Apr 302013
Typical Grave

A Typical grave

With the beautiful spring days interspersed with the rain, and the need to occasionally “walk off” the stress of the last couple weeks, David and I decided to meander into the closest town of Bühl this last weekend.  There we happened upon a very friendly cat- and an unexpected graveyard.

Old Marker

One of the historic stones. This guy was born in 1772.

In Germany, as in many other places in Europe, you do not actually buy your burial plot- you rent it.  Usually the rent is for 20 years, but with family plots or special arrangements, sometimes the time periods are longer.  If you think of the number of people who have lived in Europe and the amount of space the continent covers, it rather makes sense.  This short-time approach does not, however, stop Germans from purchasing huge, ornate, marble headstones.  In some of the cemeteries we have been to, the older stones are piled around the outside of the yard.  But, in this one, there were only a couple of historic stones put to the sides.  And the rest of the place was filled with the relatively-recently departed.  I am not sure what happens to the stones that are no longer in use- German friends?  They must be pretty expensive, though, because every little dorf seems to have their own gravestone vendor.  As the communities only hold a couple hundred houses, one has to assume the attrition rate isn’t that huge.  In this little graveyard there were perhaps 1/2 dozen plots from the last 2 years.  These were easily spotted because they had simple wooden crosses instead of the marble stones.  Apparently it takes a while to get the stones installed.

Unlike similar venues in the US, graves here are tended to become fully flowered little gardens.  Since many of the families have lived in the same area for generations, I am guessing that perhaps tending the gardens is one of those Sunday after-church duties?  Whatever the case, the yard itself is set up to make it easy.  They have watering stations, complete with watering cans set up strategically around the yard.

Speaking of yard, the German word for cemetery is “friedhof” which translates roughly into “peaceful courtyard”.  I sort of like that :)  Another thing we noticed was that most of the residents were quite old- living into your 90’s seems to be the expected norm for this little village.

Just at the end of the walk is this large field inhabited by recently shorn sheep.  Sort of enhances the peaceful atmosphere, somehow.

  2 Responses to “Focus Point: German Cemeteries”

  1. In Crailsheim the older headstones were put into the wall that surrounded the cemetery. In another town the really old ones were put in the interior walls of the local church. These were all 100+ years old some dating back 500 years.

  2. […] Location, Location!  (incidentally, and coincidentally, I just posted a little overview of German Cemeteries on my other blog, should you be curious.  They are actually a bit different than ones in the […]

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