Stumbling Across the Past

Stolperstein, Strada Nova, Venice
Embedded into the Strada Nova, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Venice, are several small cobblestones, each bearing brass plaques. The stones are easily overlooked and I don't imagine many people even notice them, let alone bend down to read what is written on the plaques. 

The cobblestones are known as stolpersteine, a German word meaning stumbling-blocks (in Italian, pietre d'inciampo) and they commemorate the victims of Nazi oppression, those who survived as well as those who died. The stones are the invention of Gunther Demnig, a German artist, and are embedded into the pavements of streets throughout Europe. 

While the vast majority of the stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, some remember non-Jewish victims.

The plaques record the details of an individual: the name, year of birth and the fate, as well as the dates of deportation and death, if known. The stone is then embedded into the pavement outside the last residence of the victim. 
Stolperstein to Adolfo Ottolenghi, Strada Nova, Venice
A stolperstein can be found outside the erstwhile residence of Adolfo Ottolenghi, who was the city's Chief Rabbi at the time of his deportation.


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