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Comparing German and British War Cemeteries of the First World War

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Introduction

´╗┐There are some military cemeteries in Ypres Salient battlefields in Belgium. One of them are Langemark and Ypres. Langemark is one of the only German cemeteries in Belgium , as most of the bodies that could be found would have been moved back to Germany at the end of the war. The Langemarck German cemetery started as a collection of just a few graves in 1915, but as more bodies were located they were sent to Langemarck for burial. There was a huge mass grave, known as the Comrades' Grave (Kameraden Grab), in the middle of the cemetery, where roughly 25,000 men are buried. Two of the men buried in this mass grave were British soldiers whose bodies were found among the Germans. ...read more.

Middle

block most sunlight and as a result the cemeteries often seem dark. This creates a powerful image, there is inevitably an element of defeatism in the cemetery?s appearance. At the back of the cemetery there is a bronze sculpture of four soldiers, that watch over the cemetery and mourn for the soldiers that were killed. The cemetery also had lots of head stones, but unlike the British cemeteries and memorials, which were made from white stone, the German cemetery and memorial was all made from black stone. I think that the black stone was a nice idea, because it shows the darkness of what happened, but the white stone symbolizes strength and peace. English cemeteries have white upstanding headstones, and all the landscaping is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to resemble an English country garden - colourful flowers and plants, with lots of green grass.British war cemeteries are open airy places ,well kept. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sword on the cross associates the Christian symbolism of hope born from suffering, with the military role of the soldiers in the surrounding graves. Even the Menin Gate in Ypres, which is a form of triumphal arch and has overtones of Imperial victory, does not lose sight of the deaths of individuals by the incised list of 54,896 names of missing World War I casualties. If the remains of an Allied soldier are found and can be identified , the mans name is removed from the list of the missing , and his remains interred in the nearest war cemetery to where he was killed. It is clear from the architecture and layout of the cemeteries that they are very different, influenced obviously by the outcome of the First World War and in Germany?s case the consequence of the Treaty of Versailles, including the prohibition of Germany from maintaining German military cemeteries outside their borders. ...read more.

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