FORT KNOX, Ky. — Two German liaison officers from Fort Moore, Georgia, visited Fort Knox’s Main Post Cemetery Nov. 29 to honor and remember 18 German prisoners of war who are buried there.
At the annual event, German Lt. Col. Ulrich Humpert and Sgt. Maj. Karl-Heinz Nelles, along with several Fort Knox community members of German heritage, placed German flags on each of the graves as well as an Italian flag on the one Italian POW grave in the cemetery.
A handful of American leaders also attended the event. Nelles presented a bouquet of flowers and he and Humpert then saluted the German POWs in a sign of utmost respect for their service.
“We were very surprised and very honored that you would join us to honor our soldiers lying here,” said Humpert. “For me this is a coming home. In 2006, I attended the Armor Captains Career Course at the Armor School right here in Fort Knox.”
Besides the POW graves in Fort Knox, Humpert explained to those gathered that he and Nellis are responsible for honoring the graves of Germans in Fort Moore, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Atlanta and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
German liaison officers visit the gravesites in conjunction with the second Sunday in November every year in observance of Vollkstrauertag, Germany’s National Day of Mourning – their equivalent of Memorial Day.
“For me this is also a very personal day,” said Humpert. “During World War II, all three brothers of my grandmother fell at the Eastern Front in Moscow, Stalingrad and Belarus. My grandfather also fell in World War II in Greece; he was a mount trooper. For me and my family it’s a very emotionally sensitive day.
“I’m pleased that so many of you are here to remember our dead. They are dead, but not forgotten.”