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wicklore
2011-04-22 22:05:37
"The German Graveyard" from wicklore Contract pics
Picture: The German Graveyard (Contract pics)

The Military Road: The German Graveyard
Having recently written about the German Graveyard as a summit comment for Knocknagun, I want to include it as a General Forum post in relation to the Military Road. The Military Road was completed in 1809 and runs for about 55 kms through the heart of the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains. It was built in the wake of the 1798 Rebellion to open up the Wicklow Mountains to the British Army to assist them in reaching insurgents. These days the road gives access to many hidden and little known curiosities

The road passes just above the hamlet of Glencree which is home to the unique German Military Cemetery. It is situated in an old landscaped quarry. Under the exposed granite rock face sit several rows of crosses and plaques commemorating those German citizens who lost their lives in Ireland during World Wars I and II. Although neutral, Ireland did not escape the effects of the military action during the wars. Several German military aircraft crashed here, variously due to poor weather, damage sustained over the North, lack of fuel or navigational errors. Many German naval personnel were also found washed up around the country. In a sad twist of fate, the graveyard also contains the bodies of 46 German civilians who were being shipped from England to Canada for internment when their ship, the Arandora Star, was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Tory Island in Donegal in 1940. The graveyard also contains 6 soldiers from the First World War. They died while prisoners in a British prisoner of war camp located in Ireland.

Dr. Hermann Gortz is also buried at Glencree. As a spy, Gortz parachuted into County Meath in 1940. His mission was to enlist the IRA’s assistance during a potential German invasion of Britain. He was eventually arrested in possession of files on possible military targets in Ireland, as well as information on "Plan Kathleen". This was an IRA plan for the invasion of Northern Ireland with the support of the German military. Görtz was interned until the end of the war. When he was paroled in 1947 he was informed he would be deported to Soviet Germany. Terrified, he swallowed a cyanide capsule. He was buried in a Dublin cemetery, and in 1974 his remains were transferred to Glencree

In total there are 134 Germans buried in the Cemetery. This includes 81 naval and air service men, of whom the identities of only fifty three are known. The Cemetery is situated next to a rushing stream, which provides an atmospheric backdrop to the aura of this solemn and peaceful place. So if you happen to be walking nearby why not take the time to visit this quiet little corner of Irish history. A poem by Stan O Brien says it all:

“It was for me to die
.
Under an Irish sky

There finding berth

Under good Irish earth.

What I dreamed and planned

Bound me to my Fatherland.

But War sent me

To sleep in Glencree.

Passion and pain

Were my loss-my gain:

Pray, as you pass

To make Good my loss”
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