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The Grieving Parents in Vladslo

The Grieving Parents in Vladslo

The Grieving Parents in Vladslo

German soldier Peter Kollwitz was not yet 18 years old when he was killed on 23 October 1914 while attempting to cross the Yser near Diksmuide.

As a tribute to her fallen son, Peter's mother and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz designed 'The Mourning Parents.' The sculpture group represents Peter Kollwitz's grieving parents. The sculpture was first erected in 1932 at the former Roggeveld cemetery in the Diksmuide's hamlet of Esen.

After that cemetery was cleared, Peter's body and the sculpture group moved to the current German military cemetery in Vladslo. The sculpture group was included in the Flemish canon as an expression of the universal suffering of World War I and was proclaimed as Flanders' most striking masterpiece. The cemetery itself was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2023.

'Degenerate' art

The National Socialists did not like Kollwitz's work. In the run-up to World War II, they declared her sculptures 'entartet' (or degenerate) and forced her to resign from the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts. 

A few days before the end of World War II, on 22 April 1945, Käthe Kollwitz died. She is buried in Friedrichsfelde cemetery in Berlin. 

Vladslo cemetery 

The first German war dead were buried in the Praatbos as early as October 1914, during the Battle of the Yser. Several German cemeteries were brought together in Vladso in the 1950s. It is estimated that more than 25,000 German soldiers are now buried there.

In the Praatbos behind the cemetery, you still come across some concrete bunkers and a German memorial wall.

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