History Military War

“All those buried here in Halbe were very young people, some didn’t even know how to spell Wehrmacht but were drafted all the same.”

Seven decades after the second World War ended in Berlin, Germany is still burying its dead. And here in the military graveyard in Halbe, an hour southeast of Berlin, hundreds of people have turned out to pay their respects to the latest soldiers to join the 27,000 already lying here.Most lost their lives here in Halbe in April 1945 in one of the last, vicious battles of the war. Among the graveside crowd is the bright-eyed 94-year-old Heinz Rothe. He was called up to the Wehrmacht as a 19 year old in 1939 and served in the 6th company of the 457th infantry division, known colloquially as the “Berlin Bears”, until he was captured in Romania in 1944.Rothe watches soldiers as young as he once was lower the small coffins into the grave, thinking about the 180 young men of his own company who once marched to war, and the 30 who returned. “I remember rushing forward in battle and noticing my comrades dropping away, one by one,” he says. “We had no time to go back for them, to give them a decent burial, so being here today brings me some peace.”

Seven decades after second World War, Germany is still burying its dead