The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial, located one and a half miles east of Fère-en-Tardenois in France, is home to the remains of 6,012 service members who died during World War One. The main cemetery has four burial plots: A, B, C, and D are the letter combinations. Plot E is separated. It is the hidden section containing the remains of 94 American servicemen. But why were their remains separated from other war heroes?
The 94 US WWII servicemen executed by the US military were buried in “Plot E” of the Oise Aisne American Cemetery in France. The section is designated for “the dishonored dead” and is hidden from view by hedges. No US flag is allowed to fly over it, the graves lack headstones, and it is not open to the public.
Why are Their Graves Separated?
Plot E is a separate, hidden section that now houses the remains of 94 American military prisoners, all of whom were executed by hanging or firing squad under military authority for murder, rape, or both crimes committed during or shortly after World War II; their victims were 26 fellow American soldiers, all of whom were murdered and 71 British, French, Italian, Polish, and Algerian civilians.
During the Second World War, the US Army executed 94 servicemen following General Courts Martial for murder, rape, or both crimes in the European Theater of Operations. These servicemen’s remains were originally buried near the sites of their executions, which occurred in countries as diverse as England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Algeria. The remains of these men were re-interred in Plot E, and a private section specifically built to hold what the Graves Registration referred to as the dishonorable dead because all had been Dishonorably Discharged from the US Army just before their executions as per standard practice.
Unlike the regular plots, which have marble monuments and inscribed standing headstones, Plot E has only 96 flat stone markers and a single small granite cross. The white grave markers are the size of index cards and have only sequential numbers engraved in black. Individual graves were supposed to be impossible to identify; however, the secrecy of each grave’s occupant was shattered by a Freedom of Information Act request in 2009. (Source: Military History)
Who was the Only Person Who Did Not Commit Rape or Murder But was Buried in Plot E?
Eddie Slovik, executed for desertion on January 31, 1945, was the only person buried in Plot E who had not been convicted of rape or murder. Antoinette Slovik, his wife, petitioned the Army for her husband’s remains and pension until her death in 1979. Slovik’s case was taken up in 1981 Bernard V. Calka, a former Macomb County, Michigan commissioner, and Polish-American World War II veteran, who continued to press the Army for the return of Slovik’s remains. In response, Calka raised $5,000 to pay for Slovik’s exhumation and reinterment at Detroit’s Woodmere Cemetery, where he was reburied next to his wife. (Source: Military History)
Image from Us.France