This is the memorial in Karlshagen. During the 60’s, on the southside of this cemetery a mass grave was discovered containing 56 dead. Some of them had bullet holes in their skull, indicating that they had been executed. It is presumed these victims were slave labourers or prisoners of war, who were forced to work on the construction of the Peenemünde installations.
The ceremonial reburial of these dead took place on 30th of may 1968 when they were placed next to the 2000 bomb victims of the air raids on Peenemünde and Karlshagen of the 17th and 18th of august 1943, Operation Hydra, and the 17th of july 1944.
In addition to this, a memorial for forced workers and the victims of national socialism, was built, to replace the high cross for the victims of the bomb attacks on Peenemünde and Karlshagen. The inauguration of the monument took place on the 8th of may 1970.
In the years 1994/95, there was a transformation of the memorial. The square in front of the cenotaph was reduced to a smaller size and on the right a plaque was installed that commemorates the victims of the second world war in Karlshagen en Trassenheide.
The plaque reads:
“Also seid ihr verschwunden aber nicht vergessen
Niedergeknuppelt aber nicht widerlegt
Zusammen mit allen unverbesserbar weiterkämpfenden
Hier ruhen slachtopfer des faschismus”.
I took the liberty of translating it to English:
“Even though you have disapeared, you are not forgotten
Struck down but never refuted
Together with all who continued to fight without doubt
Here rest the victims of fascism”.
There is also another mass grave containing 213 dead, amongst them are 21 Polish, 23 Ukrainians, 17 French, 66 of unknown nationality and 16 forced labourers.
Visit the Ehrenmal in Karlshagen
When we visited Peenemünde and Karlshagen, it was the start of the holiday season. Peenemünde is a favourite tourist destination nowadays, with lots of recreation parks and beach resorts. We were kind of worried we had to push and shove some people out of the way in order to take some descent pictures (we are way past asking politely in tourist places!). But this was not the case at all.
The cemetery and memorial even made a kind of forgotten impression. And it was as if the gardners had waited for the first visitors to come along, because they only started to clear the headstones of the overgrowth an hour after we got there. We even took some shots again after they had done some work. The cemetery is just beside the “Hauptstrasse”, meaning main street and very easy to find.
If you want to stay overnight in Karlshagen or Peenemünde during the summer, be smart and book in advance. If you stay in either place, most of the Peenemünde sites like the Kraftwerk or the Sauerstoffwerk II are nearby.