Stolpersteine App – Map, Biographies, Backgrounds, and Teaching Concepts

The app displays Stolpersteine in North Rhine-Westphalia on a map, provides short biographies, and offers guidance for using the app in educational contexts.

About the App

Stolpersteine are considered the largest decentralized memorial in the world. The app provides biographical background information about the individuals whose names are engraved on Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks). The starting point for the ‘Stolpersteine NRW’ app is Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine project (see below). The app brings the Stolpersteine laid in North Rhine-Westphalia into the digital space. The mobile app, as well as the browser application, list the Stolpersteine on a map and provide short biographies, illustrated graphic stories, historical photos, audio plays, and augmented reality elements. The app includes a search and navigation function that allows users to participate in curated routes.

About the Stolpersteine

Stolpersteine are memorial stones that commemorate people who were persecuted, deported, and killed during the time of National Socialism. These memorial stones are embedded in the sidewalks at the last self-chosen residences of the victims. Each individual stone features a specially crafted brass plate containing information about the name, age, and fate of the respective victim. Two decades ago, the sculptor Gunter Demnig initiated this project, which has now been realized throughout Europe and encourages people to remember the past.

Project Background

Basic key data, biographical texts, and historical photos are some of the information that has been researched and processed as part of the ‘Stolpersteine NRW’ project for around 16,000 victim biographies. They are stored in one central location: the project’s database, and are accessed through the app and website.

The fundamental data is based on the analog Stolperstein files of the artist Gunter Demnig, which can be up to 30 years old. He and his wife, Katja, have supported the WDR project from the beginning. These data were digitized and transferred to the WDR database. To cross-reference information and fill in gaps, supplementary information available on Wikipedia was used, provided it could be verified through original sources such as the Yad Vashem memorial. In particular, Stolperstein photos available on Wikipedia under Creative Commons license are a crucial component of the basic information available in the project. This allowed for at least the essential biographical information to be provided for almost every one of the approximately 16,000 data records.

Our Recommendation

As part of the project, five modules for using the app in education have been developed. They cover the areas of station-based learning, excursions, media reflection, sources, and remembrance. This provides educators with guidance for working with Stolpersteine.

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