Dutch soldier, fallen for the homeland, on paper as “Ein unbekannter deutscher Soldat” (unknown German soldier) buried at the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn.

In May of the year 2017, through Fred, volunteer for Find A Grave, I came in contact with Charles Schrijnemaekers from Brazil, asking if I had more information about a person who appeared in the online database of Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (this organization maintain the graves of German war victims outside of Germany).

Later it turned out that the person concerned not only appeared in the online database mentioned above but also in the burial register of the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn.

This was Josef Schrijnemaekers, who was born in Oberhausen (Germany) and who was killed on 12-05-1940 and, according to the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, because he could not be undoubtedly identified buried as “Unbekannter Deutscher Soldat” on the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn.

For visitors to the online database, as well as to the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn, he was therefore also regarded as a German soldier who was killed in the Netherlands.

Coincidentally, however, the grandfather of Charles Schrijnemaekers, Josef Schrijnemaekers, was also born in Oberhausen and died on the same date. Although the spelling of the name was slightly different, Schrijnemakers instead of Schrijnemaekers, it seemed to me sufficient to go on research.

Josef Schrijnemaekers, born 02-07-1906 in Oberhausen (Germany), was a Dutch soldier of the 1-III-27 Infantry Regiment (a part of the Peeldivision) who died on 12-05-1940 for the fatherland during fights in Sint Oedenrode, where he also found his final resting place in the only war grave in the Martinuskerkhof.

Soon I got the following publication “12 mei 1940. Een achterhoedegevecht op de Sloef in Sint-Oedenrode“ a comprehensive life story about the soldier Josef Schrijnemaekers. It turned out to be a very careful and detailed investigation by the late Harry van Kuijk from Sint-Oedenrode.

Further research into soldier Josef Schrijnemaekers proved unnecessary, but since the similarities were too big for me to ignore, I contacted the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge in Kassel and soon I got the amazing news that it was indeed the same person.

In unseren Unterlagen sind folgende Informationen enthalten:
Name:                              Josef Schrijnemakers
Geburtstag:                    ohne Angaben (= unklarer Fall)
Geburtsort:                    Oberhausen
Todestag:                       12.05.1940
Erstbestattungsort:      Rooms/St. Oedenrode, ohne weitere Angaben
erfasst für:                     Ysselsteyn “unter den Unbekannten”

The Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge lettet me know that the Josef Schrijnemaekers in their database was indeed born in Oberhausen (Germany) and died on 12-05-1940 in Sint Oedenrode where he was also buried. The re-burial of German fallen soldiers from Sint Oedenrode to the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn would have taken place in 1949, after which the graves of the unknowns were opened again in 1963 by the Dutch Graves Department for re-identification. However, a large number of unknowns could not yet be identified, as a result of which the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge included Josef Schrijnemaekers as “Unbekannter Deutscher Soldat” in its database.

Why Josef Schrijnemaekers would have been classified as a German soldier by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge and the Dutch grave service remains unfortunately a mystery, possibly the mention of his birthplace (Oberhausen in Germany) on one of the German Gräberlisten (German funerary lists), played a role .

Unfortunately, with an administration of more than 30,000 deaths, it is not inevitable that mistakes can be made, so these can be found in multiples on the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn. However, such a mistake, especially since it was already reported and confirmed in 2017, was still not adapted in the online database, as in the burial register of the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn by Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge. The latter is, of course, very painful, especially for the relatives of Josef Schrijnemaekers.

Notification in the online database | Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V.


Grave of an unknown German soldier | German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn


Notification in the burial register or Namenbuch | German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn


Field grave of Josef Schrijnemaekers on the Sloef