German solider receives honorary Dutch recognition

5th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The kind deed of a Wehrmacht soldier, Karl Heintz Rosch, becomes another means of strengthening Dutch-German ties.

Amsterdam -- A memorial sculpture was unveiled Tuesday in the southern Netherlands city of Riel to honour Karl Heintz Rosch, a German soldier of World War II.

The initiator of the memorial, Herman van Rouwendaal, 76, said the sculpture, "honours the humanity displayed by a soldier of the German army, or Wehrmacht, during WW II".

Rosch was an 18 year old soldier when he saved the lives of two young Dutch children on Oct. 6, 1944.

The two siblings, brother Jan and sister Toos Kilsdonk, then both toddlers, found themselves on the frontline between the Allied and German forces. Rosch had rescued them and brought the children to safety. Shortly afterwards he was killed by Allied artillery fire.

Both Jan and Toos, now elderly Dutch nationals, were present at Tuesday's unveiling of the memorial sculpture.

The bronze statue shows the actual rescue scene, with soldier Rosch, wearing the typical steel German army helmet, carrying the children under his arms.

Two of Rosch's half-brothers, Diethelm and Ingold Rosch, were present at Tuesday's ceremony.

Van Rouwendaal said both were "very emotional and honoured to be present."

The bronze sculpture, made by Dutch sculptor Riet van der Louw, was privately financed by Dutch citizens.

The sculpture marks another new way the Dutch are able to commemorate World War II.

Until the mid 1990s, the Dutch attitude towards Germans was largely hostile. The Dutch consistently considered all Germans as the "occupiers" in World War II, describing themselves as "innocent victims."

From the mid-1990s onwards, the Dutch increasingly supported Dutch-German commemorations of World War II that focus on common humanity.


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