German liaison officers visit Fort Knox cemetery to remember POWs for National Day of Mourning
German Sgt. Maj. Karl-Heinz Nelles places a flag on one of 18 graves of German prisoners of war in Fort Knox’s Main Post Cemetery Nov. 29, 2023, in honor of Germany’s National Day of Mourning. Several Americans of German heritage joined him and Lt. Col. Ulrich Humpert during the event. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

German liaison officers visit Fort Knox cemetery to remember POWs for National Day of Mourning
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – German Lt. Col. Ulrich Humpert, a liaison officer at Fort Moore, Georgia, takes a moment to inspect each of the 18 graves of German POWs that reside at Main Post Cemetery before the ceremony. He said this year’s visit is his second time at Fort Knox, the first being when he attended an Armor School captain’s course in 2006. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL
German liaison officers visit Fort Knox cemetery to remember POWs for National Day of Mourning
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Some of the Fort Knox community members of German heritage who attended the ceremony point out some facts about the German POWs to Humpert afterward. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

“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.

German liaison officers visit Fort Knox cemetery to remember POWs for National Day of Mourning
A U.S. Army veteran from the Fort Knox area places an Italian flag on the lone Italian POW buried at Main Post Cemetery. Several Americans in the area attended the ceremony, garnering praise from Humpert. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

“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.”

German liaison officers visit Fort Knox cemetery to remember POWs for National Day of Mourning
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Nelles and Humpert render honors to the German POWs resting in Main Post Cemetery at the conclusion of the ceremony. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL
German liaison officers visit Fort Knox cemetery to remember POWs for National Day of Mourning
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL