Friday, January 24, 2014

A Cemetery in Bitburg

Back in November, Husband and I stopped by Bitburg's Kolmeshöhe Ehrenfriedhof to take some wintertime photos.  We don't go to this cemetery often, but we always try to bring visitors here, because this small place in this small town has an interesting story

In 1985, American President Ronald Reagan made a controversial visit here while en route to Bonn. To make a long story short, his public appearance and wreath-laying with Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl was arranged without the President's realizing that some SS soldiers, most of whom died at age 17 or 18, are buried here. Rather than canceling the visit and embarrassing Chancellor Kohl, and probably straining emerging ally relations, Reagan went ahead with the brief stop.

A friend of ours who lived here for many years, and was present to hear Reagan's speech at the nearby NATO airbase that day, told us that what was reported in the news and what she saw and heard that day were two different things. Propaganda, anyone? I'm sure it happened on both sides of the argument.

It was reported that while Reagan did lay a wreath at the wall of remembrance, he did not look at the graves at all.

Did you know that there's even a Ramones song, "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," about this historical event? Let's just say it's not exactly complimentary of Reagan's decision!


BavarianSojourn said...

I had no idea about that. I am afraid that all I know about Bitburg is the bier is nice! :/

Hausfrau said...

Ha! Don't worry--that's all most people in Germany know about Bitburg!

Cher-Ann Texter said...

What an interesting story! I've always been a fan of cemeteries (grew up in one as my parents were caretakers and monument-makers) especially ones with a story! Thank you for sharing!

Christina Hecht said...

I have always loved visiting old cemeteries. None of them have had as interesting of a story of as this one though. :)
Stopping by from #SITSBlogging.

Hausfrau said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cher-Ann and Christina!

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