In honour of the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, this coming Sunday (9 May) Andreas Schockenhoff, Coordinator of German-Russian Intersocietal Cooperation, will lay a wreath at the cemetery of the former “StaLag III A” prisoner of war camp near Luckenwalde.
He issued the following statement in Berlin today (6 May):
“By remembering soldiers taken as prisoners of war by the Germans during World War II, I would like to draw attention to a group of people that has long received too little attention in Germany. The fate of Soviet prisoners of war is particularly important to me; more than half of these prisoners – at least 2.5 million soldiers – died of starvation or disease under horrible conditions in overcrowded camps.
The 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War is an important moment also to acknowledge the suffering of the countless victims in prisoner of war camps on all sides.”
From the time it opened, shortly after the start of the Second World War, until the camp was liberated by the Red Army on 22 April 1945, soldiers from many different countries were held captive in the Luckenwalde prisoner of war camp. Citizens of 17 different countries are buried in the cemetery at the camp. A large majority of the roughly 5000 victims were members of the Red Army. The Luckenwalde cemetery thus symbolizes both the extent of the destruction wrought by the Second World War, started by Germany, as well as the incredibly heavy burden of the war that was borne by the Soviet Union.
The documentation centre at the Luckenwalde Museum features genuine camp objects, photos, film and archive material from the camp files that provide a tangible impression of the history behind the camp and what life there was like.
The memorial service on 9 May will include a visit to the documentation centre, a wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery’s main memorial plaque which is dedicated to the nationals of 17 different countries who died there, and a second wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet memorial.
The entire event is open to the press.