Jewish cemetery Berlin-Weißensee

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Jewish cemetery
Coat of arms of Berlin.svg
Park in Berlin , Pankow district
Jewish cemetery Berlin-Weißensee
Basic data
place Berlin , Pankow district
District Weissensee
Created 1880
Newly designed in parts after World War II
Surrounding streets Herbert-Baum-Strasse, Indira-Gandhi-Strasse , Strasse 106
Buildings Celebration hall , Holocaust memorial
User groups pedestrian
Park design Hugo light
Technical specifications
Parking area 420,000 m²

The Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee is a burial place of the Jewish community in Berlin that was laid out in 1880 . With around 42 hectares (about 1.0 km long and 0.5 km wide) it is the largest preserved Jewish cemetery in Europe with almost 116,000 grave sites. Since the 1970s, he is under monument protection .

Location, description, development

Bronze relief on the back of the tombstone for Emil Cohn (1855–1909), a Kohen

Position and direction

The cemetery is located in the Berlin district of Pankow , district Weißensee , in the northeast of Berlin. The entrance is at the end of Herbert-Baum-Straße, a cross street off Berliner Allee . A second entrance, set up in 1924 from Lichtenberger Strasse (since 1985: Indira-Gandhi-Strasse ), is closed. The Indira-Gandhi-Straße limits the cemetery in the east along the district boundary to Lichtenberg , which follows the road 106 in the southeast. To the south-west, the district boundary to Prenzlauer Berg forms the cemetery edge with the surrounding wall in the extension of Gürtelstrasse . With the course of the district boundary 90 degrees to the northeast away from the allotment gardens, the composer's quarter borders ; The cemetery border runs in a straight line behind the (straight) properties on Puccinistraße to the main entrance, on the border with the St. Hedwig cemetery in Weißensee. The cemetery wall lies behind the southern plot of land on Chopinstrasse , behind the buildings of the former Spreequell brewery (mineral water department), the cemetery wall reaches Indira-Gandhi-Strasse to the southeast.

A corner in the north of the cemetery, which cuts off the original rectangle, was claimed for the planned extension of Kniprodestrasse, but was later removed from the planning .


The grave sites cover most of the cemetery. A 2.7 kilometer long brick cemetery wall was started when the cemetery was founded in 1880, expanded in 1910 and supplemented in 1945 after the end of the war. There are representative graves and mausoleums on the cemetery wall in the southern and western parts. The eastern boundary with graves from 1940 and 1941 lies directly on the plots of the allotment garden colony there. A new cemetery enclosure was built along Indira-Gandhi-Straße (until 1985: Lichtenberger Straße) from 1983 to 1984. Menorah symbols are on the concrete elements facing the street . Some openings with metal grids enable the symbolic connection between the cemetery and the outside world. The design for this cemetery boundary comes from the architect Gerd Pieper. There are numerous mausoleums and tombs as well as representative tombs in the cemetery distributed across the departments. The grave monuments include many monuments designed by renowned architects such as Walter Gropius (grave Albert Mendel, 1922/23), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (grave Perls, 1919) or Ludwig Hoffmann (grave Eugen Panowsky).

The graves that were laid out in the 1980s are located on the left behind the mourning hall; there is also an urn field here. A new department is located to the left of the main axis to Indira-Gandhi-Straße on the corner of Chopinstraße. There are also graves of Jewish migrants here.

The layout of the cemetery and most of the buildings go back to the design of the architect Hugo Licht (1841–1923). The graves are arranged in 120 grid-shaped grave fields, which have different strictly geometric shapes such as rectangles, triangles or trapezoids. The fields are labeled alphabetically and with numbers, from A1 at the main entrance to P5 on the southern edge. The area of ​​the cemetery is largely covered with trees. Several grave fields, especially in the right part of the cemetery from the main path, are covered with ivy , which should not be removed. There are only a few areas without occupied departments. According to Jewish tradition, graves are not re-occupied, but are considered burial areas until the Last Judgment .

Buildings in the cemetery

Access to the mourning hall

The ensemble of buildings at the main entrance to the cemetery as well as the cemetery wall at this point are built in the Italian Neo-Renaissance style from yellow bricks. The buildings in the entrance area are flanked by two-storey low-rise buildings. On the right is the cemetery administration with the important archive and on the left the Tahara House . Both buildings are connected to each other and to the mourning hall by arcades. Seen from the entrance, this is behind the arcades and towers above the other buildings. It is a square central building with three rectangular extensions and a semicircular apse , which is vaulted by an octagonal drum . The buildings mentioned enclose a square courtyard.

A second mourning hall with outbuildings in the back of the cemetery, built in 1910, and the large cemetery nursery were destroyed in the Second World War. The ruins were removed around 1980, and a hilly field still reveals the previous location.


Directly at the entrance area, behind the magnificent wrought iron portal, there is a memorial to the six million victims of the Holocaust . In the middle of the roundabout is a central memorial stone of the Jewish community in Berlin with the following inscription:

“Remember forever what happened to us. Dedicated to the memory of our murdered brothers and sisters 1933-1945 and the living who should fulfill the legacy of the dead. "

- The Jewish Community in Berlin

The memorial stone is surrounded in a circle by other lying stones with the names of concentration camps .

To the right of the buildings in the entrance area begins the so-called row of honor, which contains the graves of special personalities. The gravestone of the resistance fighter against National Socialism, Herbert Baum, is also located here . Baum's body was buried here in 1949 after his grave was found and the body exhumed. On the back of the tombstone are the names of 27 other members of the Herbert Baum group who were executed in 1942/1943. The street leading to the entrance to the cemetery has been named after Baum since 1951.

There are also 1650 graves of Jews who committed suicide during the Nazi regime in the cemetery. In Department VII there is an urn field with the ashes of Jews murdered in concentration camps. Many gravestones testify to the deceased, whose memory can only be preserved symbolically by relatives, as their true burial site remained unknown. In the vicinity of the second entrance, which was later opened, there is a memorial for the Jewish soldiers who died in the First World War . The grave field with the simple graves was laid out in 1914, but the monumental memorial stone was only inaugurated in 1927.



In the second half of the 19th century, due to the strong growth of the Jewish community, it became apparent that the cemetery on Schönhauser Allee , which the Berlin Jewish community had been using since 1827, would soon be full. The community therefore acquired 42  hectares of land in what was then the Berlin suburb of Weissensee. Since the results of an architectural competition announced in 1878 did not produce satisfactory results, they had to be revised several times before Hugo Licht's design was finally awarded the contract to build the facility. The design included a site plan of the entire site, a mourning hall, a morgue , an office building and the walling including the entrance gate. The construction took place in 1879/80. The cemetery was inaugurated on September 9, 1880. Louis Grünbaum was the first to be buried in the cemetery on September 22, 1880.

Imperial Era and Weimar Republic

Mausoleum for Sigmund Aschrott (1826–1915), built according to plans by Bruno Schmitz

When the cemetery was founded, the grave sites were divided into hereditary burials , election sites and row sites . While earlier Jewish cemeteries were characterized by relatively uniform, simple graves, splendid tombs of wealthy Jews from the city who had adapted to bourgeois society in the German Empire were built in Weißensee soon after the inauguration . This should also be expressed in the cemetery, where tombs similar to those in the city's large Christian cemeteries were made. In addition to the Hebrew inscriptions, German inscriptions appeared increasingly, sometimes even exclusively. In this way, the Jewish community differed significantly from the Orthodox Jews of the Adass Jisroel community , which also established the Adass-Jisroel cemetery in Weißensee in 1880 on Wittlicher Strasse just two kilometers to the north. Cremations were also possible in the Weißensee cemetery.

A field of honor was laid out in 1914 near the former entrance from Lichtenberger Strasse (→ Indira-Gandhi-Strasse), on which Jewish soldiers who died in World War I are buried. The U-shaped complex was built under the direction of the imperial architect Alexander Beer and is surrounded by a man-high limestone wall. The graves were embedded in the lawn and overgrown with ivy , they carry very simple tombstones. In between there are poplars and lilac hedges. The memorial, which was already planned at that time, was only erected in 1927; this was also designed by Alexander Beer. It is a three-meter-high monolith made of shell limestone that stands on a slab-covered square on the terrace at the end of the Ehrenfeld.

In the 1920s, the Berlin magistrate acquired a route running across the property for an arterial road leading from the center to the northern districts of the city . No grave fields were created on the strip.

time of the nationalsocialism

The persecution of the Jews during the Nazi era also left its mark on the cemetery. Desperate about the persecution and imminent deportations , many Jewish residents of Berlin committed suicide, which led to the number of burials peaking in 1942. A total of 1,907 Jews are buried in the cemetery, which between 1933 and 1945 suicide committed. There is also a grave field on which the ashes of 809 Jews who were murdered in concentration camps are buried. On other gravestones you can find the names of many more victims of the Holocaust , mainly family members were thought of as such.

Overgrown mausoleum

In the spring of 1943, members of the Berlin Jewish Community hid 583  Torah scrolls in the New Celebration Hall built in 1910 in the south-eastern part of the cemetery. These were badly damaged by an incendiary bomb in the summer of 1943 and could only partially be recovered from the rubble. About 90 of the scrolls were so badly burned or destroyed that they could only be buried in the immediate vicinity of the flower hall at the main entrance. The remaining Torah scrolls were kept in a cellar under the flower hall until the end of the war and later handed over to the synagogues in Berlin, the Federal Republic of Germany and other European countries. A memorial stone with a symbolic burial (row A1) commemorates the destruction of Jewish documents:

"Here are violated Torah scrolls."

Until the early 1940s, the cemetery nursery trained Jews to be gardeners so that they could build a new life after their intended emigration, especially to Palestine . During the time of the deportations, the cemetery also provided temporary shelter for Jews in hiding. With the bombing raids on Berlin from 1943 to 1945, a large number of bombs also hit the Jewish cemetery, around 4,000 graves were damaged; the cemetery nursery and the new celebration hall were largely destroyed.

It cannot be ruled out that illegal burials had taken place on the strip-shaped area that had been kept free of burials for the construction of the arterial road.

The lack of desecration of the cemetery by the National Socialists and the organization of the cemetery under Jewish self-administration (contrary to many other vandalized or destroyed Jewish cemeteries in Germany or Europe) cannot be conclusively clarified. In the documentary In heaven, under the earth by Britta Wauer this question will be: According to Hermann Simon from Berlin Centrum judaicum this was probably the size of the cemetery. A contemporary witness, Harry Kindermann, explains in the documentary that the National Socialists believed in a golem who, in their opinion, lived in the cemetery and therefore defended it against attackers:

“This Jewish cemetery was embedded in a certain superstition among the Nazis. That means, apparently there were rumors that something was wrong somehow. There's such a ghost, such a golem - it's not entirely kosher. And that was the main reason why the military and police did not enter the cemetery, and therefore practically all of this has been preserved. Think how many Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated. Nothing at all happened here. "

After the Second World War

Memorial hour for the Jewish victims of National Socialism, 1945

After the Jewish community split up in 1955, the West Berlin Jewish community laid out the cemetery on Heerstrasse . Since then, only the ever smaller East Berlin Jewish community has used the Weißensee cemetery. The East Berlin magistrate made no effort to preserve this Jewish heritage until 1977 when it recognized the cemetery as a “monument to cultural history”. As a result, the magistrate took over the personnel costs for the maintenance of the cemetery and set up the municipal garden department. The paths have been restored and graves renovated. Student groups and groups from Aktion Sühnezeichen helped to repair the damage in the cemetery.

Growing graves. Jewish graves are up until Judgment Day and have no grave decorations with flowers.

In the 1970s, East Berlin revived the older plans for the arterial road. Between Artur-Becker-Straße (since 1992 Kniprodestraße again) and Hansastraße , traffic was to be led out of town via the strip that was kept free in the cemetery. The road would have cut the cemetery into two parts connected only by pedestrian bridges. The East Berlin Jewish community approved the plan in writing in 1982. Construction work began in 1986. Already in 1980 a report in the New York German-Jewish weekly newspaper Aufbau about the bad conditions of the Jewish cemeteries in the GDR led to private restoration initiatives in the USA and Israel for the destroyed East Berlin Adass-Jisroel-Friedhof. They received no attention from either the East Berlin Jewish community or those in charge of the GDR. This changed from 1985, when the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) made a policy change towards the Jewish heritage in the GDR, mainly for foreign policy reasons. In East Berlin in particular, the preparations for the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987, which were competing with West Berlin, had an accelerating effect at the highest point. Erich Honecker personally ordered the restoration of the Adass-Jisroel-Friedhof in November 1985. In the following year, the Ministry of State Security had to abandon a construction project on a part of the cemetery property that had previously been purchased by the Jewish community because of the risk of grave desecration . A report by the Jerusalem chief rabbis Jitzhak Kolitz (1922–2003) and Schalom Messach, which confirmed the integrity of the graves there under religious law, had contributed to this. In the meantime, the SED has registered protests against road construction in the Weissensee cemetery for the same reason at home and abroad. From June 1986, the opposition group Women for Peace in the GDR had raised awareness of road construction with protest campaigns, work in the cemetery and public relations work. With regard to the possible “accusation of desecration of graves and cemeteries by certain imperialist circles in the FRG, the USA and Israel”, who thereby want to “raise doubts in the basic anti-fascist attitude of our state policy”, the SED functionary in charge recommended Rudi Bellmann at the end of September 1986 in the future to avoid everything that “could nourish the effects of opposing defamations and distortions”. In October 1986, Honecker ordered the construction work to be terminated. Thus, the cemetery has been preserved as a unit. The forecourt at the main entrance was named in 1995 by Markus Reich , the founder of the Israelite Deaf-Mute Asylum .

A tree grows out of a grave.

Since 1990

The greater commitment in the 1980s as well as the increased efforts after reunification in 1990 were not enough to keep the cemetery in a dignified form. While around 200 employees were responsible for maintaining the cemetery in the 1920s, there were only 16 permanent employees in the 1980s. After 1990 there were even fewer, the number of which could be increased by ABM and MAE staff .

The Jewish community estimated the financial requirements for the complete restoration of the cemetery complex at 40 million euros (as of 2005). On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the opening of the cemetery, the Jewish Community of Berlin appealed to the Federal Government in September 2005 to do more to preserve the cemetery and suggested that it be entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List . This demand was also supported by the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit . The appeal was not without consequences: In 2010, the state of Berlin started a comprehensive renovation of the cemetery wall. Of the total of 2,785 meters, 1,650 meters had been repaired by April 2013, for which a total of almost two million euros was invested. The reconstruction of the cemetery wall, erected in 1880, is an important basis for preserving the tombs and mausoleums of the burial site. The then urban development senator Michael Müller and the chairman of Berlin's Jewish community Gideon Joffe marked the completion of the first phase of the renovation work on April 24, 2013. In a further phase, another 500,000 euros were to be spent.

In addition, other areas such as 10 significant wall graves could be renovated, the total costs of 284,000 euros from the federal government , the state of Berlin and the Jewish community itself. In addition to the original parts of the cemetery wall, the concrete slabs set up along Indira-Gandhi-Straße in the 1970s with integrated symbolized Jewish chandeliers were restored and protected against wild graffiti (phase 2 of the wall renovation).

Since 1988, the last surviving tombstones and memorial plaques from the Jewish cemetery in Grosse Hamburger Strasse in Berlin-Mitte had been stored in the cemetery . Since the end of 2009 you have been back at the old location on Große Hamburger Straße. These are the oldest surviving documents of the Berlin community, founded in 1671, 20 stones were created in the first years since 1672. The baroque monuments were built into the south wall of the old cemetery around 1880 and thus survived the destruction of the cemetery in 1943. The Förderverein Jüdischer Friedhof eV has existed since 2002, chaired by Hermann Simon from the Centrum Judaicum Foundation New Synagogue .

On October 3, 1999, the cemetery was desecrated and over a hundred tombstones were destroyed. The perpetrators could not be identified. Some stonemasons agreed to repair the stones free of charge. One of them then received death threats over the phone, and ultimately strangers destroyed his workshop. A fundraising campaign by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation compensated the stonemason for part of the damage.

Graves of important personalities

See also


  • Dietmar Strauch: Adagio - Feld O. Biographical research at the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee . edition progris, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-88777-015-0 .
  • Regina Borgmann, Dietmar Strauch: The Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee. A guide through its history . progris, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-88777-019-6 .
  • Michael Brocke among others: stone and name. The Jewish cemeteries in East Germany (New Federal States / GDR and Berlin). Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-923095-19-8 . Pp. 156-193.
  • Alfred Etzold, Joachim Fait, Peter Kirchner , Heinz Knobloch : The Jewish cemeteries in Berlin. Henschel Verlag, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-362-00557-8 .
  • Peter Melcher: Weissensee. A cemetery as a reflection of Jewish history in Berlin. Haude and Spener, Berlin 1986, ISBN 3-7759-0282-1 .
  • The architectural and art monuments of the GDR - Berlin, II. Ed. Institute for Monument Preservation at Henschelverlag, Berlin 1984. pp. 141–149.
  • Klaus Konrad Weber, Peter Güttler, Ditta Ahmadi (eds.): Berlin and its buildings. Part X Volume A: Facilities and structures for supply (3) Funeral services. Verlag von Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1981, ISBN 3-433-00890-6 .
  • Jörg Haspel and Klaus von Krosigk (eds.): Garden monuments in Berlin - cemeteries. Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, edited by Katrin Lesser, Jörg Kuhn and Detlev Pietzsch. (Contributions to the preservation of monuments 27), Petersberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-86568-293-2 .
  • Britta Wauer, Amélie Loisier: The Jewish cemetery Weissensee. Moments of history. be.bra, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-8148-0172-8 .
  • Alfred Etzold, The Jewish Cemetery Berlin-Weißensee. A Berlin cultural monument of world renown. Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-938485-17-0 .
  • The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery, Berlin. Edited by the Jewish Community in Berlin, edited by Regina Borgmann, Fiona Laudamus, Jörg Kuhn, Wolfgang Gottschalk and Klaus von Krosigk. Berlin 2011.


In the Netflix mini-series "Unorthodox", there is a scene in the cemetery.

Web links

Commons : Jüdischer Friedhof Berlin-Weißensee  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Architectural and garden monument cemetery of the Jewish community at Herbert-Baum-Straße 45
  2. ^ Plan of Berlin. Pages 4323, 4324, 4227, 4228 , also Straubeplan I H, I M, I N, around the Soldner coordinates X = 29010 / Y = 23980.
  3. a b Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. In: Berliner Morgenpost. December 4, 2009, accessed May 18, 2020 .
  4. Regina Scheer: Connections. No Good place for Gerda W. . In: the Friday of October 15, 1999; accessed on February 6, 2018.
  5. Ulrike Offenberg : "Be careful against those in power". The Jewish communities in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR 1945–1990 . Structure, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-351-02468-1 , p. 315, footnote 13.
  6. Ulrike Offenberg : "Be careful against those in power". The Jewish communities in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR 1945–1990 . Structure, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-351-02468-1 , p. 315, footnote 13; Martin Riesenburger's estate contains references to such burials , see p. 248.
  7. Hans-Günther Dicks: From the life among the dead. »In Heaven, Below Earth«: Britta Wauer's documentary about the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee . In: Neues Deutschland from February 15, 2011; accessed on April 5, 2019.
  8. Ayala Goldmann: Stories behind gravestones. Documentary about the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee . In: Deutschlandfunk Kultur from April 8, 2011; accessed on April 5, 2019.
  9. Ehrhart Neubert wrote a special role in: History of the Opposition in the GDR 1949–1989. Links, Berlin 1998, ISBN 978-3-86153-163-0 , p. 580; ( limited preview in the Google book search) Irena Kukutz , however Michael Sontheimer and Peter Wensierski in: Berlin - City of Revolte . Links, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86153-988-9 , p. 229 ff .; ( limited preview in Google book search) Bärbel Bohley too. The results of Ulrike Offenberg in: "Be careful against those in power". The Jewish communities in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR 1945–1990 . Construction, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-351-02468-1 , pp. 242-250, were not known to Neubert, Sontheimer and Wensierski did not refer to them.
  10. Ulrike Offenberg: "Be careful against those in power". The Jewish communities in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR 1945–1990 . Structure, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-351-02468-1 , pp. 242-250, Bellmann quotations p. 248.
  11. Annett Heide: A wall that should stay. In Berliner Zeitung from April 25, 2013; Retrieved April 27, 2013
  12. ↑ The Jewish cemetery is being restored. On; accessed on February 5, 2018.
  13. Internet presence of the "New Synagogue Berlin Foundation - Centrum Judaicum"
  14. Panorama: In Heaven, Under Earth. The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery . Film data sheet, Berlin International Film Festival 2011
  15. ^ Website for the documentary about the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee Im Himmel, unter der Erde , 2011

Coordinates: 52 ° 32 ′ 41 ″  N , 13 ° 27 ′ 30 ″  E