This vast and haunting place is more than just a graveyard, it is a burial site with three different parts. All three lie on one side of the road to Volgograd (Stalingrad), on the other lies the massive Military Memorial Cemetery of Russia; their closeness a brutal reminder of the futility of these deaths, Russian and German alike.
More than 100 Granite cubes are bearing the names of 100 000 soldiers missing in action They died here, somewhere, about an hour’s drive away from Volgograd, the former Stalingrad. Nobody knows where. This is a graveyard without bodies. Names without bones.
Some 50.000 dead soldiers were buried here, only half of them were known by name, those names known are engraved in the stone wall circling that mass grave. The other half are bones without names.
On the right of the entrance is the old Wehrmachtsfriedhof where around 600 Germans were buried while the war was still raging. These were the first to be interred here. The rest of the graves came much later. The official opening was in 1999.
Three villages once stood here in the plains of Stalingrad. Now there is nothing, just grass, wind, and the graves of thousands of men who died on this land, died for their land, never to return home.
sorces & further reading:
Green, peaceful and quiet, more like a park than a burial ground, the old graveyard in Offenburg is a beautiful place to spend time in, it gives you space to think and there is a lot to see and think about on the old Waldbach-Friedhof.
peaceful and quiet
Graves and plants are well kept, everything is in good order, it feels rather German with the various sections allotted to certain groups. The dead have been interred here since 1870.
women of strong faith
Nuns are buried on the Northern end of the spacious graveyard. The “Orden der Augustiner Chorfrauen” (Congregatio Beatae Mariae Virginis) was mainly concerned with the education of girls and originates in the nearby Vosges Mountains (France) in the 16th century.
the Jewish community
Another section has been allotted to the members of the Jewish community from Offenburg and the surrounding area (Durbach), some graves are very old and have been restored 2008, even though restoration is not typical within the Jewish tradition who tends to let the stones disintegrate. The aim was to make it possible for the German public to read the inscriptions in Hebrew and Latin, to give names to the graves, better to remember.
Offenburg is still home to a number of Jewish families. A memorial nearby commemorates those murdered during the Holocaust.
a name and two dates
Just a stone’s throw away there are the war graves of soldiers from France and Germany who died in World War I and II stretch along an accurate line. Each life reduced to a name and two dates: birth and death.
It is a very peacefull place, a strange but important achievent for a graveyard that holds not only the remains but also the memories of soldiers, persecuted Jews, nuns and sinners alike.
There certainly is a lot to see and think aout on the old graveyard in Offenburg.