Posts tagged ‘ww1’

Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

Although I’ve been to Verdun four times, it was a first time for me when I stopped at Fleury last month. It lays right next to the Verdun Memorial and just two kilometers away from the Douaumont Ossuary. When the Battle of Verdun began, the population of roughly 400 evacuated the village in a hurry. It is said that soldiers found half-eaten meals on the kitchen tables.

After 300 days of hell and after up to 60 million shells were fired, there was nothing left of the little village. Today, only signs show the visitors which buildings had to make room for destruction and the craters that are left. Fleury-devant-Douaumont and other eight villages in the region that suffered the same fate are called “villages detruit”, destroyed villages.


The road leading to the Verdun Memorial


A wooden sculpture of a ‘Poilu’, a French infantryman


Fleury is still a commune, although its population is ‘0’. The only building is the chapel which was built in 1979.


Signs like the one in the bottom left corner show what was there before. In this case, you’re looking at a cafe.


The memorial for the fallen of the village


Nikon D5300
Nikon DX VR AF-P NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
iPhone 6s


Adobe Lightroom CC

Ossuaire de Douaumont, France

During my little military history trip, I spent the night in Verdun, France. Verdun is a well-known name in the history of World War One in Germany and France. It was a long battle which began on February 21st and ended on December 19th, 1916. A lot of the fighting happened on the Douaumont hill. Around 250,000 German and French soldiers died and much more suffered injuries or are missing.

In 1932, French President Lebrun inaugurated the Douaumont Ossuary. 130,000 unknown fallen soldiers from both nations lay here. Through little windows, people can look at the bones and skulls.

I arrived in the afternoon when it was about to get dark. With some spare time after driving to a nearby German War Cemetery, I decided to visit the ossuary and call it a day. I was glad I made that decision. Upon arriving, French servicemen faced the cemetery in front of the ossuary and sung a song. Unluckily, I wasn’t able to identify it.

dsc_0822-a-2dsc_0826-aI love the photos above. Lightroom CC did most of the work. Played with the highlights and clarity, but the result is astonishing.

This is from the top of the ossuary. With 16,142 graves, it’s the largest French cemetery of World War One.

This one is from my iPhone 6s with a quick edit using the Lightroom mobile app. It’s hard to see, but one section of the cemetery looks slightly different. These are fallen Muslims, facing East. The building visible in the middle of the photo is the memorial for the Muslim soldiers. A memorial for the Jewish dead is on the Western side of the cemetery.

These two photos are from the next morning. I visited Fleury, a destroyed village, and the Verdun Memorial.

Nikon D5300
Nikon DX VR AF-P NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
iPhone 6s

Adobe Lightroom CC
Adobe Lightroom iPhone

Ysselsteyn, Netherlands – IV

This will be my second to last post about the German War Cemetery in Ysselsteyn. I didn’t want my website to become a catalog for war cemeteries, but with my book project, I have some more sites to visit. At least for Ysselsteyn, I only have one more post coming and I promise to squeeze in a few non-cemetery posts once in a while 😉

We got to this place in the morning, and there was still frost and fog everywhere. My favorite photo is the one with the sun rays coming through the trees. The stone plates along the way are Kameradengräber, graves with multiple fallen soldiers. I had to underexpose the photo and add contrast to make it look the way it does now, but for my second day using Lightroom, I think it’s alright.

I used my Nikon D5300 and edited the images with Adobe’s Lightroom CC.

Lommel, Belgium

I finally bought a new camera. As a beginner, I decided on a Nikon D5300 and got two lenses, as well. Of course, I had to give it a thorough test run.
When I took the photos of the Langemark cemetery, I had the idea to collect pictures of war cemeteries in Europe, edit, put them together in a book, and possibly publish them. This Saturday, a friend of mine and I traveled to Ysselsteyn in the Netherlands, and to Lommel, Belgium. Ysselsteyn gave us some nice photos which I will post in a few days. While Ysselsteyn is the largest German war cemetery, Lommel has the most burials from World War Two. Around 39,000 compared to the 32,000 in Ysselsteyn. The site in Belgium is smaller, though, because two or more fallen rest under each cross. Usually, there is one name on each side. Sometimes, many unknown soldiers share one grave or, like in the first picture, a whole crew gets one plaque. I took a photo of the crew because the plate looked relatively new, all died on the same day, and I wanted to figure out what happened to them. After a little research, I found out that they were the crew of a Junkers Ju-88 night fighter that got shot down by anti-air cannons during Operation Bodenplatte. The website listed the three airmen as MIA, so it’s possible that they were found recently.

I used my new Nikon D5300 DSLR camera and played around with a trial version of Adobe’s Lightroom CC and a free alternative called Darktable 2.0. I’m not exactly sure which came from Darktable and which from Lightroom. The photos from inside the crypt are polished with Bergen’s Darkroom and Adobe’s Lightroom app.

Ysselsteyn, Netherlands – III

The last photos I thought are worth uploading. I took the vast panorama in the middle of the gallery while standing midst of the cemetery. The big cross you saw in the previous post is right behind me in that one.
Again, all photos come from the iPhone 6 camera. I did the editing with Google’s Nik Collection.

Originally, I wanted to add a short clip I found on YouTube, but then I found this long video from user “Longa Via Est” with a version of “Nothing Else Matters” in the background. You’ll see everything of the cemetery. At around three minutes, you’ll also see the monument and the graves of the fallen from WW1.

Ysselsteyn, Netherlands – II

Four more photos from Ysselsteyn. A huge cross stands in the middle of the cemetery. Might be the only point where you can overview the whole cemetery.

The only German War Cemetery in the Netherlands has graves for the fallen of WW1, too (the two photos on the left). Graves of 85 Navy men surround a monument.


Ysselsteyn, Netherlands – I

In September 2015, my wife I and came back from a trip to The Hague. On the way, we stopped at the Ysselsteyn German War Cemetery. According to the War Graves Commission; it is the (physically) largest German War Cemetery on the planet. 31,598 graves, most of them single graves, make it a huge and sad place. When entering the cemetery, it’s not possible to see the other side.
Graves for one serviceman only are not very common for German War Cemeteries. The first GWC I visited was in Sandweiler, Luxembourg. Many graves have six names engraved. Before Ysselsteyn, Andilly in France was the largest I visited. Here, 33,123 fallen rest in peace.

American and British readers will be surprised seeing that these cemeteries are nothing like theirs. What I like about the German sites is that they are unique. Ysselsteyn caught me off guard when I noticed the enormous amount of crosses. Sometimes you don’t have crosses (see Langemark), at times there are mass graves (especially the WW1 cemeteries), and for some cemeteries, you have to drive out into the wilderness to find the hidden sites. Nothing fancy, no golden gates. To me, they teach that war isn’t pretty. As a serviceman, I look at those locations differently than the regular tourist.

I found the photos on an iPhone 6 backup and edited them with the Nik Collection. I will upload more photos after the weekend. In around two weeks, I will visit some other military cemeteries in Europe, including Andilly and Sandweiler, where I will take some more photos. Hopefully, with my new camera.