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The German Military Cemetery at Cassino contains the remains of over 20,000 German servicemen who lost their lives in the fighting in Italy during World War II. Unlike the British and American military cemeteries, the German cemetery is maintained by a private organization, the German War Graves Commission, which finances its work mainly through the contributions of its members and donors.
The Commission was founded in 1919 at the end of World War I and established cemeteries throughout Germany. Its work was hampered during World War II as the army’s grave registration services took over the task of burying the war dead. The Commission was re-established in 1946 and in 1954 Chancellor Konrad Adenauer designated the Commission to begin searching to find and care for German military dead and cemeteries outside of German borders. The Commission arranges for young Germans and school children to visit and help maintain the sites. German soldiers also contribute to maintenance.
Through a bilateral agreement in 1955, Germany and Italy agreed that German soldiers killed in action throughout the fighting in Italy during World War II would be re-interred in a few central cemeteries. In 1964, the German cemetery in Cassino was created and over 20,000 German soldiers have been laid to rest for the final time here.
The site hardly mentions “World War II” but instead refers to the years of the fighting and contains simple cross headstones. Each gravestone holds up to 6 names and no unit identifications are included. Very few officers are included here. The site spirals up a hill to a small clearing at the top with a simple cross of iron. On the hilltop are several markers with large numbers of names inscribed and end with and to the “unknown” soldier. There is no statuary at the site. Instead of high-maintenance lawns, most of the gravesites are covered with low-maintenance ground cover plants.

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