„Two hundred and fifty participants in the 16th German Student Conference took part in an excursion to Flanders. They were addressed by their leader, G.Krüger in the cemetery of Langemark[P1] . He ended with the words, ‘Where we are standing today is a piece of Germany. Germany is wherever Germans gave their life and blood for their Volk.’ The Belgian officials were very cooperative. There were no incidents to report during the excursion“
In stark contrast to the incident in November 1915, as the British machine guns and the insane commands of their own General Staff were cooperative in mowing down a few thousand German grammar school old boys and students.
This piece of Germany lies directly outside the miserable brick settlement which has inherited the name of the destroyed village of Langemark, not far from Canada[P2] , at the other end of the village street. A melancholy Flemish peasant is looking after us. We fetched him from the first ‘farm’, just behind the rubbish dump of left-over, rusty murder machines, which is crowned by a dented German steel helmet.
It is it’s ten thousand whose names are carved into the walls of a fenced-off niche of the ceremonial entrance gate, and whose remains rest under plain black wooden crosses, strictly aligned, so straight that no inspecting superior officer would be able to subsequently find fault with it.
Two living German gentlemen call, “Heil Hitler!” but there is no one there to reply. The porter opens a heavy iron gate to the morgue. Inside is like a classroom: two benches with desks. On the wall hang wreaths instead of school caps. They are black, white and red and decorated with swastikas: “To our fallen comrades, from C.V.”, “To our dear dead, from the German Male Voice Choir”…
There is a black register containing the names, units and grave numbers of all the scholars and students, alphabetically, on one of the desks. There is another column for notes. It is empty. No praise, no censure.
So these are the candidates for death who passed the patriotism examination, the model students with whose conduct one rebukes the living. The Germans, and the non-Germans. The result of the examination can not be changed: there are two Lewys, two Seelig and a Kohn. The volunteer Kurt Salomon was a doctor, but the boycott cannot reach him. He can represent his Arian colleagues here. No. 5314 is called Rosenbaum, and that does him no more harm than the following Rosenkranz and Rosenthal. Jacobsohn (6531) didn’t make it to the concentration camp or into exile. Abraham, who forced his way to the front of the dance of death, wears only his ID, not a humiliating star. Pollak, Heimann and Bär: they fell without satisfying the criteria of the race laws, ‘to have taken part in at least three officially recognized battles.’ Lots of Meyers: you can’t tell. The name doesn’t contain Jewish racial characteristics, and the Arian osteology knows no others.
My schoolmate D. looked ‚terribly Jewish’. He collected butterflies and was going to be a doctor, but in 1915, he changed track and became a voluntary defender of his fatherland instead. Now he is lying alongside Arians who are no longer in a position to protest against his presence.
“Volunteers first!” demanded the fatherland in 1915.
“Juda verrecke[P3] !” it demands in 1933.
My friend D. obeyed both demands punctually. Attention!
“We are standing on a piece of Germany.”
[P1]German WWI cemetery in Flanders. A battle in which a large number of the first student volunteers were killed in November 1915
[P2]It is common that streets or areas have been renamed in commemoration of the Allies.