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Research for Stumbling Stone Project

Maike Grünwaldt and Christa Fladhammer spent a week at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen researching about 230 names for the Hamburg project “Stumbling Stones.” “We wanted to see what additional information we could find at the ITS,” said both volunteer researchers. Begun in 1995, the nationwide stumbling stone project remembers victims of National Socialism at their previous residences.

Both Hamburg natives have specifically focused on the Jews of Isestreet in the Harvestehude district, who were deported and murdered during National Socialism. “Many Jews lived on this street until 1938,” Grünwaldt reported. “We wanted to connect the stones with life stories.”

The Hamburg initiative has laid over 2,000 stumbling stones since the summer of 2002. Square brass plaques engraved with birth and death dates remember murdered Jewish victims in front of their former homes. Relatives or current building residents often arrange for the laying of stumbling stones. The victims can also be remembered thanks to donations from businesses. A number of history workshops as well as volunteer members have compiled information on victims.

In addition to their involvement with the stumbling stone project, short biographies of Holocaust victims are also being written by Hamburg's State Agency for Civic Education and the Institute for the History of German Jews. The two Hamburg natives were therefore especially interested in the ITS´s T/D (Tracing/Documents) files containing correspondence from family members. “These files are helpful for our work, as they often enclose additional information about lives and persecution,” according to Fladhammer.

The volunteer researchers mainly looked at requests at the Restitution Office in the early stages of the project. “We have already been able to locate a lot of information on Jewish victims thanks to these documents and copies of deportation lists in the Hamburg State Archive,” Fladhammer said. “With ITS´s help we can now add further details about professions or deportations,” Grünwaldt added.´

More information on the project "Stumbling Stones": www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de