Berlin , 26 May:The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony drove down to the Berlin War Cemetery Monday morning to pay homage to the Indian soldiers who had lost their lives during the World War II between 1939 and 1945. It was a simple but solemn ceremony.
Immediately after the arrival of Shri Antony at the Cemetery, a small detachment of the smartly dressed German Guards stepped forward to aid the Minister to place a wreath at the Memorial on which it is inscribed ‘ Their name liveth for ever more’. As the delegation members stood in silence for two minutes, the last post was sounded marking the end of the ceremony. Shri Antony, thereafter, took a walk around the cemetery and went to the area where the graves of the Indian soldiers are located. Two priests chanted prayers and the delegation members placed rose stalks at the graves. In the Cemetery record book, the Defence Minister wrote,’ I salute to the heroic memory of the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their precious lives’.
The Berlin War Cemetery is located in the Western part of the City. Almost 3600 casualties from the Commonwealth countries are commemorated at this site. The majority are airmen who lost their lives in air raids over Berlin and the towns of Eastern Germany. The remaining were men who died as prisoners of war, some of them in the forced march into Germany from camps in Poland, in front of advancing Russians.
A total of 162 soldiers of undivided India have been laid to rest in 17 locations in Germany. Of these, 50 have been commemorated in the Berlin War Cemetery. The soldiers laid to rest here belong to Indian Armoured Corps, Indian Artillery, Infantry, Royal Indian Army Service Corps, Madras Sappers and Miners, Indian Army Remount Corps and Indian Army Ordnance Corps.
The Berlin War Cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cost of the maintenance is shared by the partner nations, including India. The site for the Cemetery was selected by the British Occupation Authorities and Commission officials jointly in 1945, soon after the hostilities ceased. Graves were brought to the Cemetery from the Berlin area and from Eastern Germany.