There is a total of 44, 292 men buried in this small cemetery. To the victor, the spoils.
This is the only German cemetery you will find on the Ypres Salient.
It contains some 44,292 burials. These have been concentrated from other burial sites. Standing at the entrance, you see a long, low, dark red granite building.
The entrance to the cemetery has two small rooms (Chapels) and can only be described as cold and dreary. Although the cast-iron gates to each are truly amazing. The room on the left has the visitor’s book. It also has a relief map showing the location of past and present German cemeteries in Belgium. On the right are oak panels on which are carved the names of the missing.
The cemetery is in two parts
There is a mass grave of 24,917 soldiers, which is planted with flowering shrubs (Kameradengrab). It is enclosed by 86 bronze panels, which are etched with the men’s names, regimental insignia and battle honours.
The cemetery is darkened by towering trees and again has a cold feeling.
At the rear is a sculpture of four mourning figures by Prof Emil Krieger. It has a haunting feel in this austere cemetery. The small stone crosses in the cemetery do not mark graves but the flat stones do. Many are unknown and men where buried four, six or eight to a grave.
Two reasons for this type of burial can be put forward. Firstly it shows the men’s comradeship in death. It also shows that the saying “ To the victor the spoils” rings true. The Belgium Government did not want to give land for the enemy dead. Even today some Belgian people I have met, tell me – “ Do not speak German in the area”.
The remains of the massive German Blockhouses are in the northern wall. The 4th Battalion Worcester Regiment faced these blockhouses on 9th October 1917, (Battle of PoelCappelle). Under withering machine gun fire the Battalion struggled and it was then that Private Frederick Dancox attacked single handedly, took the blockhouse and for his bravery was awarded a Victoria Cross.
Behind the three concrete Blockhouses are buried 9,475 men. Divisional memorials are on slabs between the bunkers.
Any Battlefield visitor must take time to visit this cemetery.