In Britain we commemorate the dead from British and allied countries who were lost, not only in the First World War, but those who have been lost in wars and conflicts since.
But this weekend just a week before Remembrance Sunday and by pure coincidence, I was visiting friends in West Flanders and learned about some First World War German war graves of victims from that third and final battle for Ypres, and I began thinking about how Remembrance must be for the families of those who died fighting against the Allies.
There are four remaining German cemeteries in Western Flanders, at Menen, Vladslo, Hooglede and Langemark. Until 1955 there were more than 70 in the province, but it was decided then to concentrate them into the larger sites.
Among the 25,000 buried at Langemark include 3,000 volunteers, up to 600 of which were young students. A memorial panel with a cut-out poppy is surrounded at its base by a ‘field’ of forged bronze poppies and at its centre a single flower painted white.
Meanwhile, nearby Vladslo, was originally the final resting place of soldiers from the battle of the Yser in 1914, but since the war graves were reconfigured to the main four sites, the cemetery now holds the remains of 25,644 German soldiers.
One such soldier was Peter Kollwitz, who died on October 23, 1914, while fighting near Diksmuide. After 1918 and the end of the war his mother Ǩathe, a prominent artist, produced a number of works protesting against the war. From 1928 she was a professor at the Berlin Academy and, because of her protestations against the futility of war, she was forced to leave and declared a degenerate when the Nazis came to power in 1938.
Another wartime tragedy followed when her grandson died on the Russian Front and, when her home in Berlin was bombed, she lost many of her drawings and plates. She died just weeks before the end of the Second World War on April 22, 1945. But in honour of her fight against the wars she hated so much, two statues The Grieving Parents, inspired by her earlier work were placed at Vladslo.
They make a poignant centrepiece as they watch over the graves of her son Peter, and so many other sons and fathers sacrificed in a war, they said would be the end of all wars.