Niederbronn German cemetery

Niederbronn German cemetery

17 rue du Cimetiere militaire, Niederbronn-les-Bains
Liberation Route Europe

Niederbronn German cemetery

The German War Cemetery at Niederbronn les Bains holds the remains of 15.809 soldiers (4 per headstone) that died in this region during the final stages of the Second World. The Albert Schweitzer centre near the cemetery tells the story of 12 of the soldiers buried here.

Most of the soldiers buried at the Niederbronn War Cemetery died during Operation Nordwind, launched by Hitler on New Year’s Eve 1944. The operation was a desperate attempt to retake Alsace. Fierce battles erupted in villages such as Wingen-sur-Moder, Reipertswiller, Philippsbourg in the northern Vosges, Hatten and Rittershoffen north of Haguenau or Herrlisheim in the bridgehead north of Strasbourg.

After the war thousands of fallen German soldiers were buried in graves scattered all across the region. In 1961 these graves were relocated to the former American-German cemetery on a hill overlooking the strategic pass through Niederbronn to the plain.

Among the cemetery 1.500 graves are for unidentified soldiers. 2.200 graves belong to members of the Waffen-SS though this information is omitted on their headstones. The cemetery includes graves of 17 nationalities; a clear indication that the German army was partly reliant on foreign manpower during the final stages of the war.

The graves belonging to soldiers that died in June 1940 shows that the Maginot Line forts did stop some of the German forces.

Other burials include members of the Volkssturm – a militia unit created in October 1944 –, women ambulance drivers, several civilians and German prisoners of war who died removing mines after the war.

The cemetery and the smaller one in Bergheim near Colmar are maintained by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, a private association whose objective is to preach peace. It also manages the Albert Schweitzer Youth Center attached to the cemetery.

Three books hold the list of names of the deceased in the little room to the right of the entrance to the cemetery, should you want to see a particular headstone but they don’t give info on the unit, place of death etc.

The cemetery is open all day the year round, no entrance fee. The exhibition “War destinies” (destins de guerre) is open every day 9 am-6 pm.

17 rue du Cimetiere militaire, Niederbronn-les-Bains +33 3 88 80 81 27