Pictures and text by K. Michael Prince
Photographed in Munich's northern municipal cemetery (Nordfriedhof), January 2008
|"Field of Honor to Victims of the Air War" (Ehrenhain für Luftkriegsopfer)|
|Marker toward the western end of the "Field of Honor." The inscription reads: "To the Victims of the Air War" (Den Opfern des Luftkrieges). The site is centrally placed directly inside one of the main entrances to the northern cemetery complex.|
|Overview of the "Field of Honor" from the western end. The site is roughly the size of a football field.|
|Overview from the eastern end.|
|Bronze memorial, created by Hans Wimmer, designed in the shape of a bomb, pointed skywards. The memorial contains scenes reminiscent of the last judgement.|
|Closer view of the memorial. The inscription reads from Romans 11:33 (without naming the passage, however): "O depths of richness of God's wisdom and judgement / How unfathomable are his ways. Amen." (O Tiefe des Reichtums der Weisheit und Erkenntnis Gottes / wie unerforschlich seine Wege. Amen.)|
|Another view of the memorial.|
|A detail of the memorial showing collapsing structures, with skeletons of the dead below.|
|Wreath at the base of the bronze memorial by the Deutsche Kriegsgraeberfuersorge (Society for the Care and Maintenance of German War Graves). The wreath was probably placed there during commemorative services for Volkstrauertag (Day of Mourning), which takes place on November 11 of each year.|
|One of the burial section (Graeberfeld) markers within the site.|
|A marker for one row of individual plots. All the plot markers lie flush to the ground.|
|An individual plot marker, made of porcelain.|
|Mass grave marker. The inscription reads: "Here lie eighty victims of the air war." (Hier ruhen achtzig Opfer des Luftkrieges.)|
|"Field of Honor" in winter.|
|A touch of irony: Roughly one block from and within sight of the "Field of Honor" stands one of the massive above-ground air raid shelters (Hochbunker) erected during the Second World War for the city's civilian population.|
|The air-raid bunker.|
Established in 1943, the Field of Honor for Victims of the Air War originally lay outside Munich's northern municipal cemetery (Nordfriedhof) into which it has since been incorporated. Early on, the Nordfriedhof was the scene of mass funeral services conducted for propaganda purposes by the Nazi regime. The aim was to dramatize the Allies' "terror campaign" against German civilians in hopes of thereby strengthening the public's will to fight. These ceremonies were discontinued after air attacks against the city became more frequent, where public ceremonies could only serve as a reminder of the regime's inability to adequately protect its population from the effects of war.
The bodies of bombing victims not interred in private plots were at first distributed to various cemeteries across Munich. These were later disinterred and placed together at this memorial site. The Field of Honor underwent redesign in 1959 and the last reinterment took place in 1963. The field contains 2,099 dead.
In addition to a large bronze memorial placed toward its eastern end, the field also contains several smaller, upright stone markers (most without inscription), which are meant to symbolize the remnants of a destroyed city.
Deutsche Kriegsgräberstätten von Ägypten bis Usbekistan http://www.volksbund.de/kgs/stadt.asp?stadt=51207
Muenchner Begraebnisvereing e.V. Der Nordfriedhof in München http://www.mbv-ev.de/pressebereich/nordfriedhof.html
Oktober anno dazumal Bemerkenswertes, Kurioses und Alltägliches aus der Münchner Stadtchronik http://www.muenchen.de/Rathaus/dir/stadtarchiv/chronik/146299/102005.html