Foto: Karin Richert

The artist and initiator of the Stolpersteine, Gunter Demnig, will receive the Benedict Prize of Mönchengladbach. The ceremony will take place on Friday, 29 April 2022, at Haus Erholung in Mönchengladbach. Due to the Corona pandemic, the event had to be postponed several times. The laudatory speech will be given by former NRW Minister President Armin Laschet.

The Board of Trustees of the Benedict Prize of Mönchengladbach has chosen the 74-year-old Gunter Demnig because with his Stolpersteine project he has created a large-scale memorial that is at the same time discreet and site-specific, said Helmut Linnenbrink, Chairman of the Association “Benediktpreis von Mönchengladbach”. “With each stone, Gunter Demnig sends out a lasting Christian, Western message of human dignity, mutual respect and tolerance as well as non-violence – and at the same time a message of “resisting the beginnings” in the face of developments that were actually thought to have been overcome. His work is exemplary for all of us,” reads the statement of the Board of Trustees.

Since the early 1990s, Gunter Demnig, who now lives in Hesse, has set more than 75,000 stones in 1,265 German communities and in 24 countries. The Stolpersteine bear a brass plaque on the top. On it are the names of the former Jewish and other fellow citizens who were victims of Nazi despotism. This is connected with the call not to forget and to always be alert and act responsibly. They are addressed to all generations, but increasingly to those who did not experience the Nazi era themselves.

The award of the Benedict Prize honours Demnig’s artistic work, which even 75 years after the end of World War II does not cease to remind us of the atrocities of the Nazi dictatorship. The fact that the former Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, is giving the laudation shows on the one hand the appreciation of Gunter Demnig’s work, and on the other hand it also confirms the significance of the award ceremony, Linnenbrink explains. On the day of the award ceremony, Gunter Demnig will lay 17 new Stolpersteine at six locations in Mönchengladbach.