On 21st May 1881, the Municipal Central Cemetery was formally opened. The City of Berlin purchased these 25 hectares of land, which at that time lay just beyond the city walls, because the inner city cemeteries had reached the limits of their capacity.
For the plan of the cemetery, the Berlin director of city gardens Hermann Machtlg (1837-1909), a pupil of Peter Joseph Leen & took as model the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, opened in 1877, which was designed as a landscape park.
The cemetery in Friedrichfelde was open to people of all confessions and persuasions and from all walks of life. After Wilhelm Lleblutecht (1826-1900) was buried there, Friedrichsfelde became the preferred burial place for leaders of the German Labour Movement.
After Karl Llebknecht (1871-1919). Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), and other victims of the political conflicts of January 1919 were buried in Friedrichfelde, a memorial to the German Communist Party (KPD) and its members was erected in the back part of the cemetery.
This impressive Revolution Monument, which was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, later director of the Bauhaus, was unveiled in 1926 and represented an important example of modern monumental architecture. In 1935, the Nazi regime demolished the monument and levelled the graves. Since 1983, a commemorative stele marks the site.
The Memorial to the Socialists, ceremoniously unveiled in 1951, was initiated by several resolutions passed by the city council.The landscape architects Richard Jenner and Hans Mucke were commissioned to build the monument.
The president of the German Democratic Republic Wilhelm Pleck, exercised considerable influence on the memorial’s design for he reserved the right to make nearly all the decisions.
Today the cemetery covers 32 hectares.
The network of paths, the Memorial to the Socialists, and many of the graves are protected historic monuments.
As it is the final resting place of many important historical personages. Friedrichsfelde Cemetery is both a mirror and record of political events and cultural and intellectual trends of the 20′ century.
The route around the cemetery is a self-guided tour with markers to direct visitors.
The walk begins at the Memorial to the Socialists next to the main entrance, .where a visit to the exhibition on the Memorial’s history is recommended.
Next the route leads behind the Memorial to the Socialists to the family grave of the bankers von Bleichr Oder and the section of the cemetery at Pergolemveg.
Here, state and party officials of the GDR/SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) and members of their families, many prominent figures in science and culture, and participants in the resistance movement against the Nazi regime are buried.
The route continues past the graves of the painter Paul Meyerheim (1842-1915), the writers and married couple Franz Carl Welskopf (1900-1955) and Alex Wedding (1905-1966). the murdered Republican standard-bearer Willi Schneider (1907-1931) In and the astronomer Friedrich Simon Archenhold (1861-1939), to the ceremonial hall.
Behind the ceremonial hall, the route leads past the graves of the family of actors von Wangenhelm/Wintersteln and the family of E. H. Meyer, the columbarium of the Vohsen/von den Steinen families, the memorial of Martin Kirschner (1842-1912), mayor of Berlin ROL Paula Thiede (1870-1919), trade union chairwoman, the publisher Julius Rodenberg (1831-1914), and city councillor and local historian Ernst Friedel (1837-1918) – to the site where the Revolution Monument by Mies van der Rohe once stood.
The route continues past the graves of victims of Fascism and the Nazi regime and the graves of artists. Here lie, amongst others, the graphic artist and sculptress Kathe Koliwitz (1867-1945), the painter Otto Nagel (1894-1967), and the long-time director of the Friedrich-stadtpalast variety theatre Wolfgang E. Struck (1920-1989).
The last section leads past the graves of the Municipal Central Cemetery’s designer Hermann Machtig and the royal gardens director Axel FIntelmann. The walk around the cemetery takes approximately two hours.
It can be shortened by taking the short-cuts that are indicated on the cemetery map.
Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, also known as the Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten (