Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » German National Day of Mourning (Salt Lake City event)

German National Day of Mourning (Salt Lake City event)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 29, 2009

Not Mormon history related, but perhaps of interest if you are in the area. There are German POWs from both World War I and World War II buried at Fort Douglas.


Sunday, 15th of November 2009
at the
Fort Douglas Military Cemetery

As many years in the past the German – American Community and the German Air Force will perform a common ceremony at the
Memorial Monument in Salt Lake City

In Germany this day is called “Volkstrauertag” and its meaning is partly similar to the “Memorial Day”
in the United States

Scheduled Ceremony

09:45 – 10:00 am Meeting place is the parking lot in front of the East Entrance of Fort Douglas Cemetery

10:00 – 10:10 am Ceremonial walk along the graves

10:10 – 11:00 am

– German Choir “Harmonie”
– Commemorative address / German Liaison Officer
– German Choir “Harmonie”
– Commemorative address / German Liaison Officer
– German Choir “Harmonie”
– Placing of the wreath, – Taps “Ich hatt einen Kameraden”
– German Choir “Harmonie”

11:00 am – End of the ceremony

This ceremony is open to the public. Many German – Americans and representatives of the US-Armed Forces will also attend, as many years in the past.

We would be pleased, if you could join us.

Paul Roth, Captain
German Air Force Liaison Officer, ALC Hill AFB



  1. Wow, I had no idea anyone did anything like this. How interesting.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — October 30, 2009 @ 12:50 am

  2. Michelle, if you have an occasion to mention this to your friends there, you can tell them that the graves are very well cared for, and marked individually with gravestones that are identical in size and shape to those of the American soldiers buried there. (I was at this cemetery this summer for my aunt’s burial next to her career-Army husband. Their grave is in the next row to the German graves, so I walked along and read the stones.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 30, 2009 @ 5:35 am

  3. My mother tells stories of German POW’s working on her father’s farm when she was child. She said her step-mother made sure they had a good dinner and early supper while they worked.

    Comment by JA Benson — October 30, 2009 @ 7:17 am

  4. That would be very interesting to attend.

    The German POW experience in the US is fasinating. I’m only a little familiar with it. My daughter did a project in her history class about some of the POW camps in Arkansas. I’ve also come across a little doing my own research. The impression I get is that unless the soldier was a member of the Nazi party/SS they were usually treated well.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 30, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  5. 3 and 4, I think that is generally true. There were German POW mess hall workers on at least one of the Texas air bases where both my parents served during WWII, and Mom said the US personnel formed some friendly, if shallow, relations with them. She said they were always asking about war news, not for any strategic value but just to know anything at all about their hometowns, but the Americans were forbidden to let them know anything at all.

    The great exception to the general good treatment of German POWs in WWII happened, of course, at Salina, Utah — fortunately not caused by a Utah man or a Mormon. See this story about some of those buried at Fort Douglas.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 30, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  6. After the war ended, some German POWs in Europe were put to work as cooks for the US army. My dad says that two things happened when the German cooks arrived in June 1945: the quality of the food improved substantially and the size of the cooks increased just as substantially. He suspects that the two were related: the cooks hadn’t eaten that well for six years, and they realized that they could continue eating that well only if the Americans were happy with their cooking.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 30, 2009 @ 8:15 am

  7. My late uncle, Robert Renwanz, was in a German prisoner of war camp for two years. I can assure you that he was not treated with such Christian charity and largesse. Because of his German ancestry he was singled out for special abuse because his family had ‘betrayed’ the fatherland by emigrating to the United States. Prison camp food, if it could be called that, was abysmal. The usual fare was potato peeling soup, ‘bread’ laced with sawdust and meal worms, and for one Christmas, a sausage that contained, among other things, a rat’s head.
    Being somewhat proficient in German from growing up with it in his home, he understood what the guards were planning vis a vis with any prisoner. This allowed him to give some advance warning to them. When his ability to comprehend the language was discovered, he was rewarded with beatings, starvation, and having his front teeth knocked out by a rifle butt. It is very commendable that this country did not treat the German prisoners in similar fashion as our men were treated in the Third Reich.

    Comment by Velikiye Kniaz — October 30, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  8. While tracting one day in the last area of my mission, my companion and I knocked on the door of an older gentleman. When he realized that we were Mormon missionaries, he shared with us his experience as a prisoner of war. If I remember correctly, he was in Alberta and got to know some Mormon families rather closely and fifty years after the war, still remembered them with affection, to the extent that he, a rather professional (read: upper class) German would visit extensively with the sister missionaries at his home. It was a rather unusual event for us. Usually we were talking to students and/or salt-of-the-earth types.

    Comment by Amy T — October 30, 2009 @ 8:49 am

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI