Ypres Salient War Graves
Langemark German Military Cemetery
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The cemetery started as a small group of graves in 1915. Burials were increased here by the German military directorate in Gent during 1916 to 1918.
In the mid 1920s, when the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge and the Official German Burial Service in Belgium began to renovate the cemeteries in Flanders, the cemetery was renamed Langemarck-North. With the setting up of a register of German military cemeteries in Flanders in 1930 the cemetery was renamed as German Military Cemetery Number 123. It was officially inaugurated on 10 July 1932.
During the 1930s approximately 10,000 soldiers were brought here from 18 German burial sites around the region of Langemarck and the total number of burials in the cemetery reached about 14,000. About 3,000 of the graves were those of the Student Volunteers who died in the battle of Langemark in October and November 1914 and as a result of this the cemetery became known as the Student Cemetery - Der Studentenfriedhof. Eight soldiers were buried in each plot and they are marked by a flat stone inscribed with their names, where known.
After the Second World War and following the agreement in 1954 to establish three major German collecting cemeteries for First World War dead, Langemark underwent major redevelopment in the late 1950s:
Exhumations from Westroosbeke, Passchendaele, Moorslede, Zonnebeke, Poelkapelle and Zillebeke were carried out and reburials at Langemark brought the total number of dead known dead to over 19,378. All the 'unknown' dead who were removed from all over Flanders at this time were taken to Langemark for reburial; the remains of 24,917 unidentified German soldiers are interred in the Kameraden Grab – a 'Comrades Grave'. The total number of soldiers buried or commemorated in Langemark stands at 44,234.
In 1971 more work was done at Langemark. The Volksbund changed all the grave markers which had previously only given the grave number to stones giving personal dates for each soldier where possible.
In recent years research by the Volksbund has identified 16,940 of the 24,000 previously 'unknown' soldiers buried here and since 1984 their names have been inscribed on granite blocks by the communal grave. That same year an international ceremony at Langemark was held to mark the completion of renovation work, which included moving the statue of the mourning soldiers to the 'horizon' of the cemetery.
The Mourning Soldiers
The statue by Professor Emil Krieger was inspired by a photograph taken of soldiers from the Reserve Infantry Regiment 238, mourning at the grave of a comrade in 1918 (1). The second soldier from the right was killed two days after the photograph was taken.
Langemark German military cemetery is situated to the north of Langemark village, on the northern exit in the direction of Houthulst. Langemark is about 6 kilometres north-east of Ypres.
Translation from text provided by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge.
(1) Photograph courtesy of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge.
Copyright Joanna Legg & Graham Parker © 2002 All rights reserved