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AliceF

German cemeteries in France

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Any references to Breitenbach (Haut-Rhin) or Munster (Haut-Rhin)?

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Many thanks for the Kemmel-update Christine!

Roel

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Gwyn, wonderful photos from Drei Ähren! I can check for the other places you named. Can you read German? Otherwise I could see if the longer travel descriptions say something more detailed. Is there any place of all the ones you named, which you are most interested in?

Christine

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Sadly, I can't read German. My husband can, to a point, but I doubt he would be able to manage the texts you are using. Apart from English, I can only read French. I visit Alsace and the Vosges frequently, with a particular interest in the Great War there (and I blog about the period before the Great War), which is why I was interested in what you might find. The places I mentioned are ones I know well.

Gwyn

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Gwyn, I did not find any of these personal travel reports, but several of these more official ones about the state of the cemetery. I post here two as an example, both from May 1925. (Those of you who prefer the German version instead of the wonderful google translate versions – see the attachment). Christine

Ammerschweier, cemetery "Drei Ähren" (Upper Rhine). Not far from the health resort "Drei Ähren" is one of the most beautiful military cemeteries in Alsace-Lorraine. By the end of 1925, it was under the administration of the parish. With the beginning of 1926 the French authorities took over the care of this artistic cemetery. 260 German soldiers have been buried here in a high pine forest. Paths run through the site and divide the cemetery into many small, rectangular, circular or semicircular grave beds. Each grave bed [?] constitutes in itself a complete system, which is often decorated by a common monument. Some of the graves are marked by wooden crosses or even grave stones in various forms. The single graves are covered with mosses and surrounded by small fieldstones. Almost every grave is decorated with flowers or ornamental shrubs. At the entrance of the cemetery there is a sign, stating that the walking on the grass is prohibited. In another part of the cemetery, some of our former enemies are buried, whose graves are marked by white wooden crosses with black inscription.

Hohrod, cemetery "Bärenstall" (Upper Rhine ). Two kilometers north-west of Münster. Between the heights Schratzmännle , Hohrodberg and Lingekopf is the German military cemetery in which 2575 German soldiers are buried, who lost their lives in the struggle for these heights. Only 1652 soldiers rest in individual graves, while 923 were reburied in a massgrave. The individual graves are marked by black wooden crosses with white inscription. In contrast to the cemetery in Ammerschweier, this cemetery gives a desolate and sad impression. Long undecorated row graves run through the cemetery, and only very occasionally there are some firs, which are hidden in the large number of black wooden crosses and barely visible. The old grown forest that once stood here is completely destroyed [shot down]. Since the cemetery faces the weather side, the inscriptions of the crosses have faded quickly, and the crosses must often be replaced.

VDK Maiy1925

Ammerschweier.docx

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Those extracts are fascinating: thank you so much. I will add more postcards showing Hohrod cemetery tomorrow.

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Gwyn

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post-16-0-25400900-1449790607_thumb.jpg

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Great with all the photos! I see you both have been working for long with these cemeteries.

Christine

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Hohrod-Bärenstall cemetery is interesting. The pyramid shown in the old postcards is in the verge of the road approaching the large German cemetery called Hohrod-Bärenstall. It was part of the original German cemetery constructed on the slopes of the notorious Schratzmännele, one of the three summits of the battle of le Linge, 1915.

The monument was built by Bavarian troops in 1916. It is in its original position. In the early 1930s the burials in the steep cemetery on Schratzmännele were relocated to the new cemetery Hohrod-Bärenstall, a concentration cemetery close by on the opposite side of the road facing towards Schratzmännele. The monument remained where it was. This is part of the original German cemetery before Hohrod-Bärenstall (the one shown in my postcards above) was constructed:

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This is Hohrod-Bärenstall cemetery now:

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Thanks for the extra links, Egbert.

Gwyn

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From Brückenweiler, Elsass

“Taking the train to Dammerkirch [Dannemarie], I saw from the train the French cemetery in Altkirch, which, apart from the white crosses, is not much different from the German cemeteries. Soldiers buried in Dammerkirch have been exhumed; on the civil cemetery rest now only French soldiers. After several unsuccessful attempts I met a businessman who took me in his car to Brückenweiler [bréchaumont]. Unfortunately I did not meet the priest or the mayor there. They had been recommended to me by a relative to one of the soldiers, who was buried in the mass grave. Both [the priest and the mayor] and the relative have had extensive correspondence, in which the relative got detailed information about this mass grave and other graves in the surrounding. But I could speak to the man who had buried German soldiers, which had died on patrol, under waving a white flag against the French themselves. He had also decorated the grave with a nice and solid enclosure and a large cross with inscription. He also attended the exhumations, which were carried out against the will of the municipality. This man gave valuable information during exhumation about each burial. This made it possible that several of these soldiers could be reburied in individual graves and not in mass graves in the cemetery at Sennheim (Cernay).”

VDK December 1924

Christine

Brueckenweiler.docx

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...The pyramid shown in the old postcards is in the verge of the road approaching the large German cemetery called Hohrod-Bärenstall. ... ...

The monument was built by Bavarian troops in 1916. It is in its original position... ...The monument remained where it was.

Thanks for that Gwyn. It's actually really surprised me that it's still in it's original position. Would the concrete pill-box thingy (apologies for the slightly less than technical term!) at the current cemetery entrance have been part of the original cemetery back then too?

For illustration of the pyramid's position today for those who don't know it, here's an image I took of it in 2012 (using a zoom lens...photo taken from the 'pill-box thingy'). This could have been the last photo I could ever have taken of it.... I saw a car mount the verge while speeding and nearly hit it when I was there in August this year!!! (Mind you, I suppose it would have still been in better condition than the car if it had happened!)

Dave.

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The 'pill-box thingy' I'm referring to ....


...would it be the item I've ringed in your post-card, Gwyn?

Dave

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post-357-0-85695900-1449884480_thumb.jpg

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Hi Dave

I believe it's the same bunker! According to Guide Michelin Les champs de bataille Alsace Moselle Les combats du Vosges, (2013), the bunker dates from 1917. Another card:

post-16-0-26660300-1449917915_thumb.jpg


The pyramid - the graves are immediately adjacent to it, ascending the hillside. Michelin Guide 1920:

post-16-0-57544200-1449918030_thumb.jpg

I've also found written evidence that it's in its original position but I would have to find my references. I have another picture showing it. The new, final, consolidation cemetery was definitely built across the road where it is now.

here's an image I took of it in 2012 (using a zoom lens...photo taken from the 'pill-box thingy'). This could have been the last photo I could ever have taken of it.... I saw a car mount the verge while speeding and nearly hit it when I was there in August this year!!! (Mind you, I suppose it would have still been in better condition than the car if it had happened!)

I'm pretty sure the bunker / pill-box thingy was still there in September!!

Gwyn

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Alice,

Are there any references to visits to the German cemeteries in the southern Ardennes, that contain, contained the bodies of those killed in the Battle of the Frontiers: perhaps Bellefontaine, Virton, Ethe, Neufchateau might be names mentioned ?

Thank you,

Steve

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Christine, thank you for the information about Cernay (Sennheim) and for taking the time to translate it.

Anything about Giragoutte? This was by a large German camp in the area of the summit of Grand Hohnack.

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Steve, the references I found in the database are so far only to these short notes. But I will look for some of these longer travel reports. I have got the impression that place names there are not always in the database.

Ethel: 1920 - unmanaged, 1923-well managed

Virton: 1923 – in good condition

Belle Fontaine: 1921 a care taker is in charge to manage the cemetery

Belle Fontaine (b. Chiny): 1923 managed, crosses on all graves

Belle Fontain 1924: overgrown by weeds

Neufchateu 1922: good condition, but graves have no plantings; another one from 1922: the parish takes care of the graves

Christine


Gwyn, nothing on Giragoutte, But I found something on Breitenbach, which I try to post later.

Christine

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German cemetery "Krähenberg" Breitenbach (Alsace-Lorraine)

After about 25 minutes of continuous way up from the newly constructed village of Breitenbach, one unexpectedly stands in front of the previously hidden cemetery. The cemetery is situated above the lovely Munster valley and offers a view on the former hard-fought Reichsackerkopf and the neighboring wooded heights.

The cemetery was originally established by German troops, but was expanded by the French through concentration of dead from the surrounding. Today 1039 German soldiers rest on this large cemetery in individual graves and 2278 in four mass graves. Reburials were done form the following locations [...; long list of place names].

The cemetery is remotely located just below the summit of Krähenberg, surrounded by both high and young forest stands. The usual wooden crosses stand in long rows on the bare, but clean graves. At the highest point of the cemetery – close to the forest - there is a high wooden cross with many wreaths lying at its base. From this place you have a nice view to the hills and valleys opposite of the cemetery. On many graves you can still find the grave stones that faithful companions or relatives have put there for the slumbering. The individual graves are framed by stones and are situated in terraces above each other. The soldiers buried in this cemetery belonged mainly to the following regiments: IR 188, 189, RIR 18, 73, 74, 75, 92; LIR 12, 121, 122, 436; Bay RIR 19, 22, 23; FAR 20. [Then follows a design plan for the cemetery, which was designed by the Volksbund].

VDK November 1928

Christine

Breitenbach.docx

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I still do appreciate your original German text attachments and will follow them with great interest from now far away Straight of Hormus

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Thank you ever so much Alice, the Germans built some beautiful cemeteries in the Ardennes, usually to hold the dead of both sides.

Steve

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Egbert, enjoy your journey!

Steve, I’ll continue to look for the area you mentioned – but it might take some time.

Meanwhile a text about Erquinghem (an English cemetery including 170 graves of German soldiers), that I noticed:

"For a long time it was my dearest wish to visit the grave of my son who died in the war. In August 1925 I ordered a passport at the local mayor's office. With this passport and an application stating the purpose of my journey I went to the French delegation. The delegation approved the request and passed it to Mainz, and after about 14 days the entry permit arrived. Some anxious acquaintance advised me not to travel alone and without sufficient French language skills, but I did not let me put off and travelled on the 15th of August to Metz. Here I stayed overnight and the next morning I took the express train via Sedan, Valenciennes to Lille, where I arrived at noon. From here I travelled further to Armentières and Erquinghem, the destination of my trip. This is a place of about 2000 inhabitants, which is entirely rebuilt with the exception of some houses and the church, because it was just like Armentières completely shot into pieces during the war. I was treated politely by the people and the authorities, with whom I came into contact, and they guided me to the warden who is employed by the British government to take care of the military cemetery. In every place where British soldiers are buried, these English wardens are entrusted with the maintenance of the graves.

Accompanied by the warden I entered the cemetery which is located next to the shattered church, where I found the grave of my son in good condition. Here at the cemetery rest about 170 German and 1200 Englishmen in individual graves, only separated by a footpath. English graves have received about 80 cm high uniform headstones in yellow-white sandstone with inscriptions that state name, military unit and date of death. The German graves still bear the old wooden crosses from war times with a plate with the name, military unit and date of death. To make it easier to find an English grave, the English have mounted a lockable metal box at the entrance to each of its cemeteries, where a list of the alphabetical names of all buried soldiers in the cemetery is listed, so that one can immediately see in which plot the grave is located. These lists are absent for German graves.

In this cemetery German graves are preserved and decorated with flowers in the same way as English graves. The English warden, whom I thanked for this, said that he and his colleagues have the order, to make no difference in the maintenance of graves of English, French, German or any other nationality […]. The warden was together with me the whole afternoon and guided me even a bit to Armentières, where I went by foot. [...] I stayed the night in Armentières, but visited once more alone the grave of my son in the evening. I remained in this place in silent devotion, until the shades of the night fell on the many tombs. "

VDK June 1926

Erquinghem before 1926 and today:

http://www.ww1-yorkshires.org.uk/html-files/erquinghem-lys-churchyard-extension.htm

Erquinghem.docx

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Heartbreaking

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German cemetery "Krähenberg" Breitenbach (Alsace-Lorraine)

After about 25 minutes of continuous way up from the newly constructed village of Breitenbach, one unexpectedly stands in front of the previously hidden cemetery. The cemetery is situated above the lovely Munster valley and offers a view on the former hard-fought Reichsackerkopf and the neighboring wooded heights. ...

The cemetery is remotely located just below the summit of Krähenberg, surrounded by both high and young forest stands. The usual wooden crosses stand in long rows on the bare, but clean graves. At the highest point of the cemetery – close to the forest - there is a high wooden cross with many wreaths lying at its base. From this place you have a nice view to the hills and valleys opposite of the cemetery. On many graves you can still find the grave stones that faithful companions or relatives have put there for the slumbering. The individual graves are framed by stones and are situated in terraces above each other.

Thank you for the extract, Christine. The writer describes the setting perfectly, as you'll see from the two postcards which follow. Today you reach the cemetery up a long narrow mountain road which gradually becomes rougher and you hope you don't meet anyone on the way. Eventually you see the beginning of a spread of black crosses through the trees and then the track opens out into a tranquil, more gentle setting, with mountain pastures opposite the cemetery. It now contains the dead of the two World Wars: 3528 men. The cemetery includes original headstones which I have photographed.

The village of Breitenbach was rebuilt after the Great War.

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Breitenbach cemetery now (June 2015):

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post-16-0-24573700-1450096340_thumb.jpg

All cards and photos mine.

Gwyn

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Excellent photographs of the original sites.

I am now wondering if there are any early

photographs of Consenvoye or Servon Melzicourt cemeteries. ?

Martin

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