Germany still re-burying 40,000 WW2 soldiers a year

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Wordsmith, May 8, 2012.

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  1. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    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

    The war in the West was fought largely according to the Geneva convention and with a lower casualty rate than the East. But 40,000 reburials a year, many unmarked and after all this time - makes you think about the sheer carnage of what went on on the Eastern Front. Add in the Russian dead and the civilians the Nazis (and to a lesser extent the Russians) butchered and the scale gets still greater.

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  2. sirbhp

    sirbhp LE Book Reviewer

    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 .
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  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 ****** a few questions now though...
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  4. how many of ours who have died in Afg were dyed in the wool New Labour supporters who were born with an inherrent hatred of all things dari?
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  5. My grandad had nothing against the Germans, for more or less the same reason - but despised the French. Absolutely ******* hated them. Not sure why.

  6. 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.
  7. I've just been working through the WW1 names on my local memorial - horrifying number of times the CWGC records Thiepval, Arras, Menin Gate or Tyne Cot memorials, rather than giving a grave number.
  8. 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.
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  9. Was your Grandad a matelot? Mine was, and he hated the ... ******* as well! Them & Italians.
    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 ****** say something?!"

    No - he was not partial to wearing black maskers either. He downplayed a hell of a lot though.
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  10. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I've been told that the dark oppressive nature of the Langemark Cemetary is a how the Belgiuns want(ed) it. The Germans were unwanted guests and they don't (didn't) want them to forget it.

    Last year I visited Verdun while on EX in France. The French have a German flag as well as the Tricolour and the Eurosnotrag flying over Fort Douaumont which was occupied by the Germans and contains the graves of a lot of Germans.
  11. Same here with my Granddad, as a small boy of about 7 or 8 I remember being really disappointed that he was 'only' an AB during WW2 and how he didn't have any decent stories to tell. Learnt much later when I was a teenager reading his service record, and after his death, that he'd been sunk more times than Uncle Albert on the Arctic Convoys, had lost a foot after being torpedoed late on in the war, probably lost more muckers than I've had hot dinners and was pretty mentally ruined. All in all not stories really suitable for a 7 year old!
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  12. Yep, that's exactly what I found as well.

    He never mentioned bloody half of it to anyone...except his gash dit about being Champion of the Med at boxing ... his docs actually show he got 3 days off for a broken thumb after a fight in the gut in Malta!

    Anyone reading this with relatives still alive who were in WW2...

    Ask them now. Or you'll end up like me and many others thinking "If only I...:
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  13. They were products of their environments. In those days you kept it all in. Everyone your age had served and a knowing nod would convey more then a thousand words ever could. My Grandad never, ever spoke about his experiences during WW1 and his sons were surprised at what they learned after his death.
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  14. The comedy gold I found in my granddad's records was that he'd been promoted to Able Seaman 4 times and once the dizzy heights of LH during the war years, each time lasting a few months before being demoted - because the daft old bastard was scared of needles! He skived inoculations until it was made a direct order, which he flat out disobeyed. Looking back it's lucky he wasn't shot :)
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