Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, Cannock Chase

Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, German Military Cemetery at Cannock ChaseAlmost 5,000 German and Austrian war dead, 2,143 from the First World War and 2,797 from the Second, lie in peace in Cannock Chase, an area of outstanding natural beauty in rural Staffordshire.  Some died trying to kill our parents or grandparents from the skies; others were washed ashore from ships; and some were prisoners of war who never made it home; 95 are ‘unbekannte’ – unknown, or unidentifiable.  The burials include crews of four Zeppelin flying ships shot down over Britain, who are all buried together.

Cannock Chase is an officially designated area of outstanding national beauty.It is an odd feeling, meandering through this tranquil setting, looking at the names, reflecting on the people they once were.  Old enemies, sure; but there is always another perspective and it’s a stark reminder that war takes the young.  Every one of these men would have had grieving parents, wives, girlfriends, drinking buddies – and many years left to them.  Then the mischievous devil in me wonders whether the cemetery’s location in the West Midlands, rather than closer to the North Sea ports and easier for German visitors to get to, was intentional – the decision of some civil servant with a grudge, or a warped sense of humour.

Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, Cannock German Military CemeteryThe Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof was established by an agreement between the UK and what the then Federal Republic of Germany in 1959, which provided for a central cemetery in Britain for German nationals who had died here during either world war.  The German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge) arranged to transfer graves from scattered burial grounds throughout the kingdom and the cemetery was inaugurated on 10th June 1967.  Unlike the dark and sombre German cemetery at Langemark in Belgium, which I have visited, Cannock Chase is full of light and, somehow, beautiful – though, as in Belgium, many graves are multi-occupancy.  The entrance is by a hall of honour, in the centre of which is an arresting bronze sculpture of a fallen warrior by Hans Wimmer.

Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery.Just before you reach the Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, there’s a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery where a further 286 German servicemen are buried.

The fallen warrior by Hans WimmerIt was all so long ago and we’ve come such a long way.

Britain's German Military Cemetery.

Three unknown German soldiers

Go to A Bit About Britain’s directory listing for the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase.

19 thoughts on “Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, Cannock Chase

  1. 3dcandy

    Located here are also the graves of the airmen who lost their lives in the 4 airships shot down over Britian in WWI

  2. Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse

    I had no idea such a place existed. It was very interesting to read about and made me thought about how ennemies are just human beings, something we seem to remember when wars are over, so we provide burial sites for them. Like Achilles giving Hector’s body back to his father after killing him…

  3. mekslibrarian

    Cemeteries hold a fascination and attraction for me that is hard to explain. In this case, there is none of the sense of belonging, of being buried in the same community where a person was born, baptized, got married, had children and eventually died, none of the history one finds in the older graveyards in villages and towns.
    As you say, it is beautiful and sad at the same time.
    Have we really come a long way? Maybe (most of) the people of the UK and Germany have, but there is still enough hatred around to start up another world war. Let’s hope things won’t go so horribly wrong again in our lifetime.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      You’re right, there is certainly so much hatred in the world and, amazingly, dangerous political posturing. But I think the achievements since 1945 outweigh the negatives – I have to believe we progress. Possibly the greatest achievement is the more widespread recognition of the value of people. If we can just keep spreading that…

  4. hilarymb

    Hi Mike – I too would like to visit Cannock Chase – how interesting and sad to see – but I’m glad the lost have been buried with respect …

    Thanks for sharing this cemetery … it’s good to know about – Hilary

  5. Bill Nicholls

    One cemetery I would like to visit when I get a chance if only to visit the graves of two airmen who’s cross I found in a church in Wales and for the poor airman who lost his life on the downs near Blewbury.

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