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AliceF

German cemeteries in France

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Hi Martin,

There's one here from 1920 (Consenvoye), I think it's the German one.

http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-and-institutions/museum-europaeischer-kulturen/exhibitions/ausstellung-detail/der-gefuehlte-krieg.html

It's the second photo on the frame

Steve

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Greetings Steve, and thanks.

That link to the old photo at Consenvoye helps explain why there are 4 names on the present day metal Grave marker Crosses.

So it would appear in 1920 they all had their own wooden cross. Save for the mass graves which are at the top of the incline.

And in the 70's when they replaced those with one cross per 4 burials.

Here is the present view.

post-103138-0-91703100-1450104239_thumb.

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Roel, I found something more on Kemmel – these short notes. Probably only a confirmation of what you already know. I would be interested where this German cemetery Kleine Vierstraat was located. Do you know?

“Kemmel (West Flanders). The area has suffered greatly from the fighting in the summer of 1918. Many fallen could not be buried. In many graves are unidentified soldiers. One cemetery is situated between Kleine Vierstraat and Dickebusch; many soldiers are buried here in mass graves. After the war most of the German soldiers were transferred to Meesen. There are many German graves also in the cemetery at the road from Kemmel to Clytte.

Kleine Vierstraat (West Flanders). See the report under Kemmel.”

“Voormezeele near Ypres (West Flanders). In the cemetery at the farm Brouwery at the road from Ypres to Kemmel there still stand 18 grave crosses; many crosses are missing or have decayed. Most of the inscriptions have disappeared. The area has suffered from the fighting.”

VDK 1922, No 10

Christine

Kemmel_1922.docx

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Steve, I found a photo (unfortunately not so good quality) of Jehonville.

Not sure if this in your area of interest, but see attachment.

Christine

Jehonville.pdf

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Martin, there is quite a lot on Consenvoy and also on Servon, which I have not checked yet.

(The system I am working with is quite slow - takes often a couple of minute to open a file - and the only PC I can get the DVD working on is the PC of my daughter...)

The earliest photographs that I found are form the 1930ies. And here the photos and the text and the purpose with the text have already changed compared to the early 1920. I try to post them in the attachment (I don't know why I do not manage to post pictures directly like anyone else....) Well, it seems I used up my space - so Servon will com later.

Christine

Consenvoy.pdf

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Many thanks Christine (sorry for calling you Alice !),

There is no cemetery today in Jehonville so it was either closed following concentration/repatriation of the bodies or the photo refers to the nearby cemetery on the road from Bertrix to Luchy (on the other side of the airfield from Jehonville (there is another cemetery in the forest to the north east, on the road from Framont to Anloy)

Steve

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Roel, I found something more on Kemmel – these short notes. Probably only a confirmation of what you already know. I would be interested where this German cemetery Kleine Vierstraat was located. Do you know?

“Kemmel (West Flanders). The area has suffered greatly from the fighting in the summer of 1918. Many fallen could not be buried. In many graves are unidentified soldiers. One cemetery is situated between Kleine Vierstraat and Dickebusch; many soldiers are buried here in mass graves. After the war most of the German soldiers were transferred to Meesen. There are many German graves also in the cemetery at the road from Kemmel to Clytte.

Kleine Vierstraat (West Flanders). See the report under Kemmel.”

Christine, Kleine Vierstraat German Cemetery may very well be where my great-grandfather was buried 14 may 1918. According to the German Kriegsministerium he was buried near Kleine Vierstraat. Unfortunately nothing is known of a German cemetery near that spot (apart from Germans buried at Kemmel no. 1 French cemetery).

Until forum member Aurel Sercu found a German map, from july 1918. It showed spot (in the red circle), with "Friedhof" (cemetery) written next to it on the original map. This makes it a very likely spot for Kleine Vierstraat Cemetery. It was right next to a trench, which in july 1918 was in German hands. Later I received an aerial made in the same month, which clearly showed a part of the trench had dissapeared. Therefore I think Kleine Vierstraat Cemetery is nothing more than a disused part of a trench, used for mass burials (my great-grandfather was buried by his best friend, who claimed he buried him in a mass grave).

Several years ago I interviewed the owner of the land where the trench used to be. He had lived there since early 1920 and new nothing about German (mass)graves found on his land. Your source says Kleine Vierstraat Cemetery is between Kleine Vierstraat and Dickebusch. The Germans never got any further than Kleine Vierstraat, so the "Friedhof" marked on the map below may be a serious candidate to be Kleine Vierstraat Cemetery (and even still be there, when the farmer is correct).

Roel

post-5443-0-98782900-1450127045_thumb.jp

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Thanks Christie,

There are now several interesting topics coming together.

post-103138-0-97726500-1450128989_thumb.

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Thanks for the info and the overlay! To find the locations of these removed cemeteries is not so easy all the time.

Do not know if Jehonville is a removed one as well or not (no problem with Alice - Steve - it is my grandfmother's).

Well, I found an aerial photograph of the area Kleine Vierstraat , maybe the one you mentioned Roel.

But I can not recognize anything.http://www.delcampe.net/page/item/id,0188925669,language,S.html

Any overlay possible?

Christine

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Nice overlay, Martin.

Here's the july 1918-aerial I was referring to. My explanation:

The green circle is where Aurel placed the German cemetery.

This is near/in the trench, running from north to south: in july 1918 occupied by the Germans.

The road running from east to west is Vierstraat. The ground next to the road (between the green circle and Kleine Vierstraat) looks as if many men have been walking there.

There's a reason for that: at the green circle the road runs lower than the farmland. Making it hard to enter the trench at that spot.

This means a small part of the trench (between the road and the spot where the Germans entered the trench) became disused.

In may 1918 this trench was the German frontline. With British/French troops nearby it was impossible to make a "normal" cemetery here. The only spot where men could be buried safely was IN the trench. The part in the green circle appears to be a bit darker than the rest of the trench. Because by then it was filled in?

Roel

post-5443-0-71401100-1450137977_thumb.jp

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That fits nice and snug on Google Earth.

post-103138-0-37689800-1450174234_thumb.

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This is the street view image at the location of the green circle looking towards Kemmel No1. ( You can see the white memorial cross in the inset image ) The rise in ground level is as you describe.

post-103138-0-12244800-1450175043_thumb.

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Thanks for the Streetview-image, Martin. The exact spot where the trench was is a bit more to the left, where the rise in ground level is slightly higher.

I've checked the document of the German Kriegsministerium I referred to in post #57, about where my gr-grandfather was buried. It reads:

"Southwest of Kleine Vierstraat, between Hill 44 and 47" (see map below: green=hills 44 and 47, red is burial site).

post-5443-0-37128200-1450176320_thumb.jp

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Very interesting to see which sources can be found!

Today a different type of text (which does not reveal the type of relation between the author of the text and the fallen soldier).

“About the possibilities and costs of repatriation of a fallen soldier from the Western Front [to Germany]

[...] Precondition for repatriation is the doubtless ascertainment of the existence and location of the grave. For this purpose I personally visited the cemetery in advance and went back to France again eight weeks later after having obtained the permit for repatriation. [...]. After being ensured about the existence of the grave beyond all doubts, one requests the permit for exhumation and repatriation of the fallen at one’s own expense at the Central Office of [? Zentralnachweisamt]. In my case, I received the permit after six weeks, as follows: 1. Permit of the Central Office, 2. Laissez - Passer (death certificate), 3. Authorization de Transport par Voie Ferree du corps d'un militaire (transport permit for military corpse by rail). The latter two certificates are issued in the Pension Department [ ! ] in Paris. [...]

With the money, passport and 3 German and French licenses plus the death certificate from the civil registry (do not forget!) I went first to Berlin. There I got a Belgian transit visa at the Belgian Consulate in Jägerstrasse 53, which I got immediately for 4 Belgian francs. 11.22 clock at noon I left Berlin with the Warsaw-Paris Express and reached Lille via Brussels next afternoon. I had been recommended by the German Embassy in Paris to get help of an undertaker. I thought it advisable to follow this suggestion and went in Lille to the Pompes Funèbres Générales. I can recommend this firm of undertakers, distributed in the whole of France with the headquarters in Paris, Boulevard Richard Lenoir in Paris. The mortician and I went to the barracks to the French grave officer. According to regulations of the Pension Department, the exhumation must be carried out in the presence of this grave officer [...]. After selection of an oak coffin with zinc deposit at the funeral home, I went to the hotel.”

To be continued.

Christine

Ueberfuehrung_1.docx

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“At noon the next day I was picked up by the hearse. [...] Then we met the officer and drove together to Laventie 37 km away. After our arrival, the wardens of the cemetery immediately began the exhumation. Within an hour the perfectly preserved coffin from July 1918 was lifted, and was placed next to the new one. I identified undoubtedly the corpse by a known wounding and the identification tag. With the help of a rubber blanket the corpse was then moved into the new coffin, which was then soldered and sealed by the chauffeur of the car. After this the officer handed me over the Mise en bière (the certificate of the correct placement of remains in a coffin).

The corpse remained overnight in the car and was in my presence loaded into a railway wagon in Lille the next morning. Before that the undertakers had filled in the carriage note and the custom declaration in triplicate. At the last moment the Belgian consul in Lille denied the passage through Belgium, so I had no other choice than to go via Strasbourg, where I arrived the next day at noon. Against my wishes and despite good tips the wagon was connected to a scheduled passenger train not before 10.35 o’clock in the evening. The train took me in about 30 minutes to Kehl/Rhine. Here is the transit station between French and German railways. Since both the German and the French customs authorities refused clearance that evening, I went tired to a hotel.”

To be continued.

Christine

Ueberfuehrung_2.docx

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......Before that the undertakers had filled in the carriage note and the custom declaration in triplicate. At the last moment the Belgian consul in Lille denied the passage through Belgium, ......

Christine

I bet the consul never fought in the trenches but was a mastermind at the champagne party front in Belgium

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I bet the consul never fought in the trenches but was a mastermind at the champagne party front in Belgium

Egbert,

He probably thought they would ignore the Belgian response anyway :thumbsup:

Steve

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“Early next morning I settled first the French customs and railway clearance, and then the German ones. The latter [German!] allowed the onward transportation only if a German death certificate [Leichenpass, passport for a corpse???] would be provided! The French documents were not sufficient! To obtain this I went to the local administration in Kehl, where I received a German death certificate for 13 Mark on the basis of the French documents. At 12.20 o’clock at noon the wagon was luckily connected to a passenger train; before that I had decorated the coffin with a laurel wreath. Traveling via Frankfurt I arrived next evening at 7.45 o’ clock in Leipzig. Here was three days later the solemn burial taking place […].

That was with a few words, the sober description of the transfer; the limited space forbids me to describe the numerous physical and mental efforts that I've been through. […]

E.G. Leipzig“

in VDK 1925_1

This text continues with a summary of all expenses, which ended up with 1000 Mark. The writer made a formal complaint about the 13 Mark he had to pay for the German death certificate, and was refunded this sum, because the corpse was a German soldier fallen during the war.

The Volksbund commented at the end of the text that they were happy to print this objective description, but principally support that fallen soldiers remain at their foreign burial places and that repatriation should only happen in exceptional cases.

Christine

Ueberfuehrung_3.docx

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That was interesting. So this is what Kurt Thielickes father encountered when he brought back my Great uncle Kurt from Bertincourt to Magdeburg.(see Kurt Thielicke link in my signature)

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Yes, this is something I could not imagine. I am not sure anymore what I had in mind when I read that soldiers were reburied in Germany. But definitely not this: taking part in the identification yourself and travelling by train with the coffin in a wagon behind you. Well, that must be very special to have a relative, who was reburied in Germany.

Christine

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Yes, this is something I could not imagine. I am not sure anymore what I had in mind when I read that soldiers were reburied in Germany. But definitely not this: taking part in the identification yourself and travelling by train with the coffin in a wagon behind you. Well, that must be very special to have a relative, who was reburied in Germany.

Christine

Christine,

This was also one of the conditions during the war. A close relative had to be present at the exhumation and personally identify the deceased.

At those times, people looked at death a bit differently. Most deceased were lied in state in their houses until the burial.

Jan

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The piece certainly brings home the tremendous difficulties that had to be overcome to repatriate the bodies of loved ones, it will also have been a very expensive process from the description given. It must have been particularly heart-breaking for those who wanted to bring their loved ones home but lacked the means to do so. It reinforces (to me anyway) the benefits of the more egalitarian decision taken by the British during the war, to leave all bodies in military graves near where they fell.

Steve

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Christine,

This was also one of the conditions during the war. A close relative had to be present at the exhumation and personally identify the deceased.

At those times, people looked at death a bit differently. Most deceased were lied in state in their houses until the burial.

Jan

A traumatic experience for the close relative I would imagine. There is a big difference between a body disfigured by battlefield wounds and having been buried for a length of time and a recent death through old age or illness. It doesn't really bear thinking about.

Charlie

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Thanks for all comments!

Jan, good to be reminded that things were seen differently at that time. Knowing that you have to do the identification yourself after several years would probably make 99.9% of the people today not to carry through a repatriation. I know that you have a long experience with these issues and have being working on topics as exhumation. Reading about this for the first time was quite shocking for me. I have a colleague here in Sweden, who has a distant relative working with exhumations of Germans in Russia (nowadays) – but probably a WW2 issue, so I will not proceed with this here – but I never dared to ask any details.

Christine

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Martin, I found something on Consevoy (some of these shorter, factual notes), are you interested or was it photos you were after?

Anyway I found a longer travel story on Belgium (I know I am now contradictorily to the title of this thread) and France including Consevoy from 1927. Written by somebody form my home town Marburg in Germany. It's long but I try to post it after the Christmas holidays.

Christine

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