Tuebingen/Derendingen World War Memorials

Pictures and text by Mark R. Hatlie

These pictures were taken on August 17, 2005 at the St. Gallus church in Tuebingen/Derending, a few blocks from my home.

The Derendingen church memorial to World War One is very typical of German churches.
These lists of names are sometimes on the outside wall like this, sometimes they are in the entryway of the church, rarely they are in the church itself. The names are listed chronologically and the list is especially detailed in that the places where the men fell in battle or died of their wounds are listed along with the date. There are no missing. The cross on the top is suggestive of the military "iron cross". The top of the left column read, "In the World War 1914-1918 fallen for the Fatherland". The top on the right reads, "The thankful homeland for its sons".
Several of the names on the list of fallen are names that are still part of local life. Family Friesch (at the top of the section shown here) runs a plumbing business and their children go to school with my daughter. The name Roehm is shared by several families who still live here.
This photo (taken on 29 January, 2006) shows that someone has placed a wreath on the memorial. It has probably been there since the national day of mourning in November, but it is not one of the typical municipal wreaths such as found at many of the other local sites nearby.

The memorial to the Second World War is far simpler in this case - a large iron cross. There is no suggestion of "iron cross" in the military sense (the German medal of valor called "iron cross"). It is a clearly Christian cross. It hangs to the left of the World War One plaque. Down the middle the dates of the war are listed: 1939, 1940, 1941, etc. The horizontal bar reads, For the fallen and missing. There are no names, no locations.

Between the two memorials, a cross hangs on the wall, now (January 29, 2006) decorated with a wreath in the colors of Slovenia. The cross bears the name "Primus Truber", the 16th-century pastor at this church who brought the Reformation to Slovenia. This church is sometimes visited by tourist groups from that country.

Until I talk to some of the older people here in Derending who might be in the know, I can only speculate as to why they did not do another wall list like they had done following World War One or like the people in nearby Weilheim did for World War Two. Possible reasons include pragmatic reasons such as space or money. But they also include possibilities having to do with problems associated with the war itself.

One problem is the "missing" or POWs in the Soviet Union. If there are too many of them, or there is too much uncertainty as to when or if they might return, chisling names into stone is risky as the likelyhood of revision seems high. The city of Tuebingen solved this problem on their plaque down town by updating the plaque each time a POW returned or was reported deceased. By the late 1950s, there were only a few names with no known fate.

Another possible problem is that of inclusion. The war lasted longer and came to Germany itself, causing population displacement. There might have been ambiguity as to who can be to be "from" Derendingen. Or there may have been people whose inclusion might have caused potential embarassment, such as SS men or war criminals, so perhaps they decided to avoid the problem altogether.

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