Ypres Salient Tour Descriptor
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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.