At the German Forest Cemetery (‘Waldfriedhof’) in Vladslo 25,644 German soldiers were buried, who died during the 1st world war (1914-1918).
Originally only 3,233 soldiers lay here, but in 1958 the remains of more than 22,000 others were brought here and were reburied.
Among them also Peter Kolwitz, a student from Berlin and son of sculptor Käthe Kolwitz, who at the age of 17 years in Esen (close to Diksmuide) and barely two month after the start of the war, was killed at the Belgian front. His army unit was primarily composed of students, who joined the army at the beginning of the war. Kolwitz got killed while his company was attacking the Belgian 11th Line regiment, which desperately was defending the Ijzer (Belgian River) at Diksmuide.
The losses were immense among the untrained youth, which the Germans later, after the attack, referred to as the ‘Massacre of the innocents’.
Kolwitz was buried in Esen, but was relocated to Valdslo in 1958.
The two sculptures, world-famous sculptures ‘mourning parents’, which were standing since 1932 at the cemetery in Esen, followed Peter to his final resting place. The father’s eyes are focused on the grave of his son…
Käthe Kolwitz dedicated herself after the death of her son to socialist and pacifist philosophy, realizing that his death was completely unnecessary. Her life was not easy, because also her grandson (Peter Jr.) was killed at the Russian front during the 2nd world war (1939 – 1945).
She herself died on April 22nd 1945, two weeks before the end of WW II – she wrote in her last letter: ‘War walks with me till the end’.
André, Gerhard and Maria Museeuw are for more than 50 years the guardians of the cemetery.
(translation : Hans Kerremans)
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