Wehrmacht soldiers to get dignified burial more than 60 years after the war

20-12-2006

More than sixty years after the end of World War II it can still prove hard to bury hostilities - as well as the remains of soldiers who died in the carnage. In February of this year the remains of some 4,000 WWII German soldiers were found piled up in numbered cardboard boxes at a disused factory in the north Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem. Ever since, the Czech and German authorities have been trying to agree on a final resting place for them.Soon they will be able to make their final journey - to a cemetery in the north-eastern town of Hlucin.

The remains of 4,000 German soldiers who served in the Wehrmacht will finally get a dignified burial. Making their final journey to Hlucin will be almost like going home. With its complex history, the town is a melting pot of Czechs, Germans and Poles. For almost 200 years - up until 1919 - the town and the surrounding area - belonged to Prussia. After the Munich Agreement it became part of the German Reich. When German soldiers marched into Hlucin in October 1938 many local inhabitants came out to greet them and 12,000 of the local men joined the Wehrmacht. Although after 1945 Hlucin became part of Czechoslovakia to this day the town's inhabitants have a strong German sentiment. The local council has now offered to extend the Hlucin cemetery and bury the remains of the 4,000 German soldiers there. A poll among the town's inhabitants revealed that this solution would be acceptable to its present day inhabitants.

Middle aged woman: "People in Hlucin have close ties with Germany, this town has a German past, German roots and so I think that the majority of townspeople will not mind."

However there are some who do. The chairwoman of the Freedom Fighters Union Andela Dvorakova says she finds the solution unacceptable. "We are strongly opposed to the idea that 60 years after the war soldiers who served in the Wehrmacht should be buried here in the Czech Republic."

Hlucin cemeteryHlucin cemetery However in this case the union is in the minority. The Hlucin town hall has made a serious offer and the German Association Responsible for War Graves together with the Czech Defense Ministry have promised to finance and organize the burials. Hans Korbel of the German Association in Silesia says that many other states have buried enemy soldiers with dignity.

"You will find soldiers of the Wehrmacht buried in France and other countries where they fought as enemy soldiers."

The local town hall will now have to purchase land to extend the cemetery.

It is not clear how long that may take - but if all goes well - sometime next year the remains of 4,000 German soldiers who died on Czech territory will finally find a dignified resting place.

20-12-2006

Choose Karel Gott´s greatest hit (More)