- 08-05-2012, 20:06 #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2010
Germany still re-burying 40,000 WW2 soldiers a year
Lest we underestimate the savagery of the fighting on the Eastern front, there is a sobering story in the English version of Der Spiegel.
Germany Tracing Its War Dead from World War II - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Some 3 million German soldiers died in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in World War II, and the fate of hundreds of thousands of them remains unknown to their relatives and descendants...The end of the Cold War over two decades ago enabled the organization to start locating grave sites, identifying bodies and re-interring them in new cemeteries across Russia and the Eastern European countries invaded by the German army. Some 716,000 German war dead have been found and reburied since then, and that number increases by 40,000 each year, the commission said. The database processes some 20,000 searches per month.
Soldiers were often buried hastily where they fell, or near field dressing stations and hospitals where they died of their wounds. Most of the burial sites are unmarked, and some are mass graves, said Kirchmeier. "We have gathered a lot of records from the war and we use them to locate cemeteries. Then our staff travel there to try to pinpoint them.
"We rely on the help of local eyewitnesses, which is a further aspect putting us under time pressure because these people are of course very old and we won't be able to ask them in 10 years' time. We often come too late. Sites have often been plundered by people who searched the graves looking for items they can sell."
Sometimes, the commission's teams get a hostile reception.
"Some people are happy when the dead are taken away from their land but occasionally we still encounter massive resentment by local people," said Kirchmeier. "The memory of the occupation by the Germans and of the war crimes is still very alive." The war claimed 20 million lives in the Soviet Union and 6 million in Poland alone. The forces of Nazi Germany laid waste to vast swaths of the land they conquered in a war of annihilation that targeted civilians from the start.
- 08-05-2012, 21:11 #2
it makes you think doesn't it ? do you know the percentage of unknown corpses ? it seems so sad that you have graves with no names on them . no matter which army they served in .A sapper with an idea is like a monkey with a hand grenade
- 08-05-2012, 21:26 #3
Probably not well known because all Germans who died in the war are often wrongly equated to NAZIs. So it's probably been kept quiet due to modern day embarrassment of what people before us got up to.
I never had the thought, or the time to ask my grandad about "his" war. I thought I was living one of my own only a few years after joining up. I remember him once saying though, in response to I can't exactly remember...: "They were sailors, not nazis". I think I asked him if he hated them or something like that. Dunno, I was young and can't remember exactly.
Wish I could ask the fucker a few questions now though...
- 08-05-2012, 21:29 #4
- 08-05-2012, 21:34 #5Should have made things easier for themselves like they did for their victims......
- 08-05-2012, 21:40 #6
- 08-05-2012, 21:43 #7
Who knows?...probably not as many who shot and beat to death people who could have been your harmless, kindly white haired grandmother, mother,father,little nephew.
Mate, I know that most of the Germans were probabaly just PBI/young men called up to fight for their country and may have never been involved in anything remotely like genocide/mass murder....just trying to put things into perspective for other people who's relatives have no known grave.
- 08-05-2012, 21:56 #8
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
- 08-05-2012, 22:01 #9
Just returned from a British Legion trip to Ypres salient, where we visited many of the Commonwealth War Graves including Tyne Cot, Essex Farm and others. Beautiful, peaceful and poignant are some of the words that come to mind. We also visited the German cemetary at Langemark - much darker and oppressive in nature - no less poignant though and notable that 4/6 bodies were located under each headstone. Just being there in the rain and looking across the bare fields made gave just a tiny glimmer of what it was like. We were lucky to be invited to the re-dedication of 3 WW2 Allied Spitfire pilot graves in Ypres: they had been killed on ops in 1942. Relatives of the Czech and British pilots were there too. Speaking to them afterwards one got an impression of how much it meant to them as families. On a human level, if the German War Graves Commission can achieve a tenth of that closure, it will have been worth it, even 3 or 4 generations on.No plan survives the first contact.
- 08-05-2012, 22:24 #10My grandad had nothing against the Germans, for more or less the same reason - but despised the French. Absolutely fucking hated them. Not sure why.
My Grandad never really spoke about it much and in the years I knew him - I never thought to ask much.
Anyobody else opened up the box of documents and found out things you never knew and thought: "Why didn't the fucker say something?!"
No - he was not partial to wearing black maskers either. He downplayed a hell of a lot though.
Last edited by supermatelot; 08-05-2012 at 22:27.