Histoire contemporaine du Luxembourg

The Politics of Graves – Negotiations, Practice and Reactions about Fallen German Soldiers of World War Two and Their Resting Places in Russia

The coming to terms with the past is essential as a negotiating point in interstate relations, especially in the consequences of the Second World War. Not only the question towards compensation, guilt and victimhood but as well in numbers and losses of humans - and their remains. The dealing of the commemoration of the dead and their resting places makes an integral part in the history politics. After the end of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation signed an agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany on the war graves in both countries. Based on this document, the German War Grave Commission is allowed to work on the Russian territory, recovering, exhuming and building new cemeteries for the German dead. Its workflow and the access to the former soldier graves consist not without difficulties. Starting with the diplomatic and political issue of the traces of the Wehrmacht in Russia and the Soviet Union, continuing with gaining access and the permission for excavations and constructing new burial grounds in Russia, the work of the German organisation met obstacles, reservations and incomprehension. The cemetery constructions were restricted by local negotiations partners. Protests appeared by veterans and the local population. The fallen Wehrmacht soldiers, who attacked the Soviet Union and committed crimes against humanity, trigger very controversial discussions alongside the official Russian narrative of the Great Patriotic War. Based on the negotiations regarding the graves of the deceased, a policy about historical images arose, which can be interpreted as politics of graves

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