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Practical tips

Organising a commemorative event

We are delighted that you are organising a commemorative event on Volkstrauertag (National Day of Mourning). The suggestions we offer in these guidelines provide a rough outline of one of many possible sequences of events. Remembrance and mourning take many forms and can be structured in a variety of different ways. The format proposed here is intended as a suggestion. You, as organiser, will need to adapt it to the requirements and conditions of the specific setting.


Sequence of events for a commemoration ceremony:

- Words of welcome
- Setting the mood: poem, literary text, quotation from letter or diary written in the field
- Musical work
- Reading out the Totengedenken (tribute to the dead)
- Reciting the names of individual war dead from the locality
- Remembrance address
- Prayer
- Laying of wreaths
- A minute’s silence
- Song or musical work (e.g. national and/or European anthem, Der gute Kamerad
- Thanks to supporters
- Farewell


Recommendations regarding Covid-19

Recommendations regarding Covid-19

Are you planning an event on, or in advance of, Volkstrauertag? The Volksbund makes the following general recommendations. A decision as to whether they are permitted or implementable within the context of the specific regulations will need to be taken in situ:

  • Hold events in the open air and observe the minimum safe distance before, during and after the event (if applicable, mark up the seats or standing positions and walkways for the guests).
  • Draw up a hygiene plan with a person in charge (registering of contact details) and further members of staff to ensure that regulations are complied with during the event.
  • Record the contact details of all participants for tracing purposes, while complying with local regulations and data protection provisions (as a rule, retain for four weeks), possibly in digital form.
  • Inform the guests of the rules and, where applicable, the possibility of changes and even cancellation at short-notice (provide information with the invitation, display at the event location and, where applicable, make announcements during the event itself).
  • Mandatory mouth and nose covering for all present. Only active participants (during their actual contribution to the programme and with adequate distancing) to be exempted. A supply of masks should be held ready.
  • Adapt the event format and programming (where applicable shorter programme or activities for fewer persons, e.g. remembrance walks, sitting or standing in circle formation, no audience singing). Preparation of a smaller or even purely symbolic ceremony in case of cancellation at very short notice.
  • Wreath-laying in advance where applicable or smaller wreaths to be carried by individual bearers; in more confined spaces, the wreath-giver should not approach the wreath but simply be named aloud.
  • Alternative form of commemoration on or around the day of remembrance itself – both in traditional commemorative locations (war graves sites/cemeteries; military memorials) and also in other carefully chosen public places (centres, pedestrian zones, schools and town halls etc.), e.g. commemorative boards providing biographical information and portrait pictures of the fallen (based on interactive educational projects in advance).
  • Public relations work: the presence of fewer persons at events makes media reporting all the more important, e.g. guest features in the regional media, short reports with a focus on individual stories and biographies, good-quality photographs and film clips (with clarification of public usage/source credits). Please forward any attractive reports and pictures, along with some brief background information, to presse@volksbund.de. The Volksbund will always publish post-event reports of regional but also international commemorative events abroad.

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