At the World War II American Cemetery and Margraten Memorial located in the southern Netherlands, Dutch residents over the years have adopted the names and graves of fallen U.S. soldiers who have been remembered for their sacrifice in the battle for freedom in Europe.
Bart van der Sterren, who lives in The Netherlands, is hoping to connect with the relatives of a fallen Bayside World War II soldier, whose name is engraved on the Wall of the Missing at the site.
“We are searching for information about relatives of Walter Traudt, and we want to tell them that he is not forgotten and still remembered. We hope you can help us,” ver der Sterren wrote to the TimesLedger Newspapers in an email.
Traudt was born on Nov. 30, 1924 in Hanau, Germany. His last known unit was the 406th Infantry Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division, C-company, van der Sterren said.
His hometown was Bayside and he trained at Camp Swift in Texas, van der Sterren said. His family was Karl Traudt (father), Marie Traudt (mother), and Elfriede Traudt (sister).
The American soldier enlisted in the army on March 20, 1943 in New York City and has been missing since Nov. 21, 1944 near a German town called Immendorf.
Van der Sterren is a member of the Stichting Missing in Action (MIA) Foundation, whose goal is to find missing WWII soldiers — English, Dutch, German or American — in order to provide them the final proper burial they deserve.
The foundation is focused on recovering bodies within Benelux and Germany WWII ground losses — The Battle of the Bulge, Huertgenwald and Arnhem battlefield, according to its website.
Traudt’s name was adopted by Peter Mulder, secretary of the MIA Foundation, who has been tracing missing World War II soldiers.
“The adoption of a name on the Wall of the Missing means visiting the cemetery on a frequent basis, placing flowers on special days or occasions, when relatives wish to do so, and corresponding with the homeland,” said van der Sterren.
At the Military Cemetery in Margraten, there about 8, 301 buried U.S. soldiers and about 1,700 army and air-force servicemen names mentioned on the Wall of the Missing, which have all been adopted, van der Sterren said.
Just after World War II, people in the south of the Netherlands became involved with the adoption program to pay homage to their liberators and connect with their relatives, according to the Foundation for Adopting Graves American Cemetery Margraten.
“For us, it is the least we can do to show our gratitude and respect for what so many young men from far over the ocean did for us more than 70 years ago,” said van der Sterren.