In Sandweiler, just over a kilometer from the American war cemetery, there are just under 11,000 German soldiers buried who died during the Ardenner offensive. The cemetery was when it was inaugurated in 1952 the first for German soldiers who died during the second world war that was established outside Germany.

Current status: Cemetery (2008).

Location: 49° 36' 34 N 6° 12' 20 E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Many times the individual disappears in all the statistics we are fed with when it comes to the second world war. There is really nothing wrong with statistics because it gives us something concrete to relate to it says absolutely nothing about the human tragedies that are hidden behind the statistics. But sometimes a face is highlighted in the statistics and we get a picture of man. In this cemetery I stopped for no reason at a grave where two soldiers rested. One was the obergefreiter Martin Halbinger, 33, and the other was grenadier Johann Lechtenberger, 16 years old.

I have no idea who they were and even less did I know anything about their background. Were they against the war? Were they devoted Nazis? Were they war criminals or had they prevented war crimes? I don’t know, but one thing I do know, their death was a tragedy for their families. Someone lost maybe her husband, boyfriend, son, father, brother, uncle, uncle. Perhaps Johann and Martin had lost a relative while they were alive? If so, who and when? In this way, Martin and Johann and their relatives are no different from other people who have lost a loved one. Suffering is something that everyone can feel, even Germans, but their suffering is often spoken of silently.

Follow up in books: Beevor, Antony: Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble (2015).