- Abbaye de Mariawald, Heimbach, Allemagne
In the late 1930s the monks of Mariawald Abbey came into conflict with the Nazi regime and were evicted. During the battle of Huertgenwald the abbey was used as a field hospital. Many of the wounded could not be saved and died. 414 of them are still resting in what is now the War Cemetery of the Mariawald Abbey.
Mariawald Abbey is situated near the village of Heimbach in the Eifel Mountains, to the southeast of the Rur-Dam Schwammenauel. It was founded as a monastery by Cistercian monks in 1486. In 1909 the monastery was elevated to the status of ‘abbey’. During the Nazi period the monks and brothers came into conflict with the authorities and were suppressed by the Secret State Police (Gestapo) until the abbey was finally declared hostile to the state. Some of the monks were arrested, others were conscripted or evicted. Just a few brothers remained as farmhands on the fields of the monastery.
Already in 1938 part of the abbey was commandeered to accommodate the workers who constructed the ‘Westwall’ (Siegfried Line), a line of fortifications along the German border from the Netherlands to Switzerland. Later the buildings were for some time used as an orphanage.
During the autumn and winter of 1944/45 a prolonged battle took place in the Eifel region. The fighting caused numerous casualties on both sides. The abbey was used as a military hospital. For a lot of the wounded soldiers there was no saving. The few remaining brothers buried them on a nearby hill, where 414 of them are still resting in what is now the War Cemetery of the Mariawald Abbey.
During the fighting the abbey was badly damaged by Allied fire and suffered more destruction from the withdrawing German troops. In 1950 the monks returned to Mariawald and immediately started to rebuild the abbey. The work was finished in 1959.