Kathe Kollwitz’s ‘Grieving Parents’ at Vladslo: ‘Seed Corn Must Not Be Ground’

The wonderful Kathe Kollwitz, courtesy of Gerry Cordon.

That's How The Light Gets In


Kathe Kollwitz, ‘The Grieving Parents’ at Vladslo cemetery

Even though I’d been there on two previous occasions, there was one place to which I had to return before I finished my brief exploration of the memorials and cemeteries of the western front.  In Flanders, near to Dixmuide, north of Ypres, there is a German military cemetery where the son of the artist Kathe Kollwitz is buried.  It was there, in 1932, that Kollwitz’s memorial to her lost son was unveiled, consisting of the figures of herself and her husband grieving for the loss of their youngest child.  It is, I believe, one of the finest – and most deeply moving – artworks created in response to the devastation of the First World War.

Peter Kollwitz was just eighteen when volunteered for the German Army during the wave of patriotism that swept all the belligerent nations in August 1914. Although Kathe would come to develop strong…

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