Corpses of atonement
The discovery, commemoration and reinterment of eleven Alsatian victims of Nazi terror, 1947– 52
in Human remains in society

In April 1947, a mass grave containing the bodies of 11 Alsatians executed by the Offenburg Gestapo in December 1944 was uncovered in Rammersweier. In the following days, the bodies were exhumed, placed in coffins and, after a two day vigil by local residents, solemnly and publically reburied after a two confessional service in the presence of school children and a wide cross-section of local and state authorities. A roadside memorial was constructed for the victims in 1948. The bodies of the murdered Alsatians played a central symbolic role throughout the process of exhumation, commemoration, and response to the later vandalism of the erected monument in their name.

This chapter argues that the meticulous attention to the remembrance activities surrounding the reburial and memorialisation of the Alsatians and the intensity of the vandalism investigation demonstrates that Badenese officials were convinced that their responses contained a symbolic resonance beyond giving eleven more victims of Nazi terror a proper burial. In effect, contemporary Badenese authorities and their Alsatian counterparts came to view the dead bodies as representative of the larger crimes of the Nazi regime, particularly those perpetrated against the population of Alsace.

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Human remains in society

Curation and exhibition in the aftermath of genocide and mass-violence

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