App creates virtual Holocaust memorials

Stolpersteine - inscribed stones set in the ground in memory of Nazi victims - have caused controversy in Munich. Nine years ago an artist was banned from putting new ones up. But now a phone app will create virtual memorials.

App creates virtual Holocaust memorials
Photo: DPA

App users will get a phone notification when they are near the last place one of the Holocaust victims lived in freedom, including more information about the victim than the ten centimetre square Stolpersteine can give.

The virtual Stolpersteine will show information on each person’s life, career and children, as well as photos of them.

Users can also see a map showing the locations of all the virtual Stolpersteine in Munich and select one to read the information.

The app’s makers said that in return for a donation of €10, they will cooperate with Munich’s city archive to find further information on a specific person.

Founder of the Initiative for Stolpersteine in Munich, artist Gunter Demnig, was forbidden by Munich’s town council in 2004 to go ahead with the project on public ground.

The council argued that putting the 200 memorial stones “in the dirt of the street” could be seen as “degrading” to the victims’ memory”, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

But the app, available to download free from October 23rd, will allow people to experience the 200 memorial stones Demnig was not allowed to lay, as well as pointing them to those that have been laid on private ground.

Martina Bachmann, from one of the two companies which developed the app, told the Süddeutsche it would create “a museum hovering over the whole of Munich,” which would avoid the names of the victims being trodden into the pavement.

Nevertheless, project members still have their hearts set on physical stones in pavements.

A spokesman for the initiative, Terry Swartzberg, told the Süddeutsche that two new stones would be laid in private ground on December 20th.

Those who have not downloaded the app should still have access to the stones, he said.

The Local/atje

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