This is Mariahilfestraße, one of Vienna’s main shopping streets.

And, this being Europe, one can find everything from ball gowns to, well, other stuff here.


Mariahilfestraße also has “stumbling blocks,” or Stolpersteine. These concrete blocks covered with brass commemorate the last residence or workplace of both those who survived and those who were murdered under Nazi consignment to concentration and extermination camps.

The Stolpersteine Project is the creation of Gunter Demnig, a German artist-scientist. Information about the survivors and victims comes through witnesses and research databases, and his work is funded by a variety of personal and commercial contributions. Each stone is graced with the name, date of birth and the fate, along with the deportation date, destination, and death, if known.

Begun in 1992 to mark 50 years since Himmler’s decree to deport Sintis and Romas to extermination camps, there are approximately 48.000 stones across 18 countries in Europe; many, like this one going seemingly unnoticed.

So why are the memorials called, “stumbling blocks?”  As history has it, before the Holocaust, when a non-Jewish German stumbled over a stone on a walkway it was the custom to say, “There must be a Jew buried here.”