Hill Cemetery Bergfriedhof in Tuebingen

Pictures and text by Mark R. Hatlie

I had the good fortune to be at this site on the late afternoon of November 1, 2005 - All Saints Day. Not only did I catch the cemetery in the fading glow of a beautiful fall day, perfect for the somber mood, but the site was "active". There was a memorial service going on and there were lots of fresh candles and flowers.

The military cemetery to the fallen of World War Two and the memeorial ensemble are only a short distance to the right of the gate of the cemetery. There is a section set aside, across the path from what used to be the morgue, but it is not blocked off from the rest of the cemetery with fences or hedges...

...the markers just appear in the trees to the right. Under the conditions I found - the long shadows, the carpet of leaves, the fading light, and the unexpected appearance of the graves, it was almost spooky.
There were no names on the pairs of crosses, which served only for emotive effect.
The names and dates of the fallen were on small, brick-sized stones in rows along the pathways.
There were more graves than I had expected. I estimated over 300 by counting rows of stones.
Here is how the cemetery looked on the morning of 21 January, 2006.
Some few of the fallen had visitors and a special, personal remembrance that day.
While others are forgotten or remembered from some other place. This is a good example of the kinds of function these places serve.
Here is a somewhat less elaborate recognition of a visit to a particular stone.
A small crowd had gathered for an All Saints Day remembrance at the far end of the field of grave markers.
There was a priest, there were several nuns and acolytes, and 20-30 mostly elderly people. They sang a final song and, when the crowd broke up, so did the mood of solemnity. They immediately began to talk with each other, faces smiling.
The memorial ensemble bears no immediately recognizeable writing, but the three crosses speak symbolically of Golgotha.
The wreath is personally dedicated and reads, Manfred and Freia and Family, in loving memory. The inscription on the stone is illegible below the sea of flowers and candles.
This is a picture of the same spot on the morning of January 22, 2006. The private, family wreath had been put gently aside and the city wreath placed in the center. The text on the stone was now legible: Honor for the dead / a warning for us (Den Toten zu Ehr / Uns zur Mahnung).
On the other side of the path, there are four (again nameless) crosses and 12 stones with names, birth dates and death dates of men and women. Most of the names recorded there died on 15 January, 1945. The rest died in the following few weeks. The sign at the main gate of the cemetery had indicated an "Air Raid Memorial" at approximately this location, so I assume these are 12 people in Tuebingen killed in a January bombing. That was probably the attack on the freight train station in which some houses were also hit and civilians killed. There were other smaller air attacks on Tübingen as well, but casualties were very low.
The dead included several women. I asked one of the eldest-looking visitors from the ceremony if she had been in Tuebingen in January of 1945. She had. But she couldn't tell me what had happened on the 15th because she, "had been working in a bank and had a sick sister to care for". I would imagine that even people in banks would remember an air raid.
This plaque hangs on the wall on the back of the structure that forms the entry gate to the cemetery. It is only visible when walking back toward the gate from the military section of the cemetery. (Photo: 21 January, 2006)
It reads, Regiment 35 / For our fallen and missing comrades / Fearless and loyal. The wreath reads, Your comrades in loyal remembrance. The coat of arms represents the German province/state of Wuerttemberg. (Photo: 21 January, 2006)

Not surprisingly, I suppose, the priest also showed little interest in specific incidents related to the memorial and cemetery. When I asked him about it all, he did not know of the air raid memorial and emphasized that they were there to remember all the dead. He seemed uninterested in my questioning attempts to get him to differentiate the information he gave me between the military cemetery, the memorial crosses, the air raid section, etc. For him, true to the holiday, it was about all the dead.

Thanks to Martin Ulmer from the Tübingen Geschichtswerkstatt for information on the air raid.

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