American children remembered in annual memorial service

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class John R. Wright
  • 86th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs

Leaders from the Kaiserslautern Military Community and city of Kaiserslautern gathered for the annual Kindergraves memorial service at the Kaiserslautern Main Cemetery, Kaiserslautern, Germany, May 16, 2020.

Leadership from the Ramstein Area Chief’s Group, German-American and International Women’s Club and the Kaiserslautern Mayor’s Office attended the annual memorial service to honor and remember 451 American children who were buried in the Kaiserslautern Main Cemetery between 1952 and 1971.

At the time, government and Red Cross resources were unavailable to send the children, mainly infants who died before 3 months of age, back to the U.S. for burial.

Since stateside burials were not possible, the city of Kaiserslautern donated the use of public burial plots for the infants, who were predominantly children of parents stationed in the KMC.

The city’s gesture was made under the condition that the burial sites be maintained by local groups associated with the military community. Members of the German-American Women’s Club fulfilled this role early on, but when the initial lease for the burial sites was set to expire, the Ramstein Area Chief’s Group stepped in to serve as the entrusted agent for a new lease with the city of Kaiserslautern.

In 1986 the Kaiserslautern Kindergraves Memorial Foundation was established with representatives from the Ramstein Area Chief’s Group and the German-American and International Women’s Club serving as co-chairs.

The KKMF sponsors the annual memorial service in coordination with the KMC and city officials. The service includes laying of wreaths and a blessing of the graves. The foundation maintains the memorial site throughout the year by volunteer work and donations from the local community.