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AliceF

German cemeteries in France

532 posts in this topic

Greetings Christine,

Just go back to your original post and change the title to "German Cemeteries in France and Belgium".

Yes I am happy to hear anything about Consenvoye. To me visiting in 2015 it was a beautiful tranquil spot with lovely views of the Meuse river. It just did not appear to have any reason to be there. But looking at the trench maps for the area the site was exactly on battlefield trench system.

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Do have a merry Christmas.
Martin

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Martin, here some of the descriptions from VDK on Consenvoye:

Consenvoye (from VDK)

05/31/1920 : graves in good condition, edges [kerb?] with stones, inscriptions still largely legible.

January 1923: In the military cemetery many German unknown. All war graves are maintained by the municipality with the same care.

April 1925: Photographs can be made [on request].

1925: The cemetery is well maintained.

1926 (6): The recently completed cemetery at Consenvoye has 2100 individual graves and in an Ossuaire 2220 unknown. The enclosure is made of wire fence between iron bars, the hedge must be renewed. Wide middle path with graves in long rows to the right and left. Along the road there are some trees of life [arbor vitae]; most of the ground is still bare, but well maintained cemetery on stony ground. The paths are still to be covered with grass and trees will be planted in the background. In the Ossuaire rest the unknown soldiers which were secured from the tunnel at the "Toten Mann”.

1927 (7): Consenvoye (Meuse) 13 kms southeast Dun. At a newly built road leading to Verdun, is the German military cemetery of Consenvoye. Also here the usual black wooden crosses with white inscription mark the graves. 2177 identified German soldiers rest in individual graves in long rows and 2220 unknown fallen are re-buried in a mass grave. The soil is rich in lime, so that the whole area is dotted with smaller and larger lime stones. The plan of the authorities to sow grass on the cemetery has not been carried out yet. The cemetery is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, scattered along the fence, there are some small trees of life and firs, which have difficulties to grow due to the poor soil conditions. Between the road and the edge of the cemetery there is a small, ditch overgrown by weeds. On the cemetery can also be found two artillery guns [? Geschütze] as a symbol of the battles that took place.

Christine

Consenvoye_2.docx

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A photo from the German cemetery in Cambrai from 1924.
Christine

Foto_Cambrai_1.pdf

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That sounds fascinating. I may trouble them for a copy and send a few euro for the flowers for the unknown.

Thanks for sharing Christine.

Dave

I sent an email to them and also received a cd just before christmas , just need to brush up on my German.

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Great that it worked! Well regarding the German: even if I am a native German speaker – this language is quite unusual for me. I understand it, but I am really not used to the vocabulary, both because of the topic and because these are almost 100 year old texts. But I find them quite fascinating. And the photos! I really hope posting them here is not breaking any copyright rules.
Christine

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“A visit to the war graves in Belgium and France.

The long-cherished wish to visit the graves of our two boys in Belgium and France was fulfilled during the Easter holidays in 1927. In possession of a passport with a Belgian and French visa (for its quick provision we are particularly grateful to the board of the district branch of the Nassau VDK in Frankfurt) my wife and I went from Marburg via Giessen, Cologne, Ostend, and after a short stay there via Thourout to Roeselare. We would like to advise anyone who wants to stay several days in Flanders to choose Roeselare as place for accommodation. Firstly, you can with different trains reach the combat zones easily and secondly, the small towns of Flanders are not yet prepared for tourism. The new Flanders makes a very friendly impression. The population is very complaisant, and everyone is ready to help strangers with advice and support. Everywhere you can still see the traces of the Great War, the houses riddled with bullets, countless concrete shelters in the fields will probably witness for many years of the long trench warfare. When cultivating the fields, grenades and bullet parts are found, collected and piled along the road.

Our first destination was the cemetery "In de Ster"* between Zonnebeke and Becelaere on which our oldest boy is resting. He set out full of enthusiasm with the Reserve-Jäger-Bataillon 24, but he died already in the first battle at the Keiberg (20th Oct. 1914). The grave is soon found, a dear colleague at the grave department had surrounded it with concrete on our request during the war. The beautiful cross has been destroyed by a grenade during the retreat. When decorating the grave, we still find a piece of the cross and a part of a bullet, and take both with us back home.“

VDK, 1927, Nr. 6

* I think this cemetery has been moved later.

Christine

Ein Besuch der Kriegsgräber in Belgien und Frankreich_1.docx

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Christine,

'In de Ster' remained until 1955. 64 French and 55 British soldiers were originally buried there by the Germans when it was created in 1915-1916.

Jan

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I sent an email to them and also received a cd just before christmas , just need to brush up on my German.

Thanks Chas,

Dave

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Thanks Jan. Interesting to hear that the graves were moved in the 1950ies - I guess to Menen?

Continuation:

"[...] After four days in Belgium, we took farewell of the grave of our boy and went to Halluin, where we visit the grave of a friend on a war cemetery, that was managed by a caretaker. We went further on to Lille, and then via Reims and Chalons sur Marne to St Dizier. There the young life of our second boy ended shortly after he was taken as a prisoner by the French at Verdun.

In the public cemetery "De la Noue" * of this town of 18,000 inhabitants rest 215 German soldiers who have been taken in French captivity in Verdun and died in the hospital of St Dizier. The graves are maintained by an invalid as well as the stony ground allows. Every grave mound was planted with three rows of carnation, however, they thrived badly. The crosses are mostly black and provided with a number. On special request, the city administration also places white crosses with inscription. It was a great relief to see that the graves of friends and enemies are treated in the same way. On some of the crosses hung the pearl wreaths [German: Perlkranz] ordered by the Volksbund. The task given to me by the Volksbund to determine a number of burial sites could be carried out. Also a bronze plate was attached to the cross of a Oberleutnant. Unfortunately it was not possible to obtain the final grave list of this cemetery, because after negotiations with the city council also the approval of the Prefect of the Department had to be obtained, and he could not be reached by telephone. The population is friendly and accommodating.”

VDK 1927, Nr. 6

* I think also the German graves of this cemetery were moved later.

Christine

Ein Besuch der Kriegsgräber in Belgien und Frankreich_2.docx

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Happy New year Christine,

Very powerful stories coming off that Disc.

Some distance the parents were travelling too.

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Just ordered a copy.

There is amazing amount of info - I see a very interesting mention in the index of international German war graves (also mentions moving of graves):

Foto Kranzniederlegung auf deutschen Kriegsgräbern in irland durch den Gesandten Dr. Katzenberger, 13.11.1951; Umbettungen, 1959; Einweihung Glencree, 9.7.1961

(Photo of the wreath-laying ceremony at the German Cemetery in Ireland by the ambassador Dr. Katzenberger , 11.13.1951 ; Reburials , 1959; Inauguration Glencree , 07/09/1961)

This little-known cemetery in Wicklow is a beautiful place to visit.

Dave

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Continuation:

“After two days we left St Dizier and went to Verdun. We wanted to visit some of the cemeteries in the Meuse valley and get to know the landscape in which our boy was taken as prisoner. We travelled by car and passed Samogneux, Beaumont and the height 344. In Beaumont there are still no houses [repaired/rebuilt] and in Samogneux only a few; everywhere there are traces of the terrible fighting and the terrain is full of craters.

We stop at Consenvoye cemetery, a burial ground with innumerable black crosses. We are looking for friends and find at last, with the help of a list from the cemetery caretaker, the grave with the mutilated name of our cousin. A shocking impression gives the large mass grave with 20,000 Germans, a more than 100 meter long pile of stones without any decoration. Efforts need to be taken to set the cemeteries in France in a worthy condition. As it is just now, it cannot remain.

About 10km away is the cemetery Vilosnes, which was established by German troops and which gives a better impression. We decorate the grave of our friend here with some flowers and take a photograph, which will be a comfort for the mother, who has been sick for years. The train Verdun-Sedan takes us through the Meuse valley passing the cemetery in Brieulles. Then we travel via Koblenz back home.

H.W. Marburg/Lahn“

VDK 1927, No. 6

Christine

Ein Besuch der Kriegsgräber in Belgien und Frankreich_3.docx

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Very interesting - Consenvoye is now a most tranquil scene and has splendid views over the surrounding countryside and evidently a reason to establish the original trench line there in 1914. However I don't think the mass grave held so many soldiers. there are just over 11,000 souls on site at present. ( Or so the sign says at the entry)

Auf diesem soldatenfriedhof ruhen 11148 Deutsche soldaten 1914 - 1918

just out of interest does the article name the soldier refereed to, at Consenvoye, in your above record ?

Here is a photograph from May 2015. You can see the Meuse river just above the van.

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Hi Martin,

yes you are right - it cannot be 20,000 German soldiers in the mass grave (but I checked the original text, so it was not a transcription mistake from my side). The figures from the VDK today are about 2500 soldiers buried in mass graves (of a total of about 11.000). So your figures are correct. Photos of the mass grave can be seen in the attachment on Consenvoye in post 55.

The authors of the texts I post are all anonymous. And never any names of buried soldiers are given. So not possible to trace any of those.

And thanks for your photo!

Christine

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Christine, a true signature thread on GWF.

I ordered my CD from Oman and when I got home after 4 days it was already sitting in the mail box. It pays to be a contributing member of VdK! And it is all for a noble cause.

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Welcome home!

And I guess you will spend quite some time with the member journals now.

Christine

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Moved here from the thread on Gustav Gehrt:

On Maissemy:

“More than 31 000 German soldiers are buried in the Military Cemetery Maissemy. In many cases they were reburied from German cemeteries established by German troops. 15, 379 rest in individual graves. The cemetery is located on a barren height, which is slowly rising. From the entrance it is not possible to overview the entire huge burial ground. At the top, in the middle of the cemetery there are two mass graves surrounded by red brick walls. In front of these there are uncountable, long lines of simple black wooden crosses with white inscriptions of name, rank and regiment of the dead. The individual graves have 3m wide and about 40cm high beds, which are separated by wide paths. Here, as in Neuville St. Vaast the white ground shines from a far distance.

The cemetery has been newly created by the French authorities. Soldiers were reburied here from a very large area, which reaches far into the Department Somme. In the following list of places from which reburials have taken place to Maissemy the letter A after the place name stands for Aisne and S for Somme .
Considering such extensive reburials, you can imagine that the soldiers who rest here belonged to a large number of different regiments. It would take too long to name all the regimental units, whose members found their final resting place here.”

VDK, 1928 (4)

Christine

Maissemy_1_German.docx

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Part 2 on Maissemy:

“The first sight of this extremely large number of black crosses on the barren whit ground gives quite a shocking impression. However, those who will visit the cemetery Maissemy this year will be surprised about its changed appearance. The brick walls which have been built by French authorities and which surround the huge mass graves (85 m long, 6 m wide – overcoming height differences by terracing) will be edged with a beautiful hedge of wild roses. This will not only cover the unsightly brick walls, but also give the mass graves a special appearance, since they also will be planted with low growing wild roses. […]The cemetery is surrounded by a hawthorn hedge and trees planted in several rows [...].The entrance can be reached through a staircase with several steps. At the end of the mid-pathway a monumental cross is planned.

Enormous ground movements had to be made to obtain good soils for the plantings. [...]. 900 maples and elm trees and 7700 rosebushes will make this large cemetery extraordinary atmospheric in the foreseeable future. [...] All towns and municipalities of the Rhenish-Westphalian industrial area participated in financing the overhaul of this enormous military cemetery.”

VDK, 1928 (4)

Christine

The photo from VDK 1928 (4) showing one of the mass graves

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Maissemy_2_German.docx

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And here the list of the place names of the places/municipalities from which remains of German soldiers were moved to Maissemy - according to VDK 1928 (4). I made also a map - not sure if it works (could not locate the farms on the list besides of one).

Christine

Maissemy_place list.docx

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Christine,

Thank you for this thread. You have put a lot of work into it and it is extremely interesting.

I cannot read a word of German, so your translations are invaluable.

Phil

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Thank you Phil! I know that the translations are far from being perfect.

However, they fulfill their purpose if they make some information accessible, which otherwise would be not.
Christine

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Can I also echo Phils comments...... this is a valuable if not unique thread.

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Thank you for your kind comments!

Today a description of a travel to Maissemy from 1930 – here part 1:

A car ride from Chemnitz to the war cemeteries of Quesnoy-sur-Deûle and Maissemy

After years of longing finally our wishes have come true in June this year. With joyful and yet anxious feelings I started the journey together with my son on Sunday 15th of June - with anxious feelings because I did not know how we would find the graves of our loved ones. I hope not to bore you when I report briefly and truly about our experiences, what we saw and what we felt. I like to do this, because I can experience all the beauty of it again.

We drove by car via Gera, Jena Weimar, Eisenach , Fulda and Weilburg an der Lahn, Koblenz, Cochem on the Mosel, Aachen [ here the car is left behind, the onward journey is done by train] to Brussels, where we arrived safely on Wednesday evening. [Hereafter follows a brief description of the stay in Brussels and then a detailed one of the visit of Quesnoy-sur-Deûle].

I must emphasise that I had quite mixed feelings about the onward journey, since our next destination was the cemetery Maissemy with well over 20,000 individual graves and a large common grave, a huge cemetery compared to the small cemetery in Quesnoy. I was worried, how will we perceive this place?

At 10 o’clock [in the evening] we arrived at St. Quentin. With the friendly help of the railway official we found easily the recommended accommodation, where we were in good hands. In the morning we took a rental car to the cemetery of Maissemy (patron [?] of the cemetery is the Volksbund´s district branch of the Ruhr area). We passed the French and British cemeteries which were in a wonderful state.”

VDK, 1930 (10)

Christine

Maissemy_1930_German_1.docx

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Second part of the above journey:

"After a drive of half an hour we saw many, many crosses on a hill. A few moments later we stopped and gave the driver instructions to wait for us. Then we entered the cemetery. We had already bought some geraniums in St. Quentin assuming that there perhaps might be no possibility to buy something at the cemetery. We had done right.

There is probably hardly a word in German to express what one feels at the sight of so many crosses.Our expectations were by far exceeded. We found the cemetery in an exemplary state, six caretakers are occupied all the year: all paths and graves were flawlessly neat and in particular the arrangement of the crosses exemplary [also in German I am not sure what is meant here, but there are descriptions of other cemeteries where crosses are leaning or fallen over – so this is not the case here]. The caretaker was helpful in every way and promised me to water the planted flowers. Especially beautiful are the collective graves in Maissemy. There are situated right in the middle of the cemetery and are densely planted with dog-roses which are about a meter high. All pathways are edged by trees.

We stopped only a few hours at the cemetery and returned afterwards to St. Quentin. From there we went to Paris, where we stayed two days. Back in Aachen waited our own car, which brought us back to the beautiful German Rhine and Main.

H. Sch. Chemnitz“

VDK 1930, 10

Christine

Maissemy_1930_German_2.docx

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