Berlin Cemeteries, 1800 to 1920

Until the beginning of the 19th century, there were only a few institutional cemeteries, such as the Invalidenfriedhof (Invalids’ Cemetery), opened in 1748, closed in 1951, and the Garnisonsfriedhof (Garrison Cemetery), presumably opened in 1702 or 1706, and closed in 1951; other than that, there were only denominational cemeteries.

The first municipal cemeteries were built exclusively as paupers’ cemeteries, e.g., the Armenfriedhof Friedenstraße (Friedenstraße paupers’ cemetery), opened in 1800 and closed in 1881, or the cemetery on Gerichtstraße in Wedding, opened in 1828, for the growing population meant that there were also more poor people, who had to provided with burial capacities. The Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde (Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery) too, opened in 1881 as the first not-denominational and municipal graveyard, initially served primarily as a paupers’ cemetery.

For reasons of sanitation and due to the changing societal view of death at the beginning of the 19th century, a particular design of cemeteries and graves, based on foreign models, took hold. In order to achieve maximum spatial economy, cemeteries were designed geometrically (so-called “Alleequartier”-cemeteries, with square sections divided by tree-lined pathways), and were planted with trees and fragrant blooming shrubs around the graves. The development of horticultural design and landscaping had a major influence on cemetery design. The first park and forest cemeteries were built at the end of the 19th century.

With industrialization, Berlin’s population and that of the adjoining suburbs rose rapidly, e.g., from about. 2.5 million in 1900, to about 3.1 million in 1902. Due to the high death rates, the existing cemeteries were soon full. As a result, large municipal and denominational cemeteries were built, including In den Kisseln in Spandau in 1885, the Luisenfriedhof I (Queen Louise Cemetery I) in 1891; the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Friedhof (Emperor William Memorial Cemetery) in 1896, and the Parkfriedhof Lichterfelde (Lichterfelde Park Cemetery) in 1908. The Berlin City Synodal Association consecrated the Ostfriedhof Ahrensfelde (Ahrensfelde East Cemetery) in 1908 and the Südwestfriedhof (Southwest Cemetery) in Stahnsdorf in 1909, both of which were far outside Berlin.

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