Hans from Denmark
Hans Helmut from Denmark stands solemnly at the grave of his grandfather’s brother-in-law Hans Bonde, at Langemark cemetery. As he lifts his head, his eyes wander across the wide open fields behind the cemetery.
Langemark cemetary

100 years ago, this now peaceful landscape was devastated due to constant shelling. The origins of Langemark cemetery began with a small group of German graves in 1915. Hans Bode, who fell on 27 January 1915, must have been one of the first soldiers to be buried here.  Today over 44,000 Germans found their last resting place at Langemark, including more than 3,000 student volunteers.

Hans Bonde, although of Danish origin, was drafted into the German army in the beginning of the war as a result of the German annexation of the two Danish duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864. During the Great War some 30,000 men from Southern Jutland (now Denmark) served in the German military at some point.

Hans Helmut remembers that “Hans was a Reservist and he was fatally wounded by a grenade while he was out on guard. We know all the details because a close friend of his wrote a letter to my family to inform them about his death.”

Langemark Cemetary
Intrigued by history and his family’s involvement in the Great War, Hans Helmut has already visited Flanders Fields on five occasions. This time he brought back a bunch of local flowers from Denmark, a piece of home, for his fallen relative.

What Hans Helmut enjoys most is to “wander around and discover the small streets away from the beaten tracks.”

“There are so many things to see here, but people should really visit the cemeteries from all sides of the conflict. You can visit all the memorials and graveyards and still not comprehend how this happened… Once in a while I just sit down and watch the world and the people passing by,” Hans Helmut explains and falls silent for a moment. “It is Albert Schweitzer who once said ‘Peace goes through the graveyards’” Hans Helmut concludes, looking over the rows of headstones at Langemark cemetery.

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