Monday, August 15, 2011

“The soldier’s graves are the greatest preachers of peace” Albert Schweitzer

Strange but true – I like visiting cemeteries, especially military cemeteries. Ask my students – I always tell them that Arlington is my favorite stop on our DC trip. My post on the American cemetery in Normandy will be lengthy, and I also visited a British Cemetery this afternoon. This morning took me to someplace quite different – the German Military Cemetery in La Cambe.It was a bit eerie – perhaps due to the set up an aesthetics of the cemetery, or perhaps because I was the only person there – no other visitors, no cemetery personnel, just me.

The cemetery is set up with military precision, but it has such a different look, as you can probably judge form the pictures. Over 21,000 German soldiers remain at La Cambe, most of which falling in the span of D-day to August 20, 1944. The darker stones and sets of five crosses spaced evenly throughout the grounds set a dark tone, as did the towering cross in the middle with the mother and father figure. I wonder how many German nationals come to visit the cemetery. The cemetery was created in the late fifties, and to me it is a true statement of reconciliation between the people of France and those of Germany (well, at least West Germany when it was created). The site originally contained the bodies of American soldiers, but those have since been moved to the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. On the information plaque, it mentions that the grave sites commission, the Volksund, has top rely on donations for upkeep, and students from international European youth camps help take care of the site.

The site also makes a major statement toward peace with the Friedenspark, a peace garden that I visited briefly. Small trees were spaced out perfectly, while stele gave numbers of victims from war since the turn of the century and a few quotes about peace. I didn’t realize the size of the garden until I drove out of the area and realized it was still on my left.

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