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Remembered Today:

Recovering the bodies of the enemy


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19 minutes ago, egbert said:

Such a pity that this interesting genre of recovering of the fallen is hijacked by the stupid myth of mass burning Germans

 

   Then my apologies, as it was myself that mentioned it in passing- as a myth!!  There is no intention to divert away from the sensible topic in hand- From my point of view, I suspect strongly that there must have been de facto arrangements working along the line of the old Western Front but the recovery of German war dead by the British seems to lack documentation or first-hand accounts. 

    I wonder if you could add anything here, as you are in NRW?  It is a commonplace that formal German recovery was banned for quite a while  but  is there anything out there on whether German civilians were allowed into the Western Front area after the restoration of formal diplomatic relations (1920-1921???)  I must admit ignorance of which parts, whether any or all, of the old front line was off limits due to ordnance,etc-in the way of the Red Zones at Verdun. But regardless of the formal governmental situation vis a vis Germany and France, there must have been many German families  who wished to retrieve their family members.  Could there have been the odd situation where formal recovery by a German governmental organisation was not allowed but individual German families sought to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones? 

     A factor that does suggest that arrangements may have taken place is the reciprocal one of the recovery and concentration of British war graves in Germany into the big 4 concentration cemeteries- I believe there were over 6000 British graves in Germany from the Great War. Regardless of formal arrangements between governments, the ability of CWGC to work in Germany (regardless of Armistice or Versailles terms) does suggest some sort of tacit trade-off. 

 

 

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35 minutes ago, egbert said:

Such a pity that this interesting genre of recovering of the fallen is hijacked by the stupid myth of mass burning Germans

I agree - I for one am not interested in CF, but am interested in the line of the OP

And for clarity - in my recent post I was attempting a gentle, perhaps too gentle, steer away from Corpse Factories [CF] - though potential burning and cremation of some remains does still seem a valid line of enquiry in some areas.

A heck of a lot of time has been spent on looking at that CF myth and it is almost certain that less time has been spent, or less exposure to others here in english language of such research has occurred, on the more 'normal' dealing with dead combatants.

I look forward to seeing more discussion/evidence more readily released.

'AOK4' I/we look forward to your planned book(s) - an early release and, if possible, accessible in english please [unfortunately and embarrassingly english is my only language of any substance].

The Allied perspective of dealing with its own casualties certainly does seem to have had a lot more exposure through I/CWGC than that of dealing with those of its enemies as was the subject of the OP enquiry and the early part of the thread.

I look forward to more discussion/output on the line of the OP.

:-) M

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22 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

 It is a commonplace that formal German recovery was banned for quite a while  but  is there anything out there on whether German civilians were allowed into the Western Front area after the restoration of formal diplomatic relations (1920-1921???)  I must admit ignorance of which parts, whether any or all, of the old front line was off limits due to ordnance,etc-in the way of the Red Zones at Verdun. But regardless of the formal governmental situation vis a vis Germany and France, there must have been many German families  who wished to retrieve their family members.  Could there have been the odd situation where formal recovery by a German governmental organisation was not allowed but individual German families sought to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones? 

 

 

Hello,

 

I will answer about Belgium, as this is the country and situation which is best known to me (France had a completely different arrangement with Germany about its war graves).

 

A few answers. German civilians were allowed to go to the Western Front and Belgium even allowed families to repatriate their deceased (as long as the strict regulations about exhumation and transport of bodies were followed). These relatives were also allowed to visit graves and even to come to an agreement with the caretakers to have flowers laid and graves restored etc when this was paid by the German visitors. This is also how the Volksbund managed to get itself involved by acting as a middleman, even though there was the Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste in Berlin which was officially responsible for the war graves (but they couldn't do anything as official German visits were not allowed in Belgium). It was only in 1925/26 that this problem (official visits and the future maintenance of the graves) was solved when Belgium agreed to hand over the responsibility over the German war graves to the Germans. However, exhumation and reburial remained the responsibility of the Belgian war graves service (and was paid for by Belgium), but this was seen as a financially positive matter as Belgium only allowed a reduction of cemeteries (in total number of cemeteries, not necessarily in surface of some individual cemeteries), so reducing the need to rent the plots of land for cemeteries or reverting former cemeteries to plots which could be used again. In this agreement, repatriation of bodies was allowed. It is interesting to note that after WW2, when a new agreement was made between Belgium and Germany, this allowing of repatriation was again allowed (so it still is today), one of the reasons why all German individually identifiable dead have a single grave.

 

Repatriation of bodies was never a matter of any organisation but always of a family member, who had to pay for all expenses.

 

The agreement between Germany and Belgium in the 1920s also involved repatriation of all remaining Belgian bodies (POWs, civilian prisoners etc) from Germany.

 

Jan

 

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Just to give one example of a cemetery which was created by the IWGC. Broodseinde German cemetery Extension was created in the immediate aftermath of the war. There was already a German cemetery here, started in 1915, and its location at a crossroads and not far away from Tyne Cot Cemetery made it an ideal place to bury ("dump" would be a better word,  I think) German bodies found during the clearing of the battlefields. The attached pic shows how it looked like by the mid 1920s.

Other similar cemeteries (created purely by the IWGC and under their care until ca 1925) were at Oosttaverne (next to the British cemetery), close to Cryer Farm or near Jean Bart House (Langemark), where, surprisingly, the Germans discovered a British body when exhuming the cemetery to concentrate it to Langemark North ca 1930.

 

Jan

 

024 m20er00_Broodseinde Extension_Zonnebeke_01.jpg

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deutscherinfanteriest
22 hours ago, AOK4 said:

 

Fake, completely. I have a chapter on this in my planned books. I believe we have discussed this topic in this forum as well in the past.

 

Jan

 

Hello,as always really kind and exhaustive:thumbsup: Thank you


 
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deutscherinfanteriest
On 16/11/2020 at 14:58, tootrock said:

When the battlefields were being searched for the bodies of the missing after the war, what was the procedure when a German body was discovered?

Martin

 

On Europeana, I remember, on one hand, there are photos taken on the Marne in January 1915, by a French medic. It shows how German remains (unburied on the battlefield since September 1914) were recovered. I think, in my opinion, it happened for dead in forests (as shown in photographs), but soldiers fallen in valleys of Marne probably were recovered already after the battle.

 

On another hand, Germans in 1920 planned sometimes visits in Argonne to search fallen.

 

 

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2 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

 

   Then my apologies, as it was myself that mentioned it in passing- as a myth!!  There is no intention to divert away from the sensible topic in hand- From my point of view, I suspect strongly that there must have been de facto arrangements working along the line of the old Western Front but the recovery of German war dead by the British seems to lack documentation or first-hand accounts. 

    I wonder if you could add anything here, as you are in NRW?  It is a commonplace that formal German recovery was banned for quite a while  but  is there anything out there on whether German civilians were allowed into the Western Front area after the restoration of formal diplomatic relations (1920-1921???)  I must admit ignorance of which parts, whether any or all, of the old front line was off limits due to ordnance,etc-in the way of the Red Zones at Verdun. But regardless of the formal governmental situation vis a vis Germany and France, there must have been many German families  who wished to retrieve their family members.  Could there have been the odd situation where formal recovery by a German governmental organisation was not allowed but individual German families sought to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones? 

     A factor that does suggest that arrangements may have taken place is the reciprocal one of the recovery and concentration of British war graves in Germany into the big 4 concentration cemeteries- I believe there were over 6000 British graves in Germany from the Great War. Regardless of formal arrangements between governments, the ability of CWGC to work in Germany (regardless of Armistice or Versailles terms) does suggest some sort of tacit trade-off. 

 

 

 

If you would go into the 2 above linked GWF threads, you will find my exhaustive contributions to this topic. To include the role of the Etat Civile and the German PoWs  in recovering the dead from the battlegrounds in France.

Also you will find in the linked threads that France did not allow the German government to exhume and repatriate any  German dead in the first years after the war. Nor was it allowed for German family members to bring back their NoK back home on a private basis until later in the 20s.   

Again- please read the very interesting above linked threads. They will give you answers on many of your questions.

For the criminal recoveries of many French/German dead, the book "Au revoir la-haute"  from Pierre Lemaitre is recommendable as it is based on facts from French government archives. Be advised that you will find that Germans by the  thousands were buried as French, due to the poor specified recovery contracts , paid on the basis of "per coffin" (supervised by corrupt civil servants). Miraculously criminal civilian run recovery companies stuffed Germans in the (French) coffins to boost their profit.          

Edited by egbert
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'AOK4 and 'Egbert'

Thank you - Once more your valuable inputs come to the fore.

Very salutary comments.

:-) M

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For those who are interested in the German cemeteries, there are two online articles that I have written.

 

The first one is open access: https://www.riha-journal.org/articles/2017/0150-0176-special-issue-war-graves/0162-vancoillie

 

The other one is very recent and not yet online in its final version (once the final version is online, it should be accessible for free for a limited amount of time, so I will make the users of the forum aware of this at that point). Until then, here it can be found (at a cost, I believe 35.95 USD, although those who are online via an institution may be able to see it): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073820304394

 

Jan

 

 

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21 minutes ago, AOK4 said:

For those who are interested in the German cemeteries, there are two online articles that I have written.

 

The first one is open access: https://www.riha-journal.org/articles/2017/0150-0176-special-issue-war-graves/0162-vancoillie

 

The other one is very recent and not yet online in its final version (once the final version is online, it should be accessible for free for a limited amount of time, so I will make the users of the forum aware of this at that point). Until then, here it can be found (at a cost, I believe 35.95 USD, although those who are online via an institution may be able to see it): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073820304394

Jan,

Very generous.

Thanks.

:-) M

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deutscherinfanteriest

I have a question, thinking about German fallen (according to photos): why are very rare German fallen with Pickelhaube? It was taken as souvenir?

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  • 1 month later...
knittinganddeath
On 19/11/2020 at 20:18, deutscherinfanteriest said:

I have a question, thinking about German fallen (according to photos): why are very rare German fallen with Pickelhaube? It was taken as souvenir?

It might depend on when the photo was taken, and by whom. I guess Americans would not have fought against Germans who wore Pickelhaube as it was discontinued after 1916. Beginning in 1916, it was phased out in favour of the Stahlhelm, which offered better protection against head wounds. However, it was still used for ceremonial purposes until 1918. (Wikipedia)

Edited by knittinganddeath
time of photo
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  • 3 weeks later...
deutscherinfanteriest
On 28/12/2020 at 18:26, knittinganddeath said:

It might depend on when the photo was taken, and by whom. I guess Americans would not have fought against Germans who wore Pickelhaube as it was discontinued after 1916. Beginning in 1916, it was phased out in favour of the Stahlhelm, which offered better protection against head wounds. However, it was still used for ceremonial purposes until 1918. (Wikipedia)

 

You are right. But exist many photos of 1914-16 taken by French or British troops. Why are so rare spiked helmets in photos. I meant probably were taken as souvenirs

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Don Regiano
21 hours ago, deutscherinfanteriest said:

I meant probably were taken as souvenirs

 

Yes - a dangerous practice.  There is a story of one of the Liverpool Pals who "liberated" one in the battle around Montauban.  He was wearing it when the Manchester Pals came up to relieve the Liverpools.  They spotted it and shot him dead.  Or maybe they thought he was a Liverpool supporter.

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