Pictures and text by Mark R. Hatlie
These pictures were taken on February 12, 2006 in Darmstadt. The church is located at Kapellplatz, at the crossing of Muehlstrasse and Soderstrasse not far from down town. It is an interesting example of a memorial with several layers of meaning, but does not appear to be a disputed site.
The memorial is a church or rather the roofless shell of church. The church was destroyed in the night of September 11/12, 1944 in an allied bombing raid. Over 12,000 people were killed. The main memorial to the dead is at their place of buriel in the forest cemetery outside town.
|The church ruins are located in a kind of park that seems to be a former cemetery. A few individual, very old gravestones (not pictured) are still standing. The dates 1933-1945 refer not to any specific event and not even just the war, but the whole period of Nazi rule.|
|The whole front end of the church was destroyed; the whole wall is missing. There is a pole in front of the church. Inside there is a tall cross.|
|Further out in front of the church, there is an abstract statue of a mourning human figure.|
|From closer inside, plaques on the wall are visible.|
|At the foot of the cross, the words read, "For the victims of the war and violent rule".|
|The large plate on the left reads, "In memory of the dead / They rest in peace".|
|Further back, a smaller, bronze plaque reads, "Their Dead / Those who fell in the world wars and liberation wars / Those who died by violence and in misery / are remembered by the Baltic German Landesmannschaft / This honorary plaque was placed by the Landesmannschaft together with its host city Darmstadt A.D. 1968". The term Landesmannschaft refers to the organization of former residents of areas which have, since the wars, no longer been part of Germany. Various parts of West Germany sponsored groups from particular areas and Darmstadt hosted many "Balts", Germans who were forced to leave Estonia and Latvia in 1940/1941 and settled in Posen and later fled further west. The "liberation wars" refer to the wars fought within those two countries against communist forces in 1918-1919. In this context, members of the German military units Baltenregiment (Estonia) and the Baltische Landeswehr (Latvia) are remembering their dead. If I am not mistaken, the two crosses to the left and right of the iron cross on the plaque are the badges of those two military units.|
|The large plate on the right side of the church, on the other side of the cross, reads, "As a warning to the living / Hold on tightly to peace"|
|Near the edge of the church, in the entryway, this stone is in the ground. I am sorry the photo is so terrible. It reads, "Darmstadter Geschichtsrundgang 1933-1945". It no doubt refers to an annual city walk sponsored by a local history club or perhaps the city itself in which historical sites are viewed and explained.|
|The dates September 11-12, 1944 on a nearby wall refer to the allied bombing.|