When nature covers the war.
Today I went for a walk. I'm rediscovering my own environment. Nature, culture & art (or art) are the things that fascinate me every time. And if there is also a bit of history involved, I enjoy my walks twice as much. This week I was walking with an acquaintance and today I walked back a bit to better
and to take a different path. Was it beautiful weather of the week, today the sun failed but despite that it was wonderful running weather. What a nice place to be when autumn starts. If you want to know what I came across this week, you can read it in the blog I'm adding here.
When I made the aforementioned walk I came along a part of the Westwall.
The Westwall, along the western border of the German Empire (also called the Siegfriedlinie by the Allies), was a spread over about 630 km of military defense system consisting of more than 18,000 bunkers, underground corridors, numerous trenches and anti-tank blockers. It ran from Kleve on the Dutch border southwards to the Swiss border. Over time, small, fascinating biotopes have emerged in the concrete enclosed areas of the hump line (Höckerlinie).
The anti-tank barriers of the western wall are also called dragon teeth. You can see below in the pictures why that is a striking name. Today, less than 1% of bunker systems in North Rhine-Westphalia are still preserved. The remains of the hump line are now a memorial. Today I went for a walk in Herzogenrath (near Aachen) on the Dutch border. To see the dragon teeth, you don't really have to go looking. They just stand in meadows where the cows graze around. More interesting I find the dragon teeth in the woods. Where nature covers the war, and the dragon teeth are really absorbed into nature. The dragon teeth are “eaten”.
Isn't it nice to see the moss and the test of time take up the memorial again?
I find it a comforting thought that time softens memory.
If you are walking through the forest then of course you cannot - at least if you are “moi” - without looking for mushrooms. Now I was a bit disappointed how many mushrooms I encountered. But actually it is also early in autumn, very early because he has just arrived.
Besides, you don't really smoke them very much when you walked through the woods so it's kind of crazy that I was a little disappointed. But now I have a good reason to schedule a mushroom walk soon.
They are still very mini as you can see in the photo.
Here they bravely tried to find a spot on a tribe.
And then suddenly you pass a memorial. Van Lager Pley in Dutch Kamp Pley. I didn't even know there was a camp here. But here just across the border, several smaller camps appeared to be found. Now I understand that this is not something that people are proud of on German territory and that they do not want to pay too much attention to it. But the commemorative plaque
shows that they do not stick their heads in the sand. I understand by now that there is a great deal of attention in education. Or, as Vice-Mayor Harald Gerling of Würselen said in 2008, “Learn to master history so that atrocities such as those of the National Socialists do not repeat themselves in Germany or in the world.” (1)
The Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) was an organization set up by Nazi Germany to reduce unemployment. During the Second World War, the Reichsarbeitsdienst was deployed to support the Wehrmacht. The Reichsarbeitsdienst was established in July 1934 as a government organization for the provision of employment. The Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reichsarbeitsdienst) was a merger of various organizations which had been involved in the provision of employment during the period of the Weimar Republic. Members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst were employed in various civil, military and agricultural projects. (2)
In 1941- 1942 camp Pley became a sammellanger or in the Dutch concentration camp with the function of a collection and passage camp. A concentration camp for Jews had the primary function of isolating and concentrating the Jewish population and preparing for their deportation. Jewish prisoners were deported from police detention camps to ghettos, concentration camps or directly to extermination camps.
From 1942 it became a wangsarbeiterlager or a camp for forced workers. Compulsory workers, a multitude of different groups of people who were deported to the German Empire during the Second World War and had to work for the Nazi state and for the German economy under mostly humiliating conditions. From January 1942, the first “Eastern workers” were deported to the German Empire by train. The forced workers were called foreign workers or, if they came from the Soviet Union (mostly Ukraine or Russia), oriental workers. Among the forced workers were young people and children who were often torn or abducted from their parents. In agriculture and the (arms) industry, forced workers were employed, but also public institutions, the church and individuals asked for forced workers.
Compulsory workers were often humiliated, poorly fed and often received no wages. They had to do the hardest work. They were housed in forced labour camps, the main camps (called Stalag in the National Socialist language), often barracks camps, fenced with barbed wire. The sanitary and hygienic conditions in these barracks were extremely poor, as was the clothes. Especially Eastern workers lived in poorly self-built barracks and were forced to “go to work unshaded even in winter”. They were also often mistreated by the Germans: “People often rolled from the pain by the constant beating with rubber batons and ox pigs”. No occupational safety was applied to forced workers, thus exposing them to all health risks in the workplace. They weren't allowed to go to shelters if there was a bomb threat.
I remember the stories my mother told about her father who was also employed in Germany and had to work with the Eastern workers (I thought in the mine) and that he often smuggled food for these people. One of his “colleagues” once made a statuette for my mother for Easter or Christmas. So I suspect that in Camp Pley there will also be oriental workers employed.
Where the horses are grazing would have been Camp Pley. Surely you can hardly imagine that this peace-looking place was a horror spot for a lot of people.
And after the walk we sit on a terrace to drink a cup of hot white chocolate. I've never had hot white chocolate, but that's definitely worth repeating. With German whipped cream (well...) but you dissolve it with a bag of sugar and mini marshmallows.