Gunter Demnig is a remarkable artist that has not only inspired millions of people with his work, but has been recognized as a great humanitarian. Born in Germany on October 27, 1947, Gunter studied creative education and industrial design in Berlin. He majored in art at the University of Kassel and following that, spent two years planning, managing, and building historical documents. In 1985, this young artist opened his own studio in Cologne and worked on multiple local projects. Mr. Demnig’s best and most powerful work is the Stolpersteine project, a memorial for those who were murdered during the time of the holocaust. Gunter is constantly moving from town to town across Europe, as he not only creates but also installs every stone himself.
When Demnig first tried to start the project, it was rejected and the stones were forbidden. However, Gunter did not take no for an answer and installed multiple stolpersteine in Salzburg. As three or more stones are considered a memorial, the government could not remove them.
As part of my journey to learn more about the Stolpersteine project, I traveled to Salzburg in hopes of meeting the man responsible for creating these inspiring memorials. When I was able to speak with Gunter at one of his installations he came across as kind and soft-spoken, a person who genuinely cares for this project and the people it is helping. In our conversation he was friendly and attentive, answering all of my questions with more information I could have hoped for. Gunter has devoted all of his time and energy into creating and placing stones with only one goal in mind: to alleviate as many people as possible. He is able to heal people everyday and to do something that really matters. With his stolpersteine project, Gunter Demnig has given thousands of people closure and a chance to be remembered.