A few years ago my wife and I visited the Alsace region in France, a beautiful area with small towns and charming villages. One day we drove to Siglosheim and up the hill above the town to find a big cemetery containing the remains of 1,400 allied troops that died in the Battle of the Colmar Pocket, one of the bloodiest in World War II. Even though it was a sparkling, bright autumn day, we felt the tragedy the place represents. I went away struck by how the French had organized the graves according to religion. I thought of this cemetery after hearing about the attacks on Paris earlier this year.
From Colmar to Paris
In the Battle of the Colmar Pocket
American G.I.’s, and
Moroccan Mountain Troops fought
three months in bitter cold to
cleanse France of the Nazis,
drive them across the Rhine.
All this unimaginable now, looking down
from the Siglosheim cemetery
toward Colmar and other towns with their
schools, churches and bakeries bordered by
golden vineyards glowing in autumn sun,
but vineyards planted in soil darkened
by the blood of thousands.
The French, ever seeking symmetry of design,
segregated even the graves: in the middle,
headstones of Christians and a few Jews,
flanked by two sections, just for Muslims.
Still in Paris:
the Christians, the Jews,
the Muslims, the Nazis,
in Paris still…