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Ypres Salient Tour Descriptor Notes  Back to Tour Map

2. Langemarck German Cemetery:

Often referred to as dark, foreboding and sombre, is to fail to understand the philosophy that led to the landscaping of this German cemetery. In 1926 Robert Tischler became the architect responsible for erecting and building German war memorials and cemeteries. His philosophy was that the cemetery garden should blend in with the natural features of the local area as far as possible. This is achieved at Langemarck with low grassed walls, random oak trees and the feeling that the soldiers are simply just buried in a field in Flanders. Whenever, the wind and rain blows fiercely through this cemetery it is, in reality, no more dark or foreboding than any other field immediate to it.

The cemetery is maintained by the German VDK (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge”) that is “Care for German War Graves” and contains 44,000 burials. 25,000 of these are in a mass grave in front of the entrance. Dominating the cemetery are the statutes of four German soldiers designed by Emil Kreiger who took for his inspiration a photograph of four German soldiers burying a comrade.
The cemetery, the second largest in the area, also has three German Pill-Boxes standing on their front line.

3. The Brooding Soldier:

This splendid monument was erected in 1922 to commemorate the involvement of the Canadians when Gas, for the first time, was used by the Germans as an instrument of war. Two attacks took place on the 22nd and 24th April 1915. For countries at war an ethical line had been crossed and although gas had been prohibited by the Hague Conventions, Germany claimed that the use of pressurised cylinders to release the Gas (the convention banned projectiles of gas) left the agreement intact. After this, clearly the Allies could not be disadvantaged and consequently gas became a regular part of warfare. The number of soldiers lost through these gas attacks of 1915 remains obscure, since the attack was the first day of the Second Battle of Ypres and the 2,000 Canadians identified on the memorial plaque as missing refer to those killed by shellfire and machine guns as well as gas deaths. To the north (and to the left) of the allied line were the French colonial troops who bore the brunt of the attack on the 22nd April. No figures are available for their losses.

The memorial was erected in 1922: artistically it has stood the test of time and has a very modern art-deco feel to it. Designed by Chapman Clemensha - a recent immigrant to Canada from Preston - it reminds us that half of the Canadian army in 1914 were not born in that country.


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