Events - Finding traces in Normandy

France, November 2006

Due to our membership of "Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge" and the cooperation with the veteran`s association of the 89th infantry division, that occupied in April 1945 the "REIMAHG" and liberated the surrounding camps, the long weekend in November allowed us to continue our research in Normandy.

When meeting our French friends, we started the visit of Normandy with a well explained and interesting sightseeing tour of the area where the Allies landed on the 80 Km of beaches on June 6th, 1944 and which ended on August 21st in Tournai-sur-Dives.
The historical area where this battle took place is in fact one huge open air museum. Reminding us about the thousands of casualties are the numerous memorial sites, museums, remains of the former Atlantik Wall and the German and Allied military cemeteries.

The military cemetery of the United States near Colleville-sur Mer was one of our goals. Here rest 9.386 soldiers, with 307 unknown. The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) has here and in St. James a total number of 13.796 soldiers buried, despite the fact that the majority of the Americans killed where transferred back to the United States.
The names of 1.557 "Missing in action" are engraved at the Eastern Wall near the main memorial. Behind some of the names, a small messing button is attached, thus showing that even today unknown soldiers finally are identified.

We found the information we were looking for in the archives of the US military cemetery. We were helped on a very kind way and could verify the lists of the killed soldiers of the 89th U.S. Infantry division, who found their last rest in this cemetery.

Also of interest is a unnoticeable square stone on the other side of the archives, just beside the road. The text on this plate doesn`t speak of burials but explains that General Eisenhower laid new documents about the Allied landing in Normandy inside, with a notice that the plate has to be removed in June 2044.

The German Volksbund also maintains six German war cemeteries and all of them are impressive and very well cared for. We visited some of these burial sites and the site of Mont-de-Huisnes that was inaugurated in September 1963, a visitor marked the following words in the visitor`s guestbook, which where also our thoughts:

"When looking upon all these graves, one could ask, why humans haven`t still learned anything."