NEW DELHI: The graves of Indian soldiers, who fell in the First World War in former East Germany, are being restored by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission after remaining in neglect for 50 years.
The Zehrensdorf Indian cemetery, 40 km from Berlin, will be officially dedicated in October this year. The ground was cared for till the onset of the Second World War. After the war with Zehrensdorf in East Germany, the Commission was unable to maintain the cemetery, which was already badly damaged in the fighting between the Soviet Red Army and Hitler's troops. With no prospect of accessing the cemetery, the Commission began commemorating the bodies buried there with a special memorial panel on the Neuve-Chapelle memorial in France, where many casualties of the army of undivided India are remembered.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, all traces of the cemetery vanished though some original features were visible through the undergrowth. India plays an active role in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as it lost nearly 11,000 soldiers in the two World Wars. It contributes about Rs. 30 crore to a common fund, whose major contributors are Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In Delhi, the Commission recently made a digital record of commemorative name panels of soldiers whose names are engraved on India Gate.