Dutch honour WWII German soldier for saving lives
The German soldier found two Dutch toddlers on the frontline between the Allied and German forces and brought them to safely.5 November 2008
RIEL - A memorial sculpture was unveiled on Tuesday in the southern-Netherlands city of Riel to honour the "humanity" of a soldier from the German army during WWII.
The initiator of the memorial in Riel in the southern Netherlands, Herman van Rouwendaal, 76, said the sculpture "honours the humanity displayed by a soldier of the German army, or Wehrmacht, during WWII".
Karl Heintz Rosch was 18 when he saved the lives of two young Dutch children on 6 October 1944.
The two, brother Jan and sister Toos Kilsdonk, then both toddlers, found themselves on the frontline between the Allied and German forces. Rosch brought the children to safety. He was killed by Allied artillery fire shortly after.
Both siblings 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.
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 financed entirely by Dutch private citizens.
The sculpture marks a new Dutch way of commemorating WWII.
Until the mid 1990s, the Dutch attitude towards Germans was largely hostile. The Dutch consistently considered all Germans as the "occupiers" in WWII, describing themselves as "innocent victims".
In recent years, the Dutch increasingly supported Dutch-German commemorations of WWII that focus on common humanity.
[dpa / Expatica]