The dark crosses of the German cemetery give it a very different feel from the US, British and Canadian cemeteries, and they are all worth visiting
The sign in front of this cemetery reads: “Until 1947, this was an American cemetery. The remains were exhumed and shipped to the United States. It has been German since 1948, and contains over 21,000 graves. With its melancholy rigour, it is a graveyard for soldiers not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight. They too have found rest in our soil of France.”
This cemetery is found near Bayeux and at present contains the remains of some 21,000 German soldiers who died during World War II. During the war American and German casualties were buried here side-by-side, but after the war the Americans exhumed their soldiers for burials back home. The Germans instead set about collecting their scattered dead from all over France and relocating them here.
At the centre of the cemetery there is a large tumulus, which is flanked by two statues and topped by a dark cross of basalt lava. This marks a mass grave for 207 unknown and 89 identified German soldiers. Surrounding this central feature are 49 grave field containing up to 400 graves each. The uniform scale of the place gives you a frightening sense of the loss incurred by the war.
Commemorating the enemy’s dead in one’s country was a symbol of reconciliation and unity in the wake of the war.
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