Stumpfe Eiche

Today Weende is a city quarter of Göttingen, Germany. It was an independent community until 1964 and as such it was (and it is still) remembering its fallen soldiers in both World Wars. In 1956 the stonemason August Voss had created a memorial made of sandstone which was placed in a small forest in a region called Stumpfe Eiche (after the former local name vor der stuven Eichen, referring to stubs of oaks once standing there). It is today a bit hidden, but you can see steps leading you from the street level into the forest. There the memorial is surrounded by seats. It is a nice place, but a problematic memorial.

1914-1918. “Ihren gefallenen Söhnen / die Gemeinde Weende”

1914-1918. ‘To our fallen sons / the community of Weende’

On the annual Volkstrauertag (people’s day of mourning; second Sunday before Advent) official gatherings happen here to commemorate the Fallen of both World Wars. The fallen German soldiers from Weende, to be more concise. The memorial consists of two columns with the names of soldiers from Weende, connected by a stone on top with the iron cross and the years 1914-1918. In front of it lies a stone referring to the years 1939-1945 and behind this you see a steel helmet placed on a wreath. No comment, no explanations. It is no surprise that this place has been vandalized in the past.

“1939-1945. Gefallen, Gestorben, Vermißt für uns.” / “Und Eltern, Weib und Kind und Haus sah keiner von uns wieder.”

‘1939-1945. Fallen, Died, Missing for us.’ / ‘And none of us saw parents, wife and child and house again.’

The memorial is a silent witness of the past and a place to start discussions. Of course the people wanted to commemorate their beloved ones, their fathers and brothers after World War II. But the dedication of the memorial to “Unsern Helden” / ‘Our heroes‘ is something that can’t be presented today without explanations. Nobody can see them today as heroes, they were part of the army of the aggressor. The country, that invaded its neighbors twice. You can’t remember them without speaking about their victims all across Europe. It is a memorial that seriously needs a comment from the people of our time, an explanation of the historic context and our current view on what is written there.

Mahnmal Stumpfe Eiche
Stumpfe Eiche, Weende

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