Graves in Germany

Funeral types in portrait!

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Grabarten in Deutschland

In Germany today there is a multitude of burial possibilities. However, we have to distinguish between burials on earth and cremation. While people depend on traditional burial methods for burial, the remains of cremation can find their final resting place much more flexibly. Nowadays, the new burial possibilities are almost exclusively for burials with the urn.

Note to the readers: This page is regularly updated and supplemented. However, we do not yet have all possibilities in our list. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Earth burials

Earth selection grave

With an earth grave you have the possibility to choose the location of the grave. Several burials are possible in this grave. In this case, however, the rest period must be extended sufficiently. Urns can also be buried in an earth grave. Likewise also larger grave surfaces are possible as for example double graves and the like.

Pro:

  • Grave location selectable
  • Right of use renewable
  • Further burial possible

Contra:

  • More expensive than a earth series grave

Earth series grave

With a row grave the position of the grave is given by the cemetery. Only one burial can take place in this grave. There are no larger grave areas leasable. After the rest period the grave is levelled and returned to the cemetery administration.

Pro:

  • Cheaper than an earth selection grave

Contra:

  • Grave position is prescribed
    Right of use non-extendable
    Only one funeral possible

Crypt

The crypt is an underground walled room in which a deceased person is buried. The coffin does not come into contact with the surrounding soil during this type of burial. For this reason, zinc coffins or stone sarcophagi are usually prescribed for such burials. There are tombs which are accessible. Mostly the crypt consists of a normal earth grave, which was bricked up.

Pro:

  • Long-term family burial site
    Quiet and isolated premises

Contra:

  • Very high acquisition and maintenance costs
    Cemetery must agree to construction

Mausoleum

The mausoleum is separated from the crypt in that the crypt is built underground and the mausoleum above ground. It is therefore a monumental tomb in the form of a building. Mausoleums can serve several purposes. Often not only the memory of the dead is in the foreground. Also the representation, the memory of the past or the appeal to posterity often play an important role. Today, mausoleums are usually listed as historical monuments.

Pro:

  • Long-term memorial and pilgrimage site
    Great design possibilities

Contra:

  • Very high acquisition and maintenance costs
    Grave is often regarded as a place of interest
    Cemetery must agree to construction

Cremation funeral

Urn selection grave

You have the same possibilities with an election grave as with an election grave. The location of the grave is freely selectable on the available cemetery areas. Several urn burials are also possible in one grave if the resting period for a new burial is sufficiently extended. You also have the possibility to lease larger grave areas at urn-selection graves.

Pro:

  • Grave position selectable
  • Right of use renewable
  • Further urn burials possible

Contra:

  • More expensive than a urn series grave

Urn series grave

The grave location of a urn row grave is specified by the cemetery administration. With this grave beard only one urn burial can take place. Also no larger grave areas are leasable. At the end of the rest period, the urn row grave is levelled and automatically returned to the cemetery administration.

Pro:

  • Cheaper than an urn selection grave

Contra:

  • Grave position is prescribed
  • Right of use non-extendable
  • Only one funeral possible

Urn community facility

These days, collectiv urn graves are usually offered as a complete package. This often includes the burial site, the grave care, and the gravestone or naming. The plant usually consists of a lawn area or ground covering plants and it is often worked with water areas. Sometimes also works of art are built from stone information or similar.

The advantage of a community urns lies clearly in the lack of grave maintenance. Especially in the case of larger sites, new acquaintances often arise through regular meetings at the burial site. Usually the costs of this burial place are however expensive due to the total package.

Pro:

  • No grave care necessary
  • Beautiful design of the tomb

Contra:

  • High digging costs due to complete package
  • Individual wishes usually not possible

Columbarium and Urnenstele

The columbarium and the urn-stones are widespread in the southern region. It is an above-ground structure in which the burial chambers are arranged in rows next to each other and one above the other. Often this is also called urn niche or urn wall. This burial mound is more and more in demand nowadays. Because by the closure with a marble plate no grave care results.

The Urnenstele is separated from a columbarium in that the Urnenstele is rather a narrow column and does not represent a larger building. A columbarium has a much larger base and is more of a building.

Pro:

  • No grave care necessary
  • Burial in a beautiful building

Contra:

  • Usually only closure plates can be designed according to specifications.
  • Grave costs mostly in the higher range

Burial at sea

In the case of a burial at sea, the urn is handed over to the sea. For this a special urn is necessary. The urn must consist of anhydrite or similar material which dissolves in the water. This ensures that the ash is completely combined with the water and that no residue remains on the seabed. Despite these requirements, there are only special areas where urns may be buried.

This area must lie outside the three-mile zone and may extend up to the twelve nautical mile limit. Outside this limit is the exclusive economic zone. This is a rare sea burial area. The time and geographical location of the burial are recorded in the ship’s logbook with the personal data of the deceased person. This is confirmed by a witness. The relatives usually receive a nautical chart from the nautical funeral parlour on which the burial area was marked.

Pro:

  • No burial place and therefore no grave care necessary.
  • Ash and urn are fully connected to the water
  • Mention by name of burial memorials at sea mostly possible

Contra:

  • No direct burial place as contact point for the relatives
  • Partly more expensive than a grave in a cemetery
  • Not every place of burial can be fulfilled

Ash meadow

The scattering of ashes on a meadow within a cemetery is allowed in Germany according to the funeral law in the federal states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia. For example, at the western cemetery in Rostock. The relatives gather at the edge of a meadow and the cemetery worker scatters the ashes with a special litter.

Normally the burial of ashes without an urn is not allowed in Germany. However, since the above-mentioned funeral laws were more liberal in the GDR era than the other German funeral laws and these laws were adopted almost unchanged in the subsequent amendment of the law, it is currently also possible to scatter the ashes without an ash capsule on a cemetery area in Rostock.

Pro:

  • Grave care is organized by the cemetery
  • No foreign residues in the bottom (ash capsule, decorative urn)

Contra:

  • Individual design of the gravesite is not possible.
  • Ashes are scattered in public

Funeral on private property

Bremen has taken a new path and liberalised the funeral law in 2015. Because here now the scattering of the ashes is permitted on a private property under strict conditions. For this however the deceased must during lifetimes:

  1. have written a decree,
  2. have given a person custody of the dead,
  3. submit a declaration of consent from the property owner and
  4. I’ll make an affidavit.

As soon as these four points are available, the scattering of the ashes can also be carried out on a private property (garden, meadow or similar). This is currently still unique in Germany.

Pro:

  • Funeral in a private setting
  • The wishes of the deceased can be taken into account
  • No grave fees and no grave maintenance costs
  • Deceased person is at home and nearby

Contra:

  • High bureaucratic hurdles
  • Private properties become places of mourning, even after a move
  • Control possibilities of funerals by authorities are decreasing.
  • Problematic when mourners visit, since private property
  • Cemetery loses value in the long run as a place of mourning and remembrance

Natural graves

Nowadays hikers and nature lovers have the opportunity to find their last resting place in a forest. For this there are providers such as Friedwald or Ruheforst. Especially the missing cemetery character and the closeness to nature makes the visit of the burial place easier for many people. For a burial in a forest special urns are needed, which are provided by the respective enterprises.

The burial costs for natural burials in the forest differ in particular in the strength and type of the tree. The location also influences the price. It should be noted that natural graves can be difficult to walk on in the winter months. This can lead to problems, especially for people who are heavily dependent on foot or a wheelchair. This should be taken into account when selecting trees on site.

Pro:

  • Near-natural burial
  • No cemetery character
  • Mention of name on name board

Contra:

  • In winter poor accessibility
  • No grave possible

Anonymous Grave Fields

Due to the reasons mentioned in burial culture, anonymous burials are increasing more and more nowadays. With this type of burial, the urn is buried after cremation in camera. Therefore, relatives cannot be present. With this type of burial also no naming takes place. Usually these graves are put on lawn and meadow surfaces. The maintenance of these areas is usually carried out by the cemetery administration. However, it should be noted that the term anonymous burial is used differently by some municipalities and cemeteries. Some cemeteries even allow you to be present at an anonymous burial during the funeral. However, this would only be a partially anonymous burial. With an anonymous funeral it can come under circumstances to problems with the mourning processing of the next survivors. This should be considered during lifetimes and discussed within the family.

Pro:

  • No grave care
  • Low grave fees
  • No place of pilgrimage.

Contra:

  • No naming at the grave place
  • burial without relatives, resulting in grief problems
  • relatives have no possibility of grave design/care