Golzheim cemetery

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The Golzheimer Friedhof is a former cemetery in Düsseldorf . The northern part of the cemetery (north of Klever Straße ) is in the Golzheim district , the southern part in the Pempelfort district . Today the cemetery is used as a public green area; the remaining tombstones are under monument protection .


View of the southern part of the Golzheim cemetery
View with neo-Gothic "Jesuit Monument", 1843, Dietrich Meinardus based on a design by Johannes Kühlwetter
Old grave with iron bars
Tomb of the painter Theodor Mintrop , illustration in the gazebo , 1872, today in the Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf (field 72)

The Golzheimer Friedhof is the first communal burial place in Düsseldorf. Before it was built, burials were carried out in the churchyard of the collegiate church of St. Lambertus in the old town . When this churchyard had to be abandoned in the second half of the 18th century due to overcrowding and the associated hygiene problems, the Catholic community first built a replacement cemetery in front of the Flingertor . However, since this soon proved to be an obstacle in urban planning and the two Protestant communities in the city also needed a burial place, the Palatinate-Bavarian Elector Maximilian Joseph , then sovereign of the Duchy of Berg , commissioned his Düsseldorf court architect Kaspar Anton Huschberger on January 27, 1804 to look for a new cemetery location. The choice for a cemetery that was open to both denominations well outside the city limits at that time fell on an approximately rectangular plot of land around two kilometers north of the city limits, near the village of Golzheim and in the immediate vicinity of the banks of the Rhine and Golzheimer Insel . Since the river had formed an approx. 2 m high sandbank here, flood protection , the necessary distance from the groundwater level and the nature of the soil for burials were given.

According to the denomination of the deceased, the cemetery was divided into two sections when it was built; the Catholics received the larger, southern part of the burial site, corresponding to their higher proportion of the population. The new cemetery was opened in 1805; The first funeral was held there on May 22nd of the same year. In the very first years of its existence the cemetery was poorly equipped; so there was neither tree planting nor fencing or an entrance gate. The plans for the construction of a cemetery wall for the Golzheim cemetery already existed at the beginning of the 19th century, but were not realized for a long time , also because of the financial shortage caused by the war .

A painting of the Golzheim cemetery around 1830 by Caspar Scheuren
Grave of Maximilian Weyhe, restored in 2008
Schwesig memorial stone behind the artist's studio house (2020)

The planned construction work was not started until 1816, after Düsseldorf, the capital of the former Grand Duchy of Berg, came to Prussia and became the seat of a government president. In that year the cemetery, which had become too small in the meantime, was enlarged to about three times its original area through the purchase of some surrounding arable land. At the same time, the Prussian government commissioned the court gardener Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe , whose name is also known in connection with the design of the Melaten cemetery in Cologne , with the horticultural design of the Golzheim cemetery. The concept implemented by Weyhe (who later also found his final resting place here) envisaged the construction of an access road from the city to the main entrance of the burial place, as well as a network of paths within the cemetery that divided it into eight rectangular fields, a fence around the area through a hawthorn hedge and linden trees along the cemetery paths . In addition, the area leading to the banks of the Rhine was planted with bushes in the style of an English landscape park . Together with the location close to the shore, all of this made the cemetery into a very scenic area, which Düsseldorfers liked to use for excursions and walks and which was also a popular motif for landscape painters . While the Weyhe path division and the planting have been partially preserved, nothing today reminds of the originally idyllic scenic location, as the adjacent area and the path leading to the banks of the Rhine have long been built over.

In 1825, a new burial order came into effect for the city of Düsseldorf, which, in addition to general regulations regarding the conduct of burials, also contained some special regulations for the Golzheim cemetery. In addition to the fixed sizes of the graves and the funeral fees, these also included the option of acquiring and setting up hereditary burials at the Golzheim cemetery. The space on the hedges was determined for these. Today, however, only very few hereditary burial sites have been preserved in the Golzheim cemetery. The originally widespread iron bars with which individual family graves were enclosed have also disappeared, with a few exceptions, as they were dismantled during the two world wars and melted down as war material. The burial order of 1825 remained in effect until the cemetery was closed.

In the course of the 19th century, the Golzheim cemetery was enlarged several times, which was necessary due to the rapid population growth of that time. As early as 1816, when the population of Düsseldorf had grown from around 16,000 in the year the cemetery was founded to around 22,000, the first cemetery expansion mentioned above was carried out by Maximilian Weyhe together with the horticultural design. In 1838 - the population of Düsseldorf was now 30,000 - the second expansion took place, in 1869 the third, with around 65,000 inhabitants. After all, the cemetery had to be enlarged for the last time in 1875, after the number of inhabitants in Düsseldorf had risen to 80,000, driven by the upswing of the Wilhelminian era , and reached its maximum area of 34.5 acres ; a further enlargement was not possible due to the neighboring buildings and the natural limitation of the area by the Rhine. The expansion areas, some of which at that time reached right up to the banks of the Rhine, are now largely built over.

The last major construction project at Golzheimer Friedhof was the erection of a morgue in 1875. The cemetery received such a building for the first time in 1829, when an old barn in an adjacent field was converted for this purpose. Due to the fact that this actually misappropriated building for use as a morgue had some defects, as well as the population growth and the resulting increasing number of burials, a new morgue had to be built, which finally happened in 1875 according to a design by the city master builder Eberhard Westhofen . The elongated brick building, which was also used as a cemetery chapel after its completion, no longer exists as it was destroyed during the bombing in World War II.

Since it was no longer possible to expand the cemetery again, but the population of Düsseldorf continued to grow and in the mid-1880s it already had more than 100,000 inhabitants, the space in the cemetery was now running out towards the end of the 19th century. To relieve the Golzheim cemetery, two new burial sites were created by the city: the Stoffeler cemetery, opened in 1879, and the northern cemetery , which was inaugurated five years later and , after being expanded several times, is now the city's largest necropolis . The now almost fully occupied Golzheim cemetery was closed to new burials in 1884; In existing family burials could be buried until 1897.

Just a few years after it was closed, the Golzheim cemetery stood in the way of a newly planned connecting road, today's Klever Straße . After public protests and protracted expropriation processes , the Prussian state finally enforced a leveling of the part of the cemetery where the street was supposed to run. As a result, the cemetery was cut into two separate parts, between which Klever Straße still runs today. Holders of the rights to use family graves that were located in the part of the cemetery that was to be leveled were offered to relocate the graves to the north cemetery, which was done en masse. Among the buried graves were some well-known personalities, such as that of the composer Norbert Burgmüller or the painter Theodor Mintrop , who has also been buried in the north cemetery since then. The 12 meter high Hochkreuz from the years 1850/1851, which is now located on the “million hill” of the north cemetery, originally stood in the middle of the Golzheim cemetery, i.e. exactly where Klever Straße runs today, and was raised from there in 1905 transferred the north cemetery.

As a result of the developments around the cemetery that took place in the following ten years, including the construction of the building for the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court and the construction of the adjacent section of the banks of the Rhine (the former sandbank, where the Rheinpark is now located, was built up in 1902), the original scenic attractiveness of the burial site was finally lost. The Golzheim cemetery suffered a lot of damage during the Second World War, when the former morgue and several grave sites, some of which were worth preserving, were destroyed in bomb attacks. The reconstruction measures, which were carried out by a local history association after the war, also included the erection of simple memorial stones on the graves of important Düsseldorf residents, whose original gravestones were no longer preserved. Although the Golzheim cemetery was listed as a historical monument in 1982, it is still in poor condition, as many of the 350 old tombs are suffering from temporary decay as well as vandalism and careless treatment by cemetery visitors and walkers to have.

The site adjacent to Fischerstrasse and used as a parking lot was sold to Victoria Insurance in 2008, which set up a data center at the southern end east of the cemetery. Citizens' protests arose in the run-up to the sale, which led to a modification of the building project and the establishment of a foundation for the cemetery by the insurance company. A referendum against the sale then failed. The site of the Robert Schumann University adjoins the northern part of the facility .

Graves of important personalities (selection)

Golzheimer Friedhof Düsseldorf, northern part, site plan
Golzheimer Friedhof Düsseldorf, southern part, site plan
Alfred Rethel's tomb , photo by Erwin Quedenfeldt (1911)
Tomb of the painter August Weber (2020)
Tomb of the Dietze couple

(N = northern part, S = southern part, NE = grave not preserved)

Schwesig memorial stone

Memorial stone for the painter Karl Schwesig, who also commemorates the persecuted Düsseldorf artists Monjau, Levin and Ludwigs. The memorial for victims of National Socialism was initiated by the painter and art collector Carl Lauterbach . The painter Günther Cremers (1928–2004), chairman of the Düsseldorf Artists Association , sketched the stone and the master stonemason of the southern cemetery Josef Müller, known as Jupp, made it. An architectural fragment of the facade of the Kunsthalle , which was destroyed in World War II , was used and erected in June 1982 on the southern part of the Golzheimer Friedhof, field 1.

  • Inscription:
In memory of the painter Karl Schwesig June 19, 1898 June 19, 1955
Painter Franz Monjau 1903–1945 Buchenwald concentration camp
Painter Peter Ludwigs 1888–1943 Gestapo detention Düsseldorf
Painter Julo Levin 1901–1943 Auschwitz concentration camp


The poet Karl Immermann , who was buried in the Golzheim cemetery, portrayed the burial site with the following poem:

The cemetery is
quiet on the flowing stream.
The cloud flies
quietly over the linden cathedral.
The graves are
a permanent home for all time.
Flood, clouds and wind
whisper your dead in vain

See also

Web links

Commons : Golzheimer Friedhof  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. Schwesig Memorial Stone , on d: kult, accessed on October 3, 2017

Coordinates: 51 ° 14 ′ 23.1 ″  N , 6 ° 46 ′ 25.1 ″  E