Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Berlin

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The Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery (German: Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde), also known as the Memorial to the Socialists (German: Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten), is a cemetery in the borough of Lichtenberg in Berlin. When the cemetery was founded in 1881 it was called the Freidrichsfelde Municipal Cemetery Berlin (German: Berliner Gemeindefriedhof Friedrichsfelde). In 1919, with the burial of Wilhelm Liebknecht, founder of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the cemetery became the resting place for many of the leaders and activists of Germany's social democratic, socialist and communist movements. In 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, co-founders of the Communist Party of Germany, were buried there. The division of Berlin following the Second World War caused the cemetery to be within the borders of East Berlin, where it was used to bury East German (GDR) leaders, such as Walter Ulbricht and Wilhelm Pieck, the first President of the GDR.

Architect and future Bauhaus director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed in 1926 a 12 m (39 ft) wide and 6 m (20 ft) high red brick Monument to the Revolution which the national socialists destroyed in 1935. This was replaced in 1951 by the present memorial, the "Memorial to the Socialists". This consists of a central porphyry stele or obelisk with the words Die Toten mahnen uns (The dead remind us) surrounded by a semi-circular wall into which are set gravestones and urns. Surrounding the central stone are 10 graves commemorating foremost socialist leaders, namely: Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Ernst Thälmann, Wilhelm Pieck, Walter Ulbricht, Franz Mehring, John Schehr, Rudolf Breitscheid, Franz Künstler (politician), and Otto Grotewohl.

On one part of the surrounding wall is a set of large tablets recording the names of 327 men and women who gave their lives in the cause of fighting Fascism between 1933 and 1945. Included in the list are Hans Coppi, Hilde Coppi, Heinrich Koenen, Arvid Harnack, Harro Schulze-Boysen, John Sieg, and Ilse Stöbe.
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Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde Reviews

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  • A place of remembrance for the socialists of Germany. It was originally the cemetary for the poor and its role changed to that of Socialist remembrance. A whos who through the 20th Century, Rosa...  more »
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  • The Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde (Friedrichsfelde Cemetery) became known as the Memorial to the Socialists after the Soviet takeover of East Berlin. Located in the eastern district of Lichtenber, it was situated just beyond Karl-Marx-Allee, the one-time showcase street of East Germany, only a few blocks from the former headquarters of the East German state security police, the Stasi. When the co-founder of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Wilhelm Liebknecht, was laid to rest here in 1900 in a show of working class solidarity, the funeral procession numbered more than 100,000 people and stretched through the heart of Berlin. Liebknecht was a close personal friend of Karl Marx and had overseen the growth of the SPD from an outlawed group of revolutionary firebrands to the largest political party in Germany. Liebknecht’s son, Karl, co-founder of the German Communist Party, was interred here in 1919, following his death at the hands of right wing paramilitaries. His burial at Friedrichsfelde marked the beginning of a socialist-communist right of passage. In 1926, architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe unveiled a “Monument to the Revolution” at the cemetery, dedicated to the communists who had died in the revolutionary fighting that followed the end of World War I. The Nazis demolished it in 1935, and the present monument to socialists, came up in 1951. The central obelisk of the current memorial, bearing the words “Die Toten mahnen uns”(The dead remind us), is surrounded by a semi-circular wall containing gravestones bearing the names of old communists and East German Politburo members. The names of 327 men and women who died fighting fascism are etched on tablets. Ten graves directly surround the central obelisk and bear the most prominent names, including Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, founders of the Communist Party, and Walter Ulbricht, the leader of East Germany. In the expanse of the cemetery beyond the main socialist memorial, you will find the graves of other notable left-wing figures, including the artist and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz. East German film director Konrad Wolf is here along with his brother Markus, the head of East Germany’s foreign intelligence service.
  • Starting with Wilhelm Liebknecht (Karl's dad), numerous well-deserved comrades (!) are buried here. Both social democrats and communists. Pay attention to the tombs of the OdF! And go all the way to the northern end, where the monument to Rosa and Charles was once located. Regardless of this, the visit is worthwhile just because of the beautiful park cemetery.
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