The Twentieth Century Society

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War memorials

France: Neuville-Saint-Vaast Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof

Architect: Robert Tischler
Owners: Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge
Location: Neuville-Saint-Vaast, France

Sometimes known as ‘La Maison Blanche’, this is the largest German war cemetery in France. 44,833 bodies are buried here, with 8,040 of them in a mass grave. The cemetery was created by the French military authorities in 1919-23 to accommodate the bodies of German soldiers buried in the surrounding area. In 1928, its care was taken over by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, the German counterpart to the I.W.G.C. established in 1919. Work on creating a more permanent and landscaped cemetery began in 1936 but was halted by the outbreak of another world war. In 1959 German youth volunteers were allowed to care for the cemetery and it was finally constructed and landscaped in 1974-83, when the original wooden crosses were replaced by metal ones. Belgium was more accommodating than France towards respecting Germany’s dead after the Great War, and there the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge was allowed to construct war cemeteries with masonry walls and lodges. These were designed by the organisation’s architect, Robert Tischler. The most impressive and moving are those at Langemarck and Vladslo near Ypres.

Gavin Stamp

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