The Fürstenbrunner Weg cemetery is located in the Westend district of Berlin. It is two cemeteries that are connected with each other: Luisenfriedhof III and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Cemetery.
Although several family members of mine have found their final resting place on this cemetery site, I did not realize until now that the large site is two cemeteries. A real separation is not visible at first sight.
At the end of the 19th century, the Luisenfriedhof II had become too small and a new site had to be found. The site of the church-owned sand pit outside the built-up area of Charlottenburg offered an ideal location. In 1891, the landscape gardener Otto Vogler was entrusted with the design of the grounds. He laid out an avenue cemetery, planted 500 avenue trees and many other native plants. The first burial took place in June 1891.
One enters the grounds through a gate with the wrought-iron lettering. To the right is an administrative building that originally housed the administration of the three Luisen cemeteries and had an apartment for the gravedigger. The administration still exists here.
The cemetery chapel was made of light red brick with some early Gothic style elements. From my memory – inside it is quite plainly designed and you sit on uncomfortable wooden benches.
In 1905 the cemetery was extended to the south. Here, too, the paths are laid out geometrically. Until today, little has changed in the design. The southwest corner of the cemetery is used by the Armenian community of Berlin.
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Friedhof (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Parish)
At the end of the 19th century, the Lutheran Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Friedhof was founded. Part of the Luisengemeinde was absorbed into the new congregation. The Luisengemeinde donated an area north of the Luisenfriedhof III to the new community so that they could build their own cemetery.
Visually, this cemetery was also laid out as an avenue quarter cemetery and many avenue trees were planted. The first burial took place in July 1896. Mainly members of the educated middle class who had settled around Kurfürstendamm were buried here. Many felt the need to make their social status clear beyond death and spent a lot of money to design the gravesites.
The cemetery chapel dates back to 1903 and is the only cemetery chapel in Berlin that has a crypt system in the basement. There are 16 crypts of different sizes. The sale of the crypts financed the construction of the chapel at that time.
Tour of the cemetery Fürstenbrunner Weg
During my tour of the Fürstenbrunner Weg cemetery, I did not pay attention to which of the two cemeteries I was in exactly. I strolled through the rows of graves, discovered new graves with fresh loving planting as well as old and overgrown graves. In both cemeteries there are graves of art-historical importance with unique gravestones, which I liked sometimes more and sometimes less. Graves of well-known personalities, such as the actress Brigitte Mira* (1910-2005), the Berlin restaurateur August Aschinger (1862-1911), the Berlin factory owner Otto Lemm (1867-1920) and John Rabe (1882-1950) the head of the Siemens branch in Shanghai, the “Oskar Schindler of China”.
In a corner of the cemetery I discover a memorial for the fallen of the First World War. The memorial was built in 1922 and is part of the garden monument. Via a staircase one can climb to a small platform from which one can look over the cemetery.
There are also graves with war graves in the cemeteries. 816 war victims have been buried here.
In 1914, the factory owner Warburg had a monumental burial ground built near the chapel of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Friedhof. The style of the complex is adapted to the design of the chapel. A few steps lead to a richly decorated mock portal, in which there is a marble sculpture. It represents a mourner with a lyre.
Memorial for victims of genocide
Since 2015, a memorial for genocide victims in the Ottoman Empire has been located on the grounds of the Fürstenbrunner Weg cemetery. Here, the Armenians, Greeks from Asia Minor, Pontos and Eastern Thrace, as well as Arameans, Assyrians and Chaldeans who were persecuted and expelled in the Ottoman Empire are remembered.
Julius Valentin was a factory owner and sat on the supervisory board of AEG. Even before his death, he had his future tomb designed. It took 10 years until the grave site was completed in time before his death. In the process, he had to negotiate with the municipality and the neighboring grave owners about his burial place; it is said that there was even a court hearing. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he had his tomb executed as a crypt. The entrance is located between two large slabs. At the back of the burial place he had a female sculpture placed with her gaze directed heavenward.
Otto Lemm was a shoe polish manufacturer from Berlin. A mausoleum was built for his family in the northeast corner of the cemetery. From the outside it was built visually matching the chapel. Inside it is said to be splendidly furnished. A large part of the walls are decorated with mosaics and in the apse there is a small altar….
Grave of Henny Porten
Less spectacular is the grave of Henny Porten, but for me one of the most touching moments when I found her final resting place. My grandfather, who is also buried in this cemetery, adored the actress very much and I had already gone in search of traces in the Deutsche Kinemathek.