The »Cemetery of the Nameless« in the village of Oerbke, which is located in the southern Lüneburg heath, commemorates the approximately 30,000 Soviet prisoners of war who were buried here. Between 1939 and 1945, there were two POW camps situated in Oerbke; over 30,000 people perished in them.
Following the German attack on Poland in 1939, the prisoner of war camp »Stalag XI B Fallingbostel« was established in close vicinity of the town of Fallingbostel. Large numbers of prisoners of war, mostly from Poland, France and Belgium, were imprisoned there. In June 1941, the camp had over 50,000 inmates. Most of them had to perform forced labour outside of Oerbke. Between May and June 1941, shortly before the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht set up a »Russian camp« in Oerbke, meant solely for Soviet prisoners of war. From July 1941 on, the Wehrmacht brought over 15,000 Soviet POWs to the »Stalag XI D/321«. After having been transported for days, the prisoners arrived in Oerbke exhausted and hungry. They were not provided with housing at the camp; left to themselves, many of the prisoners dug holes to accommodate themselves. The horrific conditions, hunger, cold and diseases led to a high death rate at the camp: in the winter of 1941/42, there were at times as many as a hundred deaths daily. In the spring of 1942, the Wehrmacht merged the camp with the »Stalag XI B« again, and the »Stalag 357« was moved to Oerbke. British troops liberated the two camps on April 16, 1945.
About 30,000 Soviet prisoners of war, who perished in Oerbke or other POW camps, are buried at the »Cemetery of the Nameless«. Neither the exact number of victims, nor their names are known. Buried here are also the remains of 273 victims from Yugoslavia, Poland, France, Belgium and Slovakia.
Already in 1945, a Soviet war memorial was set up in Oerbke. In the 1960s, the »Cemetery of the Nameless« was remodelled and the Soviet memorial dismantled. Only a relief remains. In 1964, a new monument, designed by Klaus Seelenmeyer, was erected. There are 109 gravestones containing a total of 920 names at the cemetery. On November 19, 1995, over fifty years after the end of the war, a bronze information plaque and ten wooden crosses containing ten more names were installed at the cemetery.
- Kriegsgräberstätte Oerbke »Friedhof der Namenlosen«
- +49 (0)5162 960 214
- +49 (0)5162 960 2 12
- The cemetery is accessible at all times.