Remembering Lives Lost on the German National Day of Remembrance

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SALT LAKE CITY — People gathered at the Fort Douglas Military Cemetery and around the world to celebrate the German National Day of Remembrance.

Enemies turned allies, Germans and Americans came together to celebrate this German holiday — also known as Volkstrauertag.  

Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, said, “I realized how former enemies can become great friends.”

Dozens gathered to commemorate and mourn the 41 German Prisoners of War from WWI to WWII, buried right here in Utah. 

Uchtdorf said, “But it is much more — the commemoration has been expanded and includes many more occasions that is violent oppression because of race, religion, and conviction.”

For WWII survivor, Inge Ettrich, this commemoration hit particularly close to home. Inge shared, “I’m from Germany and so this is very personal because I also lost all of my young married uncles in WWII. This makes me very sad, too.”

Not only was this a day of commemorating lost lives, but November 9th marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Honorary Consul for the Federal Republic of Germany, James Burton, said, “It stood as a great separator — separating not only people and families, but also as an attempt to separate and limit mindsets and beliefs.”

Germans and Americans both recalled the day the literal and symbolic separation came down. 

“When that wall came down, hallelujah!,” Inge exclaimed. 

“30 years ago, the impossible became reality. And the people of Germany found a peaceful way to end the iron curtain of Europe,” Elder Uchtdorf explained. 

Moving forward, the speakers shared messages of peace and hope for individuals and nations alike. 

Elder Uchtdorf encouraged people to be at peace with one another. “We can — and we should — be a people of peace and reconciliation,” he said.

In addition to these hopeful words, speakers also paid tribute to other late soldiers from all other nations around the world. 

Although this is a German holiday, the event here in Salt Lake City has been running for the last 42 years and the facilitators plan on hosting it for years to come at the Fort Douglas Military Cemetery. 

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