26/10 2020

“Stolpersteine” – a German word meaning “stumbling-stones” – are brass plates the size of a street cobble (10 x 10 cm) which bear the names of Holocaust victims, plus the dates of their birth and their death in the Nazi concentration camps. More of these memorial cobbles were installed in Ostrava’s streets in early October.


Laying two of the new cobbles. Photograph: Lukáš Kaboň

The brass cobbles commemorate the lives of people who lived at the locations where they are installed. The nine new cobbles were set into the pavements outside four buildings in Ostrava – 28. října 105, Tyršova 1683, Myslbekova 528 and Nádražní 173.

The London suburb of Kingston upon Thames is home to the “Ostravaci” association. Its members are the descendants of Jewish families who formerly lived in Ostrava but had to leave the city in order to escape persecution at the hands of the Nazis, and the association exists to honour the memory of their ancestors. Ostravaci first approached the City of Ostrava in 2010 with a request to install several Stolpersteine in the streets.

Stolpersteine are brass plates the size of a cobble which are installed in the pavement outside a building where Holocaust victims lived before the Second World War. The production and installation of the memorial cobbles was paid for by the Ostravaci association. The purpose of the Stolpersteine is to honour the memory of former inhabitants so that they are not forgotten by history. Additionally, to read the text on the plates you have to bend down, thus symbolically bowing in honour of the victims’ memory. These memorials have been laid at hundreds of sites in Germany and Austria, and in the Czech Republic they also exist (besides Ostrava) in Prague and Kolín.

The originator of the idea – and the designer of the Stolpersteine – is Mr Günther Demnig from the German city of Halle. The Stolpersteine are paid for by the descendants of the victims. The first Stolpersteine in Ostrava were laid in 2010, followed by a further set in 2015. Nine of the brass plates have been installed so far this year, taking their total number in Ostrava to 60.