At the very back of the German War Graves Section is a three-sided, open alcove constructed of fieldstones. The alcove contains two wooden grave markers that were moved along with the remains of two POW from their original grave site. A small plaque on the wall between the markers provides a brief glimpse into their origin.
Two of the three alcove walls contain three narrow windows; uncertain as to the design intent behind the alcove, it's difficult to say what the windows were meant to represent. One perspective is that they mimic the shape of the wooden markers and simulate a continuing row of graves. Others might feel that the narrow openings resemble the shooting slits that are a common feature of military defenses, which makes the alcove feel more like a bunker than a place of quiet contemplation.
Built into the south wall of the alcove are two stone benches. They are the only places in the German War Graves Section where visitors can sit and spend a moment with their thoughts.
War Graves Monument & Memorial Alcove
German War Graves in Canada
German War Graves Monument and Marker
The most prominent and immediately visible feature when you visit the German War Graves Section is the large stone cross that marks the northern boundary of the area. In front of the cross is a marker embedded in the ground that briefly explains the history of the German War Graves Section. It is in this general area that the Volkstrauertag (national day of mourning) ceremonies are held every year.
Although the ornate and skillfully-made markers are now in a well preserved state, it's unfortunate that both have been drastically altered over the years.
Originally much taller, the markers have been cut down in size, presumably either because their bases had rotted or had been permanently fixed in place at the Gravenhurst cemetery.
Far more tragic is that these handcrafted monuments were vandalized in 1978, intentionally defaced at the insistence of one reactionary Canadian Legion member who lacked both perspective and respect.
Soldat (Private) Erich Ertz was an Iron Cross recipient, and consequently the medal had been carved into the base of his grave marker. It was removed.
Similarly, Major Wilhelm Bach, a hero and greatly admired soldier who fought in Rommel's Afrika Korps, had a marker that was adorned with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross that he won for outstanding bravery on the field of battle. The swastika, which is an integral part of the medal, was chiseled off his monument.
For those interested in a photo of Bach's monument as it looked when it stood at Gravenhurst can be found in the POW History pages of this website.