Cherry Tree planted at V2 factory site
Chiswick represented at German ceremony to mark end of war
Chiswick was represented in Germany at the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s commemoration ceremony, marking the end of the Second World War, on Sunday 8 May 2005.
The ceremony tool place at Peenemünde Museum, housed in the massive power station at the site where the V2 weapon was developed.
The event included the planting of a cherry tree as a symbol of reconciliation in the presence of the Minister of Culture and the Mayor of Peenemünde and the presentation of an archive album of images and memories about the V2 blast in Chiswick.
Three Chiswick residents, Cllr Paul Lynch, James Wisdom (Chairman of the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society) and Val Bott, who helped to co-ordinate the V2 memorial unveiling in Staveley Road in 2004, travelled to Germany last weekend. They attended the commemorative event at the Peenemünde Museum on 8 May which not only marked the end of World War 2 but also International Museums Day.
The Peenemünde Museum provides an exhibition which recognises the difficulties posed by its subject matter – while the invention of a viable rocket created the technology which has taken humans into space, it was only developed with massive investment for destructive purposes on Hitler’s orders and the rockets were built with slave labour. The Museum staff looked after the Chiswick group very generously and hospitably, discussing these painful issues in some detail, providing guided tours during their stay and an interpreter for the afternoon of the event.
The commemoration began with speeches from State and local Council dignitaries and from Cllr Lynch, dressed formally as a “typical Englishman” in three-piece suit with bowler and umbrella, who delivered his short speech in German and was much photographed! This was followed by two short lectures before the tree planting.
The cherry tree is particularly symbolic because Staveley Road had been laid out with the newly-fashionable ornamental tree (prunus Kanzan) in the 1920s. The difference in girth between these and the trees planted in the late 1940s shows the extent of the rocket crater. The Peenemünde cherry tree is of exactly the same variety and will have a plaque explaining the link with Chiswick.
After the tree planting, James Wisdom, on behalf of the History Society, presented to the Peenemünde Museum a specially compiled album of information about the V2 blast in Chiswick which includes copies of contemporary images of the blast, details of those who died and memories and pictures assembled since the unveiling of the Staveley Road memorial. (A similar album will be presented later in the year to the Mayor of Wassenaar, the suburb of The Hague from which the Chiswick V2 was launched).
The rest of the afternoon was taken up with tea and cherry cake, the opening of a small exhibition about the impact of World War 2 put together by students from a local secondary school, and a short dramatic performance in an unrestored part of the power station.
May 11, 2005