Earlier this week, while on the far West side of Berlin, I happened to come across Waldfriedhof Dahlem, a cemetery obscured from plain view by lush vegetation and trees. Cemeteries are relatively common in Berlin. The city itself has upwards of 15 cemeteries, which seems like a lot to me, although maybe for a population of 3.5 million it isn’t. Either way, Berlin cemeteries are great because they are so integrated in their surroundings. Instead of being restricted to churches or the outskirts of town, they are in the city, and people have simply built around them. So it’s not entirely strange to just be walking and come across one. Kreuzberg, where we live, has three cemeteries, and Zehlendorf, where this one is, is the area of the city with the most, four.
While I don’t have any kind of particular fascination with cemeteries, I have recently thought more about their use, not just as a place to visit and remember people, but also as a functional way of keeping track of people. It’s probably the fear of a lot of people that they will die and, after a certain amount of time, maybe when everyone they knew is also dead, will be forgotten. I admit this is something I think about too. And while M. and I both wish to be cremated, I still think there is something romantic about the notion of living on, even if only as a name on a plaque posted on a plot of land.
It seems as though every day, my “Berlin Bucket List” grows longer and longer, but among all the other items on the list, I would also like to visit all of the cemeteries in Berlin.