Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V.
Spendentelefon: 0561 700 90
Kassel, February 2016 - Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V. is a humanitarian organization charged by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany with recording, maintaining and caring for the graves of German war casualties abroad. The Volksbund provides information to relatives on all matters related to war graves, advises public and private institutions, promotes international cooperation in the area of war grave maintenance and encourages young people to come together to learn at the last resting places of war casualties.
The Volksbund currently has almost 350,000 active supporters. More than one million people take an interest in the organization and also make occasional financial contributions. The Volksbund funds approximately 70 percent of its activities with these contributions and donations, and also with income received from legacies and bequests. It also runs annual collection campaigns both door-to-door and in public spaces. Germany's regional and national government authorities provide the remainder of the funds needed.
The Volksbund charity was founded on 16 December 1919. It was born out of necessity. At the time, the only recently proclaimed Weimar Republic was neither politically nor economically in a position to take care of the graves of the soldiers killed in action during the First World War. The Volksbund, which saw itself as a citizen's initiative supported by the entire population, dedicated itself to this task henceforward and established numerous war cemeteries until the early 1930s. From 1933 onwards, the Volksbund voluntarily agreed to "Gleichschaltung" - complete submission and alignment to the National Socialist system of totalitarian control. During the Second World War, the armed forces were responsible for setting up military cemeteries.
However, the Volksbund took over these duties again from 1946 onwards, and established over 400 war cemeteries nationwide in only a short period. In 1954, the federal government commissioned the Volksbund with locating, safeguarding and maintaining the graves of German war casualties abroad.
In accordance with bilateral agreements, the Volksbund now fulfils this task in Europe and North Africa. The charity currently takes care of 832 war cemeteries and graves in 45 countries, the last resting places of about 2.7 million war casualties. Today, several thousand volunteers and 566 salaried employees deal with the organization's various activities.
In consequence of the political revolutions in Eastern Europe, the work of the Volksbund extended to the former Eastern Bloc countries, where around 3 million German soldiers lost their lives in the Second World War - almost twice as many soldiers as those resting in war cemeteries in the other European countries. This harboured huge challenges for the Volksbund: many of the over 100,000 gravesites were difficult to locate, or they had been destroyed, overbuilt or plundered.
Since 1991, the Volksbund has repaired or reconstructed 330 Second World War cemeteries and 188 burial grounds from the First World War in Eastern, Central and Southeast Europe. A total of 856,722 war casualties have been reinterred on 82 gravesites.
The Volksbund established the "Gedenken und Frieden" - "Peace and Remembrance" - foundation in 2001 in order to safeguard its charitable work in the long term.
The Volksbund commemorates the casualties of war through the establishment and maintenance of war cemeteries. These vast burial grounds are a reminder of the past that also confront the living with the consequences of war and violence.
The Volksbund provides a wide range of suitable information material about the cemeteries and the topics and questions associated with war graves.
The Volksbund started to organize international youth exchanges and work camps throughout Europe under the motto "Reconciliation above the graves - Work for Peace" in 1953.
The education officers in the regional branches collaborate with schools and higher education establishments and carry out projects in war cemeteries both in Germany and internationally.
The four youth exchange and education centres the Volksbund runs in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany provide young people as well as adults taking part in adult education courses with the perfect framework conditions for on-site peace education projects at the local war cemeteries. Around 20,000 youngsters and young adults use these offers every year.
Conferences and seminars on the culture of commemoration in a European context, work camps for adults, educational trips and trips for relatives are further central pillars of the Volksbund's reconciliatory work.
The Bundeswehr - the German Armed Forces - and the German association of volunteer reservists support the Volksbund by providing practical help at national and international war cemeteries, during the work camps organized by the Volksbund, at commemorative events and also during the annual door-to-door and public collection campaigns.
"Volkstrauertag" in November is Germany's official annual day of remembrance. The Volksbund organizes the various commemorative events held throughout Germany on that day. It is an important date both in political terms and for the public; a day for mourning the dead that also serves as a reminder of how precious peace is.
The Volksbund's official patron is the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Joachim Gauck.
Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V.
Maurice Bonkat, Pressereferent
Tel.: +495 61 - 70 09 - 1 39
Mobil: +491 72 - 1 72 70 28
Fax: +495 61 - 70 09 - 2 85
Spendenkonto: Commerzbank Kassel
IBAN: DE23 5204 0021 0322 2999 00