To us the 1920s Berlin project is more than just a roleplaying 3D world for our little community.
It is also about the past, trying to learn from history, envisioning what Berlin was like before the Nazis took over and trying to understand the dark times that followed and the damage done by the horrible things that found their origin in the 1920s.
When I heard about the ‘Stolperstein’ remembrance project, I wanted to support it.
“Stolperstein” is the German word for “stumbling block”, “obstacle”, or “something in the way.”
Throughout RL Berlin (and many other cities in more and more European countries) you can find, or stumble over, many of these little brass stones in the pavement.
These memorials commemorate individuals – both those who died and survivors – who were consigned by the Nazis to prisons, euthanasia facilities, sterilization clinics, concentration camps, and extermination camps, as well as those who responded to persecution by emigrating or committing suicide.
While the vast majority of stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, others have been placed for Sinti and Romani people (also called gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christians (both Protestants and Catholics) opposed to the Nazis, members of the Communist Party and the Resistance, military deserters, and the physically and mentally disabled.
The stones are dug into the pavement outside the houses where these people used to live.
A very moving and emotional monument to a single person can sometimes leave a bigger impact than a monument to thousands.
When I fist stumbled upon such a stone I must confess I had not heard about them and found it hard not to burst into tears on the spot.
Gunter Demnig is the artist behind these very impressive series of monuments which commemorates individual victims of the Holocaust and when I contacted him and his assistants about our project they were excited and promised to visit us in Second Life.
When, in February 2012 I mentioned the Stolperstein project to the people of 1920s Berlin everyone got excited and soon enough money was collected to sponsor one of the stones.
Together with the Stolperstein people we picked a name from a long list, much too long, of names of Nazi victims.
I picked Rosa Bleiberg who lived in a street that we also have in our sim.
She was born in 1926 and would have been a 3 year old girl in 1929, the year we are recreating in our simulation.
She was deported in 1943 and murdered in Auschwitz.
As every stone is handcrafted and installed by Herr Demnig in person it took a while before he managed to put the one we sponsored in front of Rykestrasse 52, Berlin.
But it was unveiled last month and I think we can be very proud as a virtual community to have given this almost forgotten victim a little monument of remembrance.
And I hope we will be able to sponsor many more so we will start another fundraise for these ‘Stolpersteinen’ in November.
Thank you everyone who put Lindens in the Stolperstein donation meter.
If you are interested in sponsoring such a stone, contact the people behind it on their site.