The idea

Stolpersteine (literally translated “stumble stones”) are golden plaques embedded into the pavement in many cities all over Europe, creating the world’s largest decentralized memorial.
They commemorate the victims of the Third Reich, who were often abducted from their homes by bringing their memory back to the place they last lived willingly. However, when someone comes across Stolpersteine, there is no way of knowing what you’re currently seeing. You don’t get to know the name of the project or the context in which these plaques were installed. We wanted to find a way to make the memorial more accessible – but how?

The solution

Stolpersteine-Guide is an app for Android & iOS devices. It enriches the experience by giving the user important historical context and further information about the commemorated people right at their plaque and allowing for interaction with them for the first time. We started out with Trier, where we lived at the time. There, the app quickly became a success. Many of the cities that feature Stolpersteine now have decided to join the project, as each of them has a dedicated group of people who take care of the plaques, clean them and repair them if they’re damaged. For that reason, we also built a custom user friendly backend alongside the app, since each of these groups needs to access the entries for those they administrate independently. This way, they can create content for the app and join one by one, but we still get to monitor the changes to prevent people from entering wrong information.

How it works

This app is the first one that allows its users to go on guided tours in order to relive history. With different groups in mind the team identified during research, themed tours were created. For example, routes for children are rather short and always contain families who had children on their own so they can empathize better. These worked so well with our testers that every group can now use a drag-and-drop interface to bring this experience to their cities.
The idea is that once the user gets to the plaque along the route they will get further information in the form of biographies, portrait photos, and where available, other documents revolving around the place and its history. Through a partnership with German news broadcasting radio SWR2 it is also possible to listen to the radioplays they produced around the Stolpersteine directly within the app. Along the route, the often intertwining stories create a vivid image of what it was like to live in these dark times and what it meant for people to suffer through this.
This way, the historical facts as real and relatable as possible.

The future of the project

Stolpersteine-Guide is still active today and is currently undergoing a redesign and a crowdfunding campaign to give it a more modern visual identity and to relaunch it with state of the art code. Be sure to follow us on the social networks for more info and to check back here for more infos!

Download the app now!

Try the app yourself. Get it on the AppStore here: