It pays, while walking around Berlin, to look at the ground. For one, you’ll avoid the tons of dog crap. But more significantly, you’ll see the stolpersteine, or stumbling blocks, memorials to victims of the Holocaust created by artist Gunter Deming. They’re often placed in the last known residence of the individual and record their dates and locations of birth and death, if known.
There are more than 32,000 of the stolpersteine throughout Europe, and while I find them to be evocative, effective memorials, they’re not without their critics. Some cities don’t allow them, Munich for one, and detractors think that the bare, vital details reduce these individuals to simple statistics.
However, I watched for these little blocks wherever I went throughout Berlin, and they impressed upon me, in a physical and present way, how pervasive Nazi terror was. It occurred everywhere, on any street.
Including here in Rome: