They’ve become an integral part of public spaces in German cities: the Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) that commemorate the victims of the Third Reich. In front of our houses, schools, and factories, they remind us of our fellow men and women, who were taken away and murdered. Even in theatres, places for art and freedom, equalization and exclusion worked particularly quickly. Using the personnel records of the state theatre in Karlsruhe, Hans-Werner Kroesinger and Regine Dura have reconstructed in detail the workings of anti-Semitic discrimination and the exclusion of leftist and liberal theatre artists after 1933. They also examine how little discussion of these events took place after 1945: Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine weren’t installed in front of the state theatre in Karlsruhe until 2013. In the Stolpersteine Staatstheater (State Theatre Stolpersteine), actors sit at a large desk along with the audience and read files, newspaper reports, memoirs, magazine interviews. The bureaucratic procedure, which regulates the social exclusion and the preparation of the genocide in detailed, legal terms, is transformed seventy years later into a dialogue with the historical documents. It points repeatedly to the present, in which discriminatory exclusion, proto-fascist ideas and the re-nationalisation of culture seem to be valid choices and are becoming more acceptable in mainstream circles.
After an invitation to Berlin’s Theatertreffen festival and celebrated performances abroad, the documentary-theatre piece Stolpersteine Staatstheater of the Staatstheater Karlsruhe can now be seen in Berlin again as a visiting performance during the 3. Berliner Herbstsalon.