The Cemeteries at Mehringdamm

If you wander through the cemetery gates at 21 Mehringdamm, you may be forgiven for thinking that you are entering just one cemetery instead of five.

During the reign of King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia in 1735, work began on the cemeteries outside the city gate of Hallesches Tor for the parishes of Jerusalem Church and New Church as burials were no longer permitted within the city gates. Cemeteries for the Trinity Church, Bethlehem Church (for the Bohemian community, who fled to Berlin in 1732) and Morovian Church followed.

Here’s a plan of the cemeteries today:

Cemeteries at Mehringdamm plan

The place has an improvised, mishmash feel to it because of the many changes its seen in its almost 300 year history. It has been through various expansions (especially when Friedrich Wilhelm II banned all burials in churches and inhabited areas in 1794) and suffered heavy damages during the second world war. The Berlin Wall separated the cemetery in the west from its parish in the east, which led to it falling into a state of neglect and disrepair, and between 1968 and 1971, the oldest part of Trinity Cemetery was lost when Bluecherstrasse was re-routed.

It’s an extremely interesting place to walk around, with many notable graves. Here are some highlights: 

Felix Mendelssohn grave

Felix Mendelssohn, composer, pianist, conductor

3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847

One of the most popular composers of the Romantic Era, most famous for his Wedding March, Elijah and Fingal’s Cave

Fanny Hensel grave

Fanny Hensel, composer, pianist

17 November 1805 – 11? May 1847

Nearby is the grave of Mendelssohn’s equally talented sister. A significant number of her works were published under his name. Felix Mendelssohn became very depressed after her death and died 6 months later. The line of song engraved on her stone translates roughly to “our thoughts and songs rise up to heaven.”

Franz Duncker grave

Franz Duncker, publisher, left-liberal politician and social reformer

4 June 1822 – 18 June 1888

Responsible for the left-liberal newspaper Berliner Volks-Zeitung, and a leader of the revolution of 1848. Together with Max Hirsch and Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch, he founded the  Hirsch-Dunckerschen Gewerkvereine, an early trade union movement.

Adelbert von Chamisso grave

Adelbert von Chamisso, poet and botanist

30 January 1781 – 21 August 1838

His most important work as a botanist was the description of trees of Mexico in 1830-1831, done with Diederich Franz Leonhard von Schlechtendal. As a poet, he was famous for Frauenliebe und -leben (1830), a cycle of lyrical poems set to music by Robert Schumann, Carl Loewe, and Franz Paul Lachner.

Anna Schramm grave

Anna Schramm, soprano, soubrette and actress.

8 April 1835 – 1 June 1916

Considered one of the most popular artists in Germany before the turn of the century.

There are many more notable graves here including ETA Hoffmann, Henriette Herz and Adelbert Delbruck. Look out especially for the graves of landscape painter Karl Wilhelm Bennewitz von Loefen and his wife, as they are each marked by a sculpture of a woman’s head by Ignaz Taschner.

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5 thoughts on “The Cemeteries at Mehringdamm

  1. Hey Englishman,

    if you are into old cemeteries you should definitely check out the “alte Matthäikirchhof”. It’s right behind S Yorkstraße and you can find a number of interesting old graves there, including some celebrities like the Brothers Grimm or the place where Stauffenberg and others got buried after their bomb attack on Hitler. And what is more: the little cafe right at the entrance serves amazing home-baked cakes!

  2. And to think I walked down the Mehringdamm and Yorck Strasse yesterday and did not know that I was passing by the graves of Mendelssohn, the Grimms and Anna Schramm!
    But I did not miss the Charell Exhibition at the Schwules Museum .. nor the Cafe do Brasil!

  3. Pingback: In search of Fanny Hensel: the two chairs of Berlin | shadowofthecourtesan

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