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Thread: German war dead no one wants to remember

  1. #1
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    Default German war dead no one wants to remember

    June 7, 2008
    German war dead no one wants to remember

    Steel helmets from German soldiers killed on the Eastern Front: about 2.6 million died in the last phase of the war


    Roger Boyes in Berlin

    It has been a long, troubled journey for the brittle bones and skull of Obergefreiter Horst F, from the dusty frontline ditch where he was killed in 1945, via a Czech lavatory fittings factory to a military warehouse. Soon, though, he and more than 4,000 German soldiers will be laid to rest: Europe’s forgotten warriors, the corpses that no one wants to bury.

    If the the luck of the German lance corporal holds, he will have not only a priest but also a civil servant at his graveside; and if the German War Graves Commission can trace the family in time, there may even be a distant relative. But one thing is for sure: it will not be the funeral of a war hero. More likely, the president of the war graves commission, Reinhard Fuehrer, will say similar words to those he used a few years back when he buried a thousand German Wehrmacht corpses in Krasnodar, southern Russia: “We are here today to represent the German people that has learnt its lesson from history and is now looking to the future.”

    Unfinished business: that is the only way to describe the tens of thousands of German corpses rotting in distant fields of Eastern Europe. There are conflicting estimates over the number of German military war dead. German historian Wolfram Wette calculates that about 5.3 million German soldiers lost their lives in the Second World War.” Out of that number about 2.6 million were killed in the last phase between July 1944 and May 1945.” The Red Army was moving up fast from the east, rushing for Berlin, eager to establish a military presence in a huge swathe of Eastern Europe.

    There was no time for the Germans to bury the dead as one defensive line after another crumbled. And after the war there was no great incentive to dig holes or to carve crosses for the remnants of an army that had been part of Hitler’s oppressive machine. So their coal-scuttle helmets, mangled weapons and badges were plundered by local teenagers and they were left to decay in woods, under bracken or crunched up by digger trucks as they moved in to build high rise blocks for the new communist societies.

    “We are very relieved that agreement has been reached,” says Fritz Kirchmeier, of the war graves commission. The small Czech town of Cheb – custard-coloured Habsburgian buildings fringed by brothels and clip joints for cross-border German tourists – has agreed to expand its graveyard to take in the 4,300 bodies that have been on tour for the past 63 years. “We can give names to 1,350 of them,” says Mr Kirchmeier, “and a decent resting place.” Many German civilians must have been among the dead, killed by vengeful Czechs as they tried to flee westwards away from the Russians. At least 200 of the powdery skeletons were dug out of a mass grave hidden underneath the sports field of the Czech town of Rovensko; immediately after the war the local authorities had set up an internment camp for Sudeten Germans there.

    So, no, this is not a heroic moment, not even a historic reckoning. The bodies started to be exhumed about ten years ago – the collapse of communism made it possible; so did the need of local authorities for an influx of Western cash. Cheb will receive several hundred thousand euros to enlarge its graveyard and build an approach road to the church. The original plan of the Germans was to bury their dead in a German evangelical church in Prague but that proved too expensive. The church is listed and millions of euros would have had to flow to make it acceptable for the bureaucracy. The fact is Prague was not keen to take on four thousand dead Germans, especially as some of the dead could have been members of the Waffen SS.

    Sealed unceremonoiusly in black body bags, the remains of the Germans were then deposited in a cheerless factory specialising in lavatory bowls and bathroom fittings in Usti nad Labem, the Czech end of the Elbe river. There was no lock on the door – and no telling whether any of the bags were removed by looting locals. Eventually, the Germans got wind of the dismal setting and pressed the Czechs to act. The Czech Army – now a Nato partner – poured the remains into more dignified cardboard coffins, held together by staples, and transferred them to a military barracks where they are at least kept under guard.

    “It may take a little time to complete the landscaping of the new cemetery but it is a realistic aim to have everyone buried by the end of the year,” says Mr Kirchmeier.

    Across Eastern Europe there are German bodies held in a similar state of limbo. The battle for Berlin, from mid-April to surrender at the beginning of May 1945, claimed more than 400,000 German soldiers. Only a small fraction of them were buried properly. The Germans blame the communist authorities, in East Germany, Poland and elsewhere, who officially venerated the heroic Soviet war dead with massive concrete monuments, but who were not bothered by the fate of those who fought on the losing side.

    But at least part of the blame rests with the Germans themselves who have been ashamed for the best part of half a century about the ordinary German soldier, unsure whether he was a hero or a criminal. “In the records of the Wehrmacht the average Joe tends to exist only in anonymous form, a statistic,” says Dr Wette, "the logs of military units generally make no mention of enlisted men by name and the same applies to regimental histories written after the war.” Barely 1 per cent of the holdings of the German military archives in Freiburg deals with enlisted soldiers.

    Little wonder that they have been ignored in death - they had already been airbrushed out of history by the Germans themselves. There is no equivalent to the tomb of the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the Cenotaph in London. Instead, villages put up small monuments to those who died “in war and dictatorship, 1914-45” and sometimes the names of locals are etched into the side. But more often than not families do not know where their relatives died or where they now lie.

    Thanks to the lobbying work and fundraising of the German War Graves Commission there are now 20 German military cemeteries in Russia, still too few to accomodate the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who died in epic encounters like the Siege of Leningrad. Search teams still go out during the summer. German soldiers, on active service or in reserve units, travel to Russia and elsewhere to help.

    Archaeology is about the search for lost civilisations. The search for German remains is something else: an attempt to recover the memory of how savage war can be and then put the memory to rest.

    Military casualties

    Army estimated 13,600,000 served; estimated 4,202,000 killed

    Air force estimated 2,500,000 served; estimated 433,000 killed

    Navy estimated 1,200,000 served; estimated 138,000 killed

    Waffen SS estimated 900,000 served; estimated 314,000 killed

    1,419,728 estimated number of German troops killed or wounded on the Eastern Front

    Source: Times research



  2. #2
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Hi im new to the board I think Germans today have gone thru a tremendos change the past 60 plus years a change for the good but Germans are afraid to express there hertitage and national pride; the ghosts of Nazi Germany I think still resdue inside German life. Germany has a strong army today but the Bundwesir is openly afraid to due what is right helping her allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. You see there is no medals for German soldiers and that is a shame Iron cross for example is forbidden because the Nazis like all other aspects of German life stained it with there ignorance toward there fellow man. It kinda makes you wonder what would have happen before 1989 would West German army stood up aganist U.S.S.R. ? or would they have laid down and wanted peace ? Germany today is a very open and liberal society. What im getting at is the German people are anti-military for the first time in there long history as a nation Prussian Empire thru Willmar Republic to Third Reich; to the occupation of the two Germany's. German people just don't want to be remined of that horrible era.

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    No manner how or why , the remains once found any where should be treated with respect and paid the attention they deserve. Unkown or not, they should be laid to rest, in peace.

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    These men absolutely deserve a decent burial...



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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    These men absolutely deserve a decent burial...
    I consider any man who dies in combat a soldier that deserves honor no matter what nation or side he fought for.
    When it comes to the real reasons soldiers fight, we are all the same.
    I can see the difficulty in a country honoring dead that potentially were killers of innocents, but the greater majority of these men were common troops which is precisely why they were forgotten.

    About Germany today, I know here in the Midwest USA where I've lived most of my life, they still teach the world wars through school, and there are many books, memorials and monuments dedicated to WW2 in this country, but I think you would be surprised just how supportive we in this country are of a free Germany doing it's thing.
    We think nowadays very little of those times. Many germans live in this country now, and germans today are not looked at in anyway as "Nazis".
    Americans feel more like shaking hands after a hard fight. We don't hold war grudges.
    Last edited by larryparamedic; 06-14-2008 at 03:20 PM.

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    I think that any man or woman who sheds their blood for their country despite the cause should recieve a proper burial




    LIFE'S A GARDEN....DIG IT!

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    They fighted for theyr land so did the Soviets
    both are Heroic Fighters many of the soldiers in reallity never wanted the war on both sides.

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    You're wrong if you think we not remember the fallen heroes who fights in the East front.I think every person,who intrested in ww2,give respect his own fallen heroes
    "The consciousness that I am alive, makes me wild dreams every day"
    (Helmut Wolff lieutenant colonel, one who survived the breakout of Budapest)

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    I have trouble with posters who want to revere the German dead but who have overt Nazi signatures.

    Maybe this is the reason that certain deeds in ww2 are not yet about to be forgotten and still feel shameful to some Germans?

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Quote Originally Posted by PANZERCOMMANDER View Post
    No manner how or why , the remains once found any where should be treated with respect and paid the attention they deserve. Unkown or not, they should be laid to rest, in peace.
    yes i agree...even if the remains belong 2 a german soilder

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    I am new too here but i join to your opinions - no matter of the nationality every soldier should recieve a proper burial no matter if he or she fought for the USSR , Nazi Germany or USA or whatever else country . They all deserve a respect and to rest in peace . As for nowdays Germany i think the germans should stop to feel guilty or like nazis , they already learned well the lesson that the agression and the war don't bring anything good , so the world should leave them be as they are .

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    poor jerry

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    rip jerry and all men in service, miss em all.

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Hello guys,

    Think some one has to say some reliable things about the German casualties:

    2,6 million died after summer 1944? Let us see.......
    I come on about 2 million KIA and 1 million+ of deaths in custody.
    So 2,6 million may be too low.

    IF 5,3 soldiers inclusive Volkssturm and HJ were killed and IF of these 1,5 million died in custody and 0.5 million died of sickness, disease, suicide and other causes THEN 3,3 million were KIA on all fronts. Of these 3,3 million KIA 900.000 were KIA on all fronts (of these 239.000 in France alone) (Atlantic, the Air...in Yugoslavia, North Africa, Italy, the West) except against the Sovjets and roughly 2,4 million were KIA against the Sovjets and their Allies. In nowadays Poland about 468.000 (Warschau, Brody, Breslau, Kolberg, Heiligenbeil, Danzig..) are burried (inclusive 16.000 of 1939), 250.000 in White Russia (Minsk, Bobruisk..), 178.000 in Tjecho-Slovakia, 155.000 in the Baltic States (Vilnius,,), 125.000 in Eastern Germany (in/around Berlin, Halbe...), 75.000+ in Moldavia (Kishinev..), 56.000 in Hungary (Budapest), 50.000 in SU (former northern part of East Prussia, notably Königsberg, Pillau...), 45.000 in Austria, 38.000 in Rumania (Iassy..), 15.000 in Finland & Lapland, 1800 in Bulgaria.
    Alltogether they form up about the losses on the Eastern Front (minus those losses of 1939-1941) from the summer until May '45 and totalled are about: 1.4 million soldiers.
    In the present SU and Ukraine about 1.000.000 million lost their lives between the summer of 1941 and the summer of 1944. This was mainly near Leningrad, in front of Moscou, Vitebsk, Demjansk, in the Ukraine, Kursk, Voronesh, Charkow, Lower Dnepr (Cherkassy), Crimea (Sevastopol), in the Donetsk area, in the Caucasus (Novorossiysk) and near Stalingrad. About 180-200.000 of this one million died in/ near Stalingrad.
    These numbers are in harmony with those published by Rüdiger Overmans (leading author on German Losses) and WASt & Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK).

    Of those died in custody the French, US, Soviet, Yugoslav and British official and unofficial numbers are respectivley: 28.000 (x2, x3?); 22.000 (+ unknown number of deaths in Rhine camps; possibly near 40-50.000); 468.000 (x2, x3), 8000 (x2, x3, x >3) and 18-20.000+ (x1?). Alltogether their number is near 1,5 million.
    So official numbers can never be correct.

    Who dares to challenge this sound "numbers" SUDOKU???
    Last edited by rove1; 11-14-2008 at 05:16 AM.

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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Initially, I wasn't going to post on this thread: to any thinking person of the modern age, compassion towards the dead should be obvious, a human action of at least respect, if not always reverence.

    With the indulgence of my fellow forum members, I put forward the following reasoning:

    In Belgium stands a cemetery, on the site of the 3rd battle of Passchendael, October 4th, 1917. A relative of mine is commemorated on a tablet there, for his body was never recovered.
    One day, I hope to visit there, place a poppy by his name.

    As I said to a family member recently, I'd then do two more things: Find a grave of a soldier from the same company, and place a poppy on his grave...
    ...then find the grave of a German soldier who died the same day, October 4th, 1917, and place a poppy on his grave also.

    Similarly, that same relative's nephew, a World War 2 death, is commemorated on a tablet in the Military Cemetery at Gibraltar: His body was buried at sea offshore.
    I'd place a poppy by his name, and another by the name of a German who died the same day, even if I had to go to a German cemetery to do so.

    Why?

    My reasoning is simple: regardless the rights or wrongs of the respective nations, those men ALL died in defense of their country, and ALL served their nation in its' hours of strife.

    I cannot see that German war dead from World War 2 deserve less compassion, I cannot see that they deserve no place of rest.

    I am no Apologist, nor Revisionist on behalf of Germany.

    NOR though, do I believe German war dead are any less deserving of simple and respectful human compassion than those of the Allied nations.

    Surely, it behooves those of us who live in this day to at least grant the dead of Germany the compassion of decent rest, even IF there be some who would wish to extend generosity no further, and do no more.

    Victory means triumph: it also means a certain incumbent measure of compassion, or the Victory itself replaces the Victor as the Oppressor over whom that same Victory was gained.

    Message ENDS.

    Regards, Uyraell.
    Last edited by Uyraell; 02-15-2009 at 05:08 AM.

    "Honi-Soit Qui Mal'Y Pense." :
    "Ill unto he who ill of it thinks."
    Edward III, Rex Britania, AD1348.

    "Wenn Schon, denn schon."
    "Be It Done, Best be It Be Done Well."
    Known German adage.

    "Until you have looked into a veteran's eyes and actually seen it,
    you'll never fully understand."
    ^Uyraell^

    "Aligaes : Amore vel Ira." :
    "^Winged Ones^ : Love or Wrath."

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