Langemark

German Military Cemetery

Visitors to Commonwealth Cemeteries in Belgium will always note the inscription that the land has been donated in perpetuity, in remembrance of the sacrifice to save Belgium.

The situation for the quarter of a million German dead from the battles in West Flanders is somewhat different. Originally the Soldatenfriedhofs were as numerous on the ground as Britain's. However the territory was rented and initially for only 30 years.

After the Second World War an agreement was reached between the two governments and Belgium allowed four cemeteries which would act as concentration cemeteries. This land has also been given on a permanent basis.

The entrance wreath

The entrance wreath

The cemetery is easily reached from Ieper. Follow the N 313 towards Poelkapelle. At Vancouver Corner with the Canadian Monument turn left for Langemark. The route is clearly marked driving through the village.

Alternatively it is also signposted from Poelkapelle at the Guynemer Monument.

Names of the missing

Names of the missing

The entrance constructed with red Weser stone has two rooms. One with oak panels showing the names of the missing, the other containing the register and visitors book. There is also an interesting map showing where all the original cemeteries used to be.

At 0800 hours on 23rd October 1914, during the 1st Battle of Ypres, the German army attacked Langemark which was being defended by the British 1st Division with the 2nd Division outside the village on the right.

About 15% of Germany's volunteers were students and high school graduates. Entire lecture-rooms and classes - together with professors and teachers - had taken themselves down to the recruiting offices.

A plaque with 16 names

That morning the German Army hurled these units of enthusiastic but untrained students into the fray against Langemark. That evening at 1730 hours dense lines of troops were seen advancing towards the British 2nd Division's positions.

They were shot down in thousands by the only professional Army in Europe - the British. Most of these students lie here at Langemark and for this reason the cemetery is often known as the Studentenfriedhof - Students Cemetery.

The British Official History records that the 1st Gloucesters fired an average of 500 rounds of ammunition per man between 0800 and 1300 when the attack came to a halt in their sector.

German Wreath

The cemetery has been under the sponsorship of various Student Organisations ever since.

44,061 German soldiers are buried here under the oak trees (a constant in most German Military cemeteries, representing strength).

The entrance portal
 
Looking across the cemetery towards the mass grave

Looking across the cemetery towards the mass grave

 
Names on the mass grave columns

Names on the mass grave columns

As you enter the cemetery you are confronted by a mass grave of 24,917 men whose names are inscribed on the blocks around it.

In the older part of the cemetery the graves are marked by granite plaques bearing up to 20 names.

The graves are watched over by the statues of four of their comrades designed by Emil Krieger in 1956.

The inspiration for the group may have come from a photo of a funeral service of the Rhein Reserve Infantry Regiment Nr 258 at the Bouillonville Cemetery in 1918.

The Watchers

The Watchers by Emil Krieger

Part of the bunkers

To the right hand side are bunkers from the Langemark Line with Divisional Memorials on the blocks between them.

Reserve Infantry Regiment 240

Reserve Infantry Regiment 240

 

The three other concentration Soldatenfriedhof are situated at:

Vladslo Vladslo
Menen Menen
Hooglede Hooglede
 

If you turn left on leaving the cemetery and left again to drive down the side of it after a short distance you will come to the 34th Division Memorial situated in front of a bunker used as an Advanced Dressing Station by Lawrence of Arabia's brother, Robert.

34th Division Memorial 34th Division Memorial