Cologne (dpa / lnw) – Around 15,000 fates embedded in the ground: A new app from West German Broadcasting (WDR) prepares the stories behind the so-called stumbling blocks in North Rhine-Westphalia. With the smartphone, people’s paths of life and suffering should be experienced, which are commemorated on many streets with the brass plaques. The app for Apple devices was already available on Friday, and it should follow soon for Android. In addition, the website stolpersteine.wdr.de goes online, which can also be used to research the stones.
The stumbling blocks are a project by the artist Gunter Demnig. Each stone commemorated a person who was persecuted, murdered or driven to suicide by the Nazi dictatorship. For this purpose, small brass plaques are embedded in the ground. They can be found, for example, in front of classic residential buildings or shops owned by Jews or homosexuals. According to the broadcaster, the WDR project is intended to make all of the around 15,000 stumbling blocks in NRW that are now available to be found. It also caters heavily to a younger audience.
With the app, you can find out the story behind every stone in front of you. Biographical texts are shown, as well as radio plays and historical photos. Illustrators from the Kunsthochschule Kassel also wrote 200 drawn short stories dealing with the stories of the victims of National Socialism. In some places, digital content on the screen also merges with the real environment – the technology is called augmented reality. Users can, for example, light virtual candles on the stones to commemorate them.
It is touching when you learn more than just the name and key data on a stumbling block, but really get to know the person, said WDR director Tom Buhrow. “It’s a whole different intensity,” he said. He himself took a closer look under another stumbling block in his hometown of Siegburg.
At the beginning of 2020, the WDR contacted cities and communities in which there were stumbling blocks. Together with experts, initiatives and action alliances, archives were then combed through, historical documents viewed, reports from survivors evaluated and sources compared.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220121-99-802686/4