Möten med krigsgravar i konflikternas periferi. Materialitet och bruk av betydelse

  • Magnus Ljunge Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur, Stockholms universitet
  • Maria Persson Institutionen för historiska studier, Göteborgs universitet


During the great wars, the remains of hundreds of killed soldiers ended up on Swedish territory. They were either sailors, killed in battles at sea and taken by currents to the Swedish coast, or shot down pilots. When discovered, the remains were buried at local cemeteries. During the 1960s a process of re-burial was initiated, and close to 500 bodies was moved to a cemetery at Kviberg in the city of Gothenburg. Two war cemeteries were created, separating German soldiers from soldiers that served in the Commonwealth.
In this paper we address the materiality and spatiality of the two war cemeteries in order to understand how these war graves take part in commemoration practices, and also how they create and manifest post-war narratives of the area of the great wars. Starting at the perceived differences in the setting and design of the two cemeteries, we argue that visitors of the war graves encounter a feeling of being close to global historic events. The war graves materialize abstract narratives of great histories at a micro-level in a place far away from the actual conflicts. Simultaneously, the war graves manifest post-war national identities that has very little to do with the individuals buried in the graves or the geographical context of their setting.