The Controversial Memorial in Honor of WWII German Soldier Karl-Heinz Rosch: “Hero with No Glory”

Heziel Pitogo

The Battle

Those who supported a memorial for Karl-Heinz Rosch were met with opposition in every way.

They had to stand against the argument that it was not right to make a statue for the enemy when the five men who came from Goirle, tied in stakes and were killed by German troops as a warning to resistance fighters did not have any memorial honoring their unreasonable deaths.

They then suggested to put up a monument for the five men next to the stakes which were preserved by history museum in the locality and finally,  put up Rosch’s statue nearby the five men’s monument. Through this, the two sides of the German occupation would be aptly represented – the all too common brutality and the scarcely evident show of humanity by some of the enemy soldiers.

However, after much discussion, the city council still turned down the making of Rosch’s monument saying that one in honor of a Wehrmacht soldier would still be “too socially sensitive”. Besides, they did not want to make Goirle a pilgrimage site to the German neo-Nazis.

Not only was the state funding for the said statue refused, city council also refused to have the monument displayed in any public area – a resolution regarded wrong by many Dutch.

Being turned down by the government did not, however, dampen the desire of the monument’s supporters to see through to its success. They did a fundraising drive to have the needed funds for its erection.

Artist  Riet van der Louw depicted Karl-Heinz Rosch as he was – a Wehrmacht soldier complete with the steel helmet many would instantly recognize and had come to hate.

But it also showed the extent of compassion he extended to Jan and Toos Kilsdonk, the two children who were tucked in each of his arm as he carried them to safety.

“We will not be honoring the Wehrmacht, but rather the humanity of a young German soldier,” van Rouwendaal strongly pointed out during the drive for Karl-Heinz Rosch’s memorial.

As of now, the small statue in honor of young WWII German soldier Karl-Heinz Rosch, built through a civil initiative, stands in a front garden privately owned by one of the older residents of Goirle, someone who had known Rosch when he was still alive. It is the only WWII memorial to honor a German soldier in whole Europe and, perhaps, in the whole world.

Die Welt reports; Additional notes from The Few Good Men website, Military Photos and Traces of War