Kindergraves Memorial: united in remembrance

  • Published
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The annual American Kindergraves ceremony was held at the American Kindergraves Memorial in the Kaiserslautern City Cemetery, May 14, 2022.

The memorial honors 451 American infants who died shortly after birth at the American military hospital in Landstuhl or nearby civilian hospitals from 1952 to 1971.

“Kindergraves are a tangible testimony to the importance of our relationships with our military families and local communities,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Denny Davies, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander. “We are dedicated in continuing this event each year to honor the memory of these children who have been forever embraced by our neighbors and friends here in Kaiserslautern.”

The infants are laid to rest in the heart of the cemetery.

“For the families of the infants who are buried here, it is much more than a symbol – it is comfort, it is peace, it is connection,” said U.S. Army Col. Douglas LeVien, 21st Theater Sustainment Command commanding officer.
In the 1980s, when the lease agreement expired, efforts to save the grave site location prevailed and a partnership between the German-American Woman’s Club and Ramstein Area Chief’s Group began.

“Kindergraves is a symbol of love and friendship between our two nations – we remember the time when the Americans helped us survive after the war,” said Christina Bruni Putz German-American Women’s Club American Kindergreves chairperson. “Honoring the plot is possible due to the many volunteers and it is important today because we still need a place of remembrance to be thankful and honor those little babies in the name of their families.”

The Kaiserslautern Kindergraves Memorial Foundation was established in 1986 to maintain the memorial site, organize ceremonies in remembrance of the children and be a resource for family inquiries.

“On behalf of the United States and the Kaiserslautern Military Community, thank you for acting with compassion by creating and caring for a place that acknowledges the most heart-wrenching pain imaginable, and offers hope,” said LeVien. “It is a place where families can come, where Americans and Germans work side by side and to lay to rest the most innocent among us.”

Following every Mother’s Day, a ceremony is held for those infants who were unable to return home. This event allows service members and families to show their support and respect for families and friends who were affected.

This year, Ramstein High School junior reserve officers’ training corps presented the Colors followed by opening remarks and a candle lighting ceremony by representatives from Ramstein Area Chiefs’ Group and 21st TSC.

United in memory of these infants, both U.S. Air Force Chaplain and German Chaplain blessed the graves prior to attendees being able to pay their respects at the grave sites.

“Today is a reminder that you are not alone,” said LeVien.