Krasny Bor German War Cemetery

The Krasny Bor German War Cemetery and Bärenhöhle

After visiting the Katyn War Cemetery, I began exploring the local forest in the Krasny Bor district in a search for Hitler’s headquarters, “Bärenhöhle,” which was located here during the war. However, Adolf Hitler never visited it and so it was actually used by the Staff of Army Group Centre (Heeresgruppe Mitte). After visiting the complex, I went to visit the Krasny Bor German War Cemetery.

Now, from the original big original complex, only a couple of huge pillboxes and a flooded bunker have survived. I was without a car during the time of my visit, so I took public transportation. After exploring the area, I had some time left before the train to Smolensk was due to arrive.

Therefore, I decided to visit the cemetery for German soldiers (Krasny Bor German War Cemeter), which is only a kilometer and a half from the train station. I’ve heard that the cemetery was created during the time of war, in 1941, and then, after the liberation of the Smolensk region in 1943 it was destroyed like all other German cemeteries. The renovation of the cemetery was begun in the 1990s, with money from Germany. Before that, the bones were almost on the surface.

The main feature of the Krasny Bor German War Cemetery is this monument. The cemetery is very nice looking and clean. Except the empty beer bottle behind the cross, in the photo above, I didn’t find any trash. I also didn’t see any traces of vandalism, despite the fact that German soldiers are buried there and many people don’t want to have such places in Russia.

Every mass grave is marked by three crosses. It sounds odd, but this cemetery seems to be the nicest park – like setting in the entire area. It may be sad that the best public space in the area is a cemetery for German soldiers, but why is it the best? I think it’s because it was built by Germans to German standards. I don’t think it would be as nice had it been built by Russian authorities to modern Russian standards—very inferior standards, by the way.

A very quiet place. Unlike Polish victims at the Katyn War Cemetery nearby, I think the German soldiers here are seldom visited by family. Well, it’s now time to travel on to Smolensk!