Basile Simon (blog) Data, hackery, stories

Comparing Berlin memorial street plaques datasets

Here are two quite different datasets, which supposedly represent the same thing. Hard to miss how different is the extent of their geographical coverage.

🔸 Wikidata reference 🔹 Stolpersteine-berlin dataset maps of Stolpersteine View on Observable


Background

In the night of Nov 9 to 10, 1938, Nazi Germany's SA forces carried out a devastating pogrom. The event came to be called Kristallnacht, "The Night of Broken Glass."

Last week, as I walked in the street in the evening I noticed that some of the brass plques had candles and roses next to them, a silent and unattended vigil in the street. It was in remeberance of Kristallnacht. The picture below is mine:

picture of a Stolperstein in the street

These plaques are Stolpersteine:

"A Stolperstein (pronounced [ˈʃtɔlpɐˌʃtaɪn]; literally "stumbling stone", metaphorically a "stumbling block") is a sett-size, ten-centimetre (3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution."

"Today, Stolpersteine are being realized for Jews, Sinti and Roma, people from the political or religious resistance, victims of the "euthanasia" murders, homosexuals, Jehovahs Witnesses and for people who were persecuted for being declared to be "asocial"."

"(It is a) project created by Gunter Demnig for honoring victims of National Socialism" (Wikipedia)


So why is the data so different?

These are two public records of the location and number of Berlin's Stolpersteine:

  • the Wikidata database,
  • and another database referenced in the daten.berlin.de catalogue, is the dataset produced by stolpersteine-berlin.de – which describes itself as "(a) liaison office between the artist Gunter Demnig together with his team and the local Stolperstein-groups."

There are only about 1,780 Wikidata records in Berlin, and they're overwhelmingly in the west of the city. Stolpersteine-berlin, on the other hand, has 3,307 records, many of them including several family members.

The Wikidata dataset has however the merit of spanning not only all of Germany, but also all of Europe:

Could the second dataset, good enough to be referenced by the Berlin open data initiative, be added to the Wikidata records, I wonder?