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A Duty Nobly Done — Anselm and Margriet in Flanders and Picardy

A Duty Nobly Done — Anselm and Margriet in Flanders and Picardy

Old Aug 14th, 2009, 02:37 AM
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These are fine pictures, Anselm, well worth the wait. I particularly liked your photos of Langemarck, the "Brooding soldier", and Vimy in the mist.
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 05:30 AM
  #82  
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nukesafe, I took that photo (the graves of Jewish soldiers in the German cemetery) for my daughter, who was writing a paper on Germany in the 1920s. If I recollect properly, she had referred to a census conducted during the First War that showed that the percentage of German Jews in active combat exceeded their proportion of the total German population. I am pretty sure I subsequently saw a reference to the same data in <i>The Coming of the Third Reich</i> by Richard Evans, but I can't find a reference in the index.

laverendrye, thanks. I found Langemark (my Michelin map spells it without a "c", but I am never sure how anything is spelled in Belgium) one of the most striking places I have ever been. German cemeteries have a very different feel than French and Commonwealth burial grounds. I still find myself thinking about that mass grave and the remains of 25,000 men in a very small patch of ground.

AA
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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Anselm

I have visited several German war cemeteries in France and Belgium and I too find that they have a very different feel. They seem to me to be dark, brooding places.

I don't know whether you visited Vladslo German cemetery near Dixsmuide, but it contains a pair of statues, "The Grieving Parents", by the German sculptress Kaethe Kollwitz, whose son is buried there. It is very moving.

On her last visit to her son's grave, she wrote:

"We went from the figures to Peter's grave, and everything was alive and wholly felt. I stood before the woman, looked at her – my own face – and I wept and stroked her cheeks. Karl stood close behind me – I did not even realize it. I heard him whisper, ‘Yes, yes’. How close we were to one another then!"
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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Anselm, thanks for posting the photos. Very melancholic.
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 09:15 AM
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On the subject of Langemark, my guide told us that the Germans are buried 7 or 8 deep in each plot quite simply because after the war the Belgians would not let them have any more land for the cemetery.

It is indeed a dark and brooding place.
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 12:36 PM
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German military tombstones are very sad, especially when you compare them to the pure white crosses or stars of the American military cemeteries. French military cemeteries are in between those two.
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 01:35 PM
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Thank you so much, Anselm. These photos were truly worth the wait. EJ
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 02:07 PM
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Thanks from me too Ansel. A few years ago I also visited Langemark. It was a freezing cold, dark, wet day and what is still in my mind is the four statues your photographs so beautifully show. Their bleakness added so much to how we all felt on that visit. We arrived there just after a visit to Tyne Cot and the contrast was so great.

Our guide gave us some interesting titbits of information. I’m not sure if they are historically accurate though. He let us know that the war cemeteries were gifted by Belgium to the allied countries but not Langemark or any other German cemetery. They had to pay. I also recall him mentioning that the reason there were so few headstones and only communal graves in the cemetery was due to the Germans believing that when alive its soldiers fought together therefore, when slain, they lay together.

Joe
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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Thanks for the comments.

I'm going to see if I can find out a bit more about the history of German military cemeteries in Belgium. When we were in Langemark we overheard a guide explaining that the mass grave had been created and filled after WWII, a relocation of remains that was precipitated by the refusal of the Belgian government to renew leases for several other German cemeteries in Belgium. It's certainly worth tracking down the exact sequence of events.

On another note, I found a contempory photo of Sausage Valley, the place where Harry was killed. This picture was taken 18 days after his death:

http://cas.awm.gov.au/photograph/EZ0113

AA
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Old Aug 14th, 2009, 11:04 PM
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Anselm: I must heartily agree with others that the photos taken by the two of you are truly stunning. You have captured some of the essence of your travels in those photos. Thank you for taking the time to share.

tC
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Old Aug 15th, 2009, 08:02 AM
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Anselm, thank you for the lovely, sad images. By the time I neared the last of them, tears were flowing. Have you considered creating a book with your images and Harry's letters and your reflections.
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Old Aug 15th, 2009, 08:41 AM
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Oh, PLEASE do a book! Include the essence of both this, and your "Dead man's neck--" post. I'd certainly buy it, as well as go on a tour that would cover these historic and tragic areas.

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Old Aug 15th, 2009, 10:57 AM
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I agree with all the others--very affecting, beautiful photos. Thanks!
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Old Apr 30th, 2012, 09:08 PM
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This is a wonderful report by AnselmAdorne from several years ago. Topping it for my reference, as I'm starting to plan a similar trip to visit the military cemeteries in Flanders and Picardy.
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Old Nov 11th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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Topping again for re-reading.
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Old Nov 13th, 2012, 05:31 PM
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One of my all time favorite reports!
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Old Jul 2nd, 2013, 09:23 PM
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So happy to 'top' this again...wonderful!
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Old Dec 26th, 2014, 02:32 PM
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And topping again, for those who haven't read this lovely trip report.
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