SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


The German people today have embraced their sense of collective responsibility. They have accepted the seamless case of genocide and its implications are part of the national soul. They have come to full reckoning, determined to remember a difficult past and not repeat it. The Austrians, the Dutch, and the Poles have yet to reach the point of confession or even an awareness of responsibility. Perhaps the most remarkable symbol of national responsibility is the grassroots Stolperstein or Stumble Stone project, which began in Germany in 1992 with the goal to remember the victims of the Holocaust individually. Cobblestone-size concrete squares bearing a brass plate inscribed with the names and birth and death dates of victims are set in the sidewalk at the victim’s last place of chosen residence prior to deportation. To date, more than 50,000 markers have been laid in eighteen European countries. This is an intimate reminder of the Holocaust. It recalls the taking of neighbors from their homes and their unjust deaths. It rebuilds the fabric of community. Explicit in this is the message that there are no innocent bystanders.