German Remembrance Day at Glencree 2023


19/11/2023: Today, the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (Glencree) and the Embassy of Germany in Ireland, together with the Lutheran Church in Ireland and St. Kevin’s Church Glencree, hosted the annual commemoration of ‘Volkstrauertag’, German Remembrance Day.

On this wet and windy day in the Wicklow mountains, Glencree CEO, Naoimh McNamee, and German Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Cord Meier-Klodt, welcomed over 120 guests who joined in remembrance of all those who have lost their lives in war and conflict, and who are suffering as a result of war and conflict today. Among those in attendance were veterans, members of the diplomatic corps, members of the military and naval corps, Glencree neighbours, friends and colleagues.

The day formally got underway with a Circle Discussion in the Glencree Bridge Building. Led by Glencree Facilitator Will Devas, circle participants shared their experiences and insights on the theme of ‘How Time and Geography Weakens the Human Connection to Conflict’. These included contributions from the German, French, Finnish and Bulgarian Ambassadors, the British military attaché, and Pastor Florian von Issendorff of the Lutheran Church in Ireland, among others.

Following the circle dialogue, participants moved to St. Kevin’s Church for an Ecumenical Prayer for Peace service led by Father Bernard Kennedy, Parish Priest of Enniskerry, and Pastor Florian von Issendorff. The tri-lingual service, delivered in English, Irish and German, included readings by members of St. Finians Church, Anika Nagel and her daughter Anna O’Connor, and featured the Goethe Choir throughout. Students from the local St. Patrick’s National School in Curtlestown read extracts from biographies, compiled by students from the Eichendorff School in Wolfsburg during their visit to Glencree earlier this year, of those lying at rest in the nearby German Cemetery.

Speaking at the service, Glencree CEO, Naoimh McNamee honoured the memory of those who lost their lives. She also paid tribute to dear friend of Glencree and one of the children of Operation Shamrock, Heinz Kampes, who passed away on Thursday last. Drawing from the eulogy Ms. McNamee delivered at his funeral service in Dundalk yesterday, and in the presence of Heinz’s family who attended the remembrance service in honour of their father, Ms Namee spoke of his life in Ireland ‘that exemplified the resilience of the human spirit’. (Read Eulogy in full here)

The service concluded with the lighting of the lantern - to symbolise the light of hope - by the pupils of St Patrick’s National School. Carrying the lantern, the children led the procession from St Kevin’s church to the German Military Cemetery. Representatives of veteran organisations and Ambassador Meier-Klodt, who spoke of the need for unity at this time of conflict around the world, was joined by diplomatic colleagues to lay wreaths in remembrance of the 134 German military servicemen and civilians laid to rest in the cemetery and of all who have lost their lives in war and conflict across the world. Piper, Joseph Meade, played at the foot of the Celtic Cross on the hilltop overlooking the Cemetery during the wreath laying. After time for reflection and remembrance, guests returned to the Glencree Campus where they enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Armoury Café.

Our sincere thanks to all guests who attended and contributed to this commemorative event, including the children, their parents and teachers of St Patrick National School, Curtlestown, the musicians and the Goethe Choir.

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