Close to the area known as the 'Three Country Region' (Germany, France and Luxembourg), along the famed 'Mosel Wine Street', Perl is a sleepy little town, basking
in traces of history. Old and new history, with Roman and Celtic roots embedded in the grounds: Roman era mosaics have been found in the village of Nennig, a part
of the municipality of Perl. 'Schloss Berg' and the 'Palace von Nell' relate to later pages in Perl history, while the bridge across the Mosel connects Perl with Schengen
(Luxembourg), and the most recent entry in the book of modern Perl history, being the creation of Europe's borderless 'Schengen' Area in 1995. History is all around.
The Perl-Besch Military Cemetery is situated on higher rounds in the middle of a patch of woods. The Perl cemetery is the final resting place of 2229 fallen of WWII.
1279 German fallen and 950 fallen of other nations, as is stated on the plaque of the building, which gives way to the cemetery grounds. But we were not prepared for
what we were about to see at this WWII Cemetery, pretty much unlike any other cemetery we've ever visited. Here is our extended photo report. You'll be the judge.
First view of the Perl-Besch WWII Cemetery. At the right, the three crosses, standing atop the remains of a Westwall bunker. At the left the flower field with German graves.
The crosses and stones in an arrangement of planted and natural wild flowers. Unlike any other WWII Cemetery we have ever seen.
Lines of stones, with names of fallen German soldiers, along winding paths. 1279 stones, would be an educated guess... but not all stones are easily found.
Men of all ranks, units and ages. With the dates of their deaths ranging from 1939 to as late as mid 1945.
Many unknown, some with titles, even of old military families.
'Zimmerman' born in 1900, killed in the early days of Battle of the Bulge - Erich Kresinski, Reiter (Cavalryman), born 1916, fallen in December 1939.
Kanonier, fallen in February 1940 - Arbeitsmann, fallen in June of 1940.
A medic killed in France - a 17 year old sailor...
At the left side of the cemetery, there is a concrete structure with inscriptions on both sides. On top a piece of paper where once a plaque was. The plaque was stolen in 2012.
'On this field...' That is what the inscription tells us. But the field beyond this structure is a field of grass. No crosses. No markers, no indicators. Is it a mass grave?
Where are the 950 graves of the fallen from Yugoslavia, Letland, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Czechoslovakia? We took a closer look at the field. And the woods around it...
Underneath the grass, that had been mowed not too long ago, judging by the dried out cuttings on top of the fresh grass, we found two little stones. You see them?
We found lines of stones in the field, buried onder grass and soil, many chipped by electric mowing. Some lines disappearing into the woods. Some stones tossed in the dirt.
950 persons were lay at rest... in this field... their markers underneath the grass... The grass cut at a certain height, so it can be cut by a machine, without damaging the stones.
Were these men captured soldiers, the Reich's forced laborers, maybe Ost Legion troops? Maybe without any papers, or military ID. Maybe papers got lost in the fog of war?
950 stones, almost all of them hidden. A field of invisible stones. Forgotten markers of the dead. Who would know if the entrace sign and concrete structure were also stolen?
In the end, nature will reclaim all remnants of history, once we will stop commemorating. And we could be judged by the way we handle our past.
© Paratrooper Research Team - Perl German War Cemetery