Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Nothing is just black or white

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Wisely our guide Patrick, took us to look at different perspective of the Great War in the Ypres area, we visited Langemark cemetery one of only four  German cemeteries in Flanders area. I’m glad he did. 

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Below is the main entrance, the style is very different to the Commonwealth War Graves sites, it has a completely different atmosphere, but then how we remember our dead, varies from one end of the country to the other, let alone another country and a very different set of circumstances.  The white stone of the British and Commonwealth cemeteries is an obvious difference to the dark stone of the German. 

Langemarck 11

Although to my mind British and Commonwealth War Graves, and this German cemetery have a common theme, its a sense of enclosure,  that goes a little way to bring  the unimaginable enormity of this carnage (over 44,000 burials here) into, a place, however symbolic, that provides a sense, that is somehow, protective and embracing.

The  tablet shaped stones bear the names of many, we counted seventeen on one.


Langemarck 5

Inside one of the two chambers at the entrance to the cemetery engraved in oak are the names of the men who are known to be buried here, but their grave is not identifiable, each day the rise and fall of the sun arcs  light across them.

Langemarck 8

The cemetery is planted, with oaks, a  German symbol of strength ( remember there are no trees here that pre date the Great War, they were all destroyed by shelling and gun fire, these oaks are 80 years old)

Langemarck 13

There is a wreath made of bronze oak leaves, mother nature slipped her own oak leaves in amongst the castings

  Langemarck 9 leaf wreath

A visitor had left a poppy,

Langemarck 7

the  German flower of remembrance is a corn flower,  Patrick told us more British and Commonwealth visitors come here than German. Whilst  we were there, there were several British school parties, I’m so pleased about this, its so important, and government funding is available for schools to visit.

There is a striking bronze sculpture of grieving soldiers

Langemarck 4

They look out over an area of grass, an area not as big as a tennis court, this is the communal grave for 25,000 soldiers, yes twenty five thousand,

Langemarck 12

the names of only half of them are known.  This small patch of grass, contains the equivalent of the population of our nearest market town. I stood and thought about this for sometime,

   German wreath 

Patrick pointed out a gateway too us

Langemarck 3

And  then showed us a photo of Hitler, walking through the gate in June 1940. Chilling, how, why?

  Langemarck 10 Hitler

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Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

4 thoughts on “Nothing is just black or white

  1. Wow. 25,000 men within the space of a tennis court. Sobering. I am fascinated by cemeteries in different cultures. We visited an Austrian cemetery, and were amazed at the differences in honoring the soldiers there. What is the proper way to honor a person who fought for the losing side in a war almost universally seen as a just war against an evil leader?

    • Like wise chlost, I’m often to be found, with the war graves, it started when we visited Orkney last year, each church yard had a plaque, with the number of war graves inscribed on it, and I felt compelled to try and find them, in part because they were ‘so far away from home’ and not through choice.

  2. Thanks for another really interesting post and good pictures. I remember visiting this cemetery many years ago, and have never forgotten the impact it had on me. xx

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