Woodland Cemetery - Overview

Woodland Cemetery is one of six cemeteries owned and operated by the City of Kitchener. Established in the early 1930s, the fifty acre cemetery in the heart of Kitchener is a natural, wooded landscape imbued with what its website describes as European charm. 


Accessible by car and public transit, the peaceful and scenic cemetery is easy to navigate and offer numerous places to sit down and enjoy a quiet moment. 


Contact Information:

Phone - 519.741.2880

Fax - 519.578.7617 

E-mail - kitchener.cemeteries@kitchener.ca


Location:

119 Arlington Blvd.

Kitchener, Ontario

CANADA 

N2A 2G8


Office hours:

May-October

Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.


November-April

Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.



Woodland Cemetery


German War Graves in Canada


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German War Graves Section - Overview


The German War Graves Section of the Woodland Cemetery contains the remains of 187 prisoners of war that were held in Canada during, and in some cases after, the First and Second World Wars.


None of those currently interred at Woodland were originally buried in the cemetery.  In 1970 the bodies had been exhumed from other cemeteries located across Canada - 36 in total - and moved to Woodland. The decision to amalgamate the graves was a practicality; with all of the POW graves in one location it would be easier for the German War Graves Commission to maintain them.


The Woodland website states that the German War Graves Commission chose Kitchener after considering many other Canadian cities because of "ethics and geography". The argument that Kitchener is a somewhat central location in Canada can be understood, but it seems more likely that the decision was based on the city's ethnicity rather than its "ethics".


The city with its large German-Canadian population was originally known as Berlin. However, anti-German sentiment during the First World War demanded a name change, so as of September 1, 1916, the Berlin that was located in Ontario no longer existed. 


Kitchener must have seemed at the time an obvious - if not ironic - choice for the final resting place of German POWs.


Planning and creation of the German War Graves section, which is maintained by the City of Kitchener Cemeteries, commenced in 1961, and was completed in 1970 with the re-burial of the 187 POWs. 


The section encompasses three distinct areas: an entrance portal that consists of a War Graves Monument, a dedication plaque, and two low walls; a main area containing the graves and their headstones; and an open alcove at the back corner of the section that contains two original grave markers from another cemetery that were transferred to Woodland and are now regarded as commemorative markers.


The graves are laid out in five rows with one marker for every two graves. Rows 1 to 4 have 19 markers (38 graves) each. Row 5 has 18 markers (35 graves). For identification purposes, the grave markers documented here have been marked by their row and position within the row. For example, R2-14 would be the 14th marker in the second row. The first marker of each row is the one closest to the section entrance (see map below).


The Woodland website claims that many of the POWs buried in the section were Kriegsmarine personnel that had served on destroyers and U-boats. Others included Fallschirmjäger troops that had been captured at Dunkirk in 1940. A few are also said to be Austrians who had taken part in the campaign in Norway.


An annual Volkstrauertag (national day of mourning) Ceremony is held at the German War Graves Section on the third Sunday of every November (see the NEWS page of this website for more information and the main page for a countdown timer to the next ceremony).


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