Kant’s grave, Kaliningrad, Russia

Kaliningrad CathedralThe philosopher Immanuel Kant died here, when it was still Königsberg in Prussia.

Originally he was put to rest within the Cathedral but was later moved to where he rests now.

 

His mausoleum is one oft he very few things still left from German times, most of it has been removed by the Russians, including quite a number of graveyards throughout the city.

They are now parks and recreation areas.

Kaliningrad had been German since the Middle Ages.

Kaliningrad, Russia Damaged almost beyond recognition in WWII, the easily accessible Baltic seaport became Russian, an enclave between Lithuania and Poland, all the Germans had to go.

Kants grave is one oft he few traces left.

The famous philosopher  taught at Königsberg University and died in 1804.

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German War Graves in Rossoschka, Russia

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:

Rossoschka – Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsräberfürsorge

The Motherland calls!

 

Mamayev Kurgan – Volgograd’s gigantic memorial to the Russian heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad.

It is everything it could be, just bigger: heroic, massive, and somehow very Russian, Mamayev Kurgan is the largest free-standing non-religious statue of the world and it is just overwhelming.

Huge flights of stairs (200 steps to remember the 200 days of the Battle of Stalingrad) lead through various levels of remembrance, WWII sound recordings accompany visitors on their way towards the statue of Mamayev Kurgan, that towers 52 meters tall over Volgograd like Cristo Redentor over Rio de Janeiro.

Behind the enormous concrete work lies the graveyard, marshals and snipers are buried here.

Here in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, a ferocious and deadly World War II battle between Russian and German Forces raged for 200 days, killing 2 Million people. 2 Million people. 2 000 000 people.

Some are remembered on stones, some along the walls of the hall where the eternal flame is guarded by young Russian soldiers.

So many lives ended on this very hill, so much blood, pain and despair.

A gigantic graveyard to the horror of Stalingrad.

But what always will be part of my memory of this sun-infused summer’s day wandering through the memorials to the horror of Stalingrad is the friendliness of the Russian people towards us, the Germans. They welcomed us with warm smiles and open hearts. 77 years after the Battle of Stalingrad. And they went out of their way to make us feel welcome, helping hands, not ones with swords.

This is probably an even bigger symbol than Mamayev Kurgan.

Jews, Nuns and Soldiers

Offenburg Alter Friedhof (30)

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

Offenburg Alter Friedhof (29)

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.

 

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.

Offenburg Alter Friedhof (5)

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

Offenburg Alter Friedhof (9)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.

 

Sources:

http://www.offenburg.de/html/franziskanerkloster.html

http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/offenburg_friedhof.htm

http://www.tbo-offenburg.de/html/kernstadt.html