Sunday, June 26, 2011
WWI cemeteries and memorials, Ypres
With hundreds of thousands dead in a very small area, there are many, many cemeteries and memorials to units. The tall statue of a soldier is a memorial to Canadians, there's a memorial to a group of Americans who served here, the one with many crosses is British. Then there are two from a German site: the sign saying about 25,000 of them are buried in the plot (they used mass burials at the time) and then the plot, that looks like a square with plants in it. There were other Germans buried there, not just these 25,000. Among the Germans are the cadets who, a few weeks into the war, marched in their best uniforms to finish off the British and Belgians who had taken extraordinary fire trying to prevent the Germans from cutting them off from the sea (Dunkirk of WWII memory was not far from where I was) and were mostly decimated. Their officers thought the Belgians and few remaining English (from the start of the war) would be too disorganized and exhausted to fight. The Germans were very wrong and the men/boys who had rushed out of school to enlist were slaughtered. Later Hitler would glorify them as an use them as exemplars of outstanding behavior. But, in reality it was simple arrogance and poor military leadership.