without acknowledging, snublesteiners remind us of a generations lost, times blurred and lives forgotten.
Small memorial blocks (norw. snublesteiner; germ. stolpersteine) made of brass cement (10x10 cm) are part of an ongoing art project started by a German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992.
By placing these memorial blocks with engraved name, date of birth and execution or persecution of the victim, Demnig wanted to commemorate last living or working residency of Jewish individuals.
To date nearly 100,000 snublesteiner have been placed in 30 countries all over Europe, making it the world’s largest decentralized memorial.
Although this kind of commemoration of the Nazi victims sometimes creates criticism, as we are intentionally walking over deceased Jews, the real truth lays in the past actions that we hope will never happen again.
When Jewish cemeteries were destroyed by Nazi Germany, the gravestones were often reused as sidewalk paving stones. In this way the memory of the dead was intentionally defiled as people were walking over gravestones and tread on the inscriptions.
The Snublesteiner provocative this act of sacrilege, however their own appearance that makes us stumble over, creates instant memory for those that used to live where now stumble stones are.
Over 400 hundred snublesteiners are located in Oslo, most of them in Grünerløkka where Jewish families used to live. If you find yourself in Oslo, we invite you on our Street food tour that passes this neighborhood so we remember the million lives lost and together agree that this shameful chapter of human history should never ever be repeated.
More info on snublesteiners in Norway, you can find here: https://www.snublestein.no/