06 February 2009

Kriegsgräberstätte

The suburb of Großhadern in the South West of Munich is home to the Klinikum Großhadern, the city's largest hospital and the research and teaching hospital of LMU. Take U6 as far as you can and this is where you will end up.

A ten minute walk takes you past the newly built apartments onto a tree lined road which leads to the Waldfriedhof - the woodland or forest cemetery. On the other side of the road is a very different cemetery, the Kriegsgräberstätte, a burial site for the victims of wars. It's not a military cemetery though - civilians and soldiers are buried side by side here.

A memorial at the entrance rises like a sail. Rows of simple tomb markers contain only basic information - name, date of birth and date of death. Sometimes the information is incomplete, sometimes they are simply marked unbekannt - unknown.

Most striking is the absence of the personal shown in traditional inscriptions - 'in loving memory', 'sadly missed', or a bible verse. There is no reminder of the communities or families that these dead came from and that remembered them.

Perhaps that's no bad thing. There is no glory in war - even in wars that have to be fought - but there is always destruction and disruption, not only for the dead but also for communities and families.

(The last of the photographs below is a collage of photographs of some of the memorial stones in the cemetery. Clicking on it will take you to a larger image.)

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