On the streets of Berlin, you can’t help but be reminded of the horrors of World War II.
The stark concrete slabs of the Holocaust memorial stand just outside the city’s Brandenburg Gate. Then there are the thousands of brass “stumbling stones” carefully set into the city’s sidewalks, memorializing victims of the Holocaust. In Germany, it’s called Erinnerungskultur, a “culture of remembrance” that takes an unflinching look into the darkest corners of the country’s history.
Yet, when it comes to remembering World War I, there are far fewer memorials. At the Columbiadamm Cemetery in Berlin more than 7,000 World War I soldiers are buried. The rows of crosses are kept neat and tidy but are rarely visited, said Anne-Susann Schanner, an education officer at the Berlin branch of the German National Federation for the Care of War Graves.
“Sometimes I do see flowers on the war graves. People don’t even have to go personally, they can ask us to put flowers on the grave. It happens when it’s the death date or the birthday of the deceased,” Schanner explained. “There are no witnesses left and most people don’t have that emotional connection to World War I.”
This year marks a century since the end of the Great War. In France and the UK, the end of the war is marked every November 11 as Armistice Day, when Germany surrendered and signed a peace treaty with the Allied Powers, including Britain, France and the United States. Read more