In the middle of this large suburban graveyard, a row of diminutive stone blocks hides among the fallen leaves. Nothing about them invites you to investigate. They are black, unadorned, inconspicuous: ignorable. But if you kick away the autumnal detritus you will discover that each stone bears the same date: April or May 1945. These people, mainly civilians, some of them without names, all perished during the fall of Berlin. Perhaps they met with disease, starvation, or a stray bullet. Who knows what privations they endured before the terminal date?
Remembrance Sunday in Berlin simply isn’t. Despite all of the recent moves to make the annual marking of the armistice about the general cost of war, the triumphalism of the victors still casts a pall. In any war, innocence is a grey area. People are caught up, swept along, killed, maimed, forgotten. Whatever their stories, the why of their deaths is filled with a futility that ought to move us. Wars, we expect, have a military cost. But among the celebrated fallen and the vanquished enemy lie the rest. I, for one, would like to remember them.