I have been on vacation in my native home country Sweden, but now I am back in the USA and Texas, after two and a half weeks of meeting family and friends, eating some great food as well as experiencing and seeing a number of new things.
One of the most emotional things on this trip was one of those new experiences. As I written about before, I am named after my uncle Karl-Heinz, who was killed in the last days of WWII. He is buried in Copenhagen, as he died while being treated for his wounds at a German military hospital there. I have never visited his grave, so when we decided to take a tour of Sk? to view places like Ale´s Stones, Kivik and then take the ?esunds Bridge over to Denmark, I wanted to take the opportunity to visit my namesake.
Karl-Heinz Groeling was born on December 20, 1919, soon after my grandfather returned from WWI. My mother was born in 1926, and two more girls (Anneliese and Katja) in the next few years. My uncle was, like so many other boys, interested in airplanes, and he learned to fly gliders and sailplanes in the 1930´s. After the Treaty of Versailles after WWI, Germany was not allowed any armed aircrafts. The workaround was to train future pilots in gliders. In 1939 he joined the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) as a glider pilot. He took part in the invasion of Crete in 1941, and was later reassigned to a flak (anti-aircraft artillery) regiment. On February 23, 1945 he was wounded (shot through the left lung) and evacuated to a hospital ship. On March 10 he arrived at the hospital in Copenhagen, but during the night between March 15 and 16 his condition deteriorated and he died in the morning at 03:10.
Thanks to the internet, I quickly found Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgr?rf??rge who has an online database of German war graves. I found his grave and located the cemetery. I was surprised and happy to find that it was within walking distance from my hotel, just about a mile and a half away. So the morning after arriving in Copenhagen I walked to Vestre Kirkeg?, a beautiful cemetery with nice landscaping and art decorations, and found the German section (picture right), where 4,636 German soldiers and 4,019 civilian refugees are buried.
After a brief search, I located the grave. Due to limited space, most graves contained more than one person. Most contained two, but I found some containing up to five. As I mentioned earlier, it was strangely emotional to stand there, in front of that simple stone cross. He was only 25 years old when he died, and had just started his life. If he had managed to survive two more months, the war would have been over.
While I was on the way back to Stockholm after the trip to Denmark, the massacre on Ut??/span> in Norway happened, and 77 more people, most of them as young or younger than my uncle lost their lives. More lives wasted for political reasons, by another mad man.