Remembering on Foreign Soil: The Activities of the German War Graves Commission

  • David Livingstone


‘Reconciliation over the graves’ (‘Versöhnung über den Gräbern’) is a slogan of the People’s Association for the Maintenance of German War Graves, or VDK (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge), an organization that has built and maintained German military cemeteries and memorials since 1919. The VDK was formed in the aftermath of the Great War to recover and commemorate those Germans who had been killed fighting mainly in foreign countries.1 During the war, this task had been the responsibility of the Prussian Ministry’s Central Identification Office (Central-Nachweise-Amt), disbanded in 1918 following the Versailles Treaty.2 The VDK was typical of many post-war völkisch factions with members that included disenchanted soldiers and right-wing radical groups. These individuals espoused the revanchist myth of the ‘stab in the back’, according to which Germany’s soldiers would have won the war had it not been for the undermining efforts of leftist conspiracies on the home front.3


German Democratic Republic American Veteran German Soldier Occupation Authority Foreign Soil 
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© David Livingstone 2010

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  • David Livingstone

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