The Heerstrasse Cemetery is located directly next to the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Trakehner Allee. Here in the district of Westend is the final resting place of numerous well-known personalities.
Admittedly, the name “Heerstrasse Cemetery” is somewhat confusing. Heerstraße is not far away by foot, but not directly at the cemetery. The cemetery got its name from the villa colony Heerstraße. The cemetery was established in 1924-1924 for the residents of this colony. The design of the entire facility was in prominent hands. Erwin Barth, the Charlottenburg garden director at the time, planned the grounds.
Today, the interdenominational park and forest cemetery is nearly 150,000 square feet and terraced around Sausuhlensee Lake.
Cemetery Heerstrasse – a walk
I enter the cemetery at the main entrance and the first thing that catches my eye is the mourning hall. It was built in 1921-23.
Erich Blunck designed a very solid-looking brick building that nestles against the steeply sloping terrain. A flight of steps leads to the entrance. The exterior walls are unadorned and there are almost no windows.
During research I learned that the mourning hall originally had a pyramid-like roof. For the 1936 Olympics, this had to be taken down because it could be seen from the access road to the Reichssportfeld. This apparently disturbed the rulers of the time. It could also have been due to the fact that there were also graves of Jewish Berliners in the cemetery, which did not fit into the prevailing scheme of the time. The roof was replaced by a flatter tent roof. During the war, the mourning hall was severely damaged and later reconstructed.
Before my visit I had looked at the cemetery map and actually it was clear to me where exactly I wanted to look for certain gravesites. That a one-dimensional plan of course in reality completely different, I quickly noticed. The paths lead down the almost 20 meter steep slope.
The graves are located on small terraces and the numbering of the plots on the plan is often hard to find. The search for a particular grave quickly turns into a “treasure hunt”. Fortunately, there are many nice cemetery walkers who give you helpful directions.
If you didn’t know that you were in a cemetery, you might think you were walking in a park. The lake, it was even frozen during my visit, is so quiet and peaceful there. There are benches on the shore and even in winter people sat here and enjoyed the peace.
The western area of the cemetery is somewhat flatter. Here the paths are laid out in a star shape starting from a traffic circle. After the Second World War an extension to the east took place. More space was urgently needed for the numerous war dead. 1342 war victims found their last resting place in two war grave fields.
There are 51 honorary gravesites of the State of Berlin at Heerstraße Cemetery. Since 2010, there has also been a “communal gravesite” of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. (German War Graves Commission).
Gravesites of some famous people
If one walks through the many rows along the graves, one notices names from time to time that “one” knows. Surely everyone knows other names – whether politician, artist or art lover – whether journalist or novelist – whether musician or industrialist – on the cemetery Heerstrasse they lie peacefully next to each other.
On my tour I discovered, for example, the grave of the actor Horst Buchholz and the grave of the actor Klausjürgen Wussow.
I searched a bit for the grave of Vicco von Bülow, who became known as Loriot, decorated with rubber ducks. It’s a pity that there is no wood pug here, I associate it with Loriot.
Very unusual is the grave of Georg Kolbe. Here are steles designed by him, which remind of his beautiful works, which can be seen nearby in the Georg Kolbe Museum.
Soccer fans will certainly remember Helmut “Fiffi” Kronsbein, a legend among German soccer players and coaches. And Karl Bonhoeffer, who was director of the Clinic for Mental and Nervous Diseases at the Charité, is certainly not only known to Berliners.
There is a memorial stone for Gunter Gabriel in the Heerstrasse cemetery. Doesn’t it have a wonderful inscription?
Trakehner Allee 1,