The graves of the famous deceased from the German-speaking countries have long been one of my favorite subjects. Over the years, my wife and I have enjoyed touring the many cemeteries across Europe where these late personalities rest in peace.
It is important to point out that many of these interesting people are not buried in the country of their birth. Karl Marx is a good example. The famous father of communism was born in the German city of Trier, but you’ll find his final resting place in London (see photo), where he spent his last years in exile.
Another exile example is Sigmund Freud, born in Austrian Moravia (now in the Czech Republic), but also buried in London. (Well, it’s more accurate to say his ashes rest in London, since he was cremated and his urn is in a columbarium.)
In our case, my wife and I visited both Freud and Marx in reverse: first the graves in London, and several years later Freud’s house in Vienna and Marx’ birthplace in Trier. (See the photo on the Karl Marx Bio page.)
More recently, in September 2016, we paid a visit (several in fact) to Frankfurt’s Hauptfriedhof (Main Cemetery) to pay our respects to several noted people buried there and in the neighboring Old Jewish Cemetery. On another day we also took the S-Bahn (commuter rail) line to Wiesbaden, about half an hour west of Frankfurt. There in the beautiful Südfriedhof (South Cemetery) we found the Richthofen family plot where the World War I flying ace Baron von Richthofen (the Red Baron) lies in peace – after being interred three times before that! (See Famous Graves Part 2.)
Another recent cemetery adventure took place in Mexico in October 2015. The US Olympic champion Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984) was born in Austria-Hungary, in what is today Romania. He later became Tarzan on the silver screen. His grave is in Acapulco, Mexico. Do you know why? You can learn more about that and his Austrian/German connections in Tarzan in Acapulco.
If you think it’s odd to tour graveyards, you are missing an interesting cultural experience. Most cemeteries are pleasant, park-like places where you can follow in the footsteps of history while relaxing in a quiet garden. I have been doing “graveyard tours” for many years and I recommend it highly.
Where are they buried?
Below is a guide to people buried in Germany. In most of the entries below, we use the German word for cemetery (der Friedhof, FREED-hohf). If you want to learn more about the lives and careers of the people listed below, please see our Notable People pages.
COMING: GRAVES IN AUSTRIA and GRAVES IN SWITZERLAND
Also see: Death: The German Way of Death and Funerals – Customs, laws and regulations related to funerals, burial and cremation, including info for expats in Germany.
Famous People Buried in Germany
Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915)
The German physician Alois Alzheimer discovered the brain disease named for him. Also see our brief Alzheimer bio.
Frankfurt am Main: Hauptfriedhof (Main Cemetery), Eckenheimer Landstraße 194; Location: Gewann a.d. Mauer, 44.
Herb Andress (1935-2004)
Austrian-born film actor who appeared in American movies and TV series (Combat, My Favorite Martian). Munich: Nordfriedhof.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Composer and organist. Leipzig: Thomaskirche (Saint Thomas’ Church), in front of altar. (See bio.)
Willy Brandt (1913-1992)
Politician (mayor of Berlin, chancellor of West Germany) and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Berlin: Waldfriedhof Potsdamer Chaussee.
Horst Buchholz (1933-2003)
Film actor (One, Two, Three, The Magnificent Seven). Berlin: Waldfriedhof Heerstraße.
Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-1899)
Chemist. Best known for his Bunsen burner. Heidelberg: Bergfriedhof.
Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)
Artist, author, humorist (Max und Moritz).
Seesen (am Harz): Friedhof Mechtshausen.
C.W. Ceram (Karl Wilhelm Marek, 1915-1972)
Ceram was the pen name of the German journalist and author Karl Wilhelm Marek, who wrote popular books about archaeology – after creating propaganda for the Nazi regime, the main reason he changed his name by reversing the spelling of his surname and changing the k to a c. His best known work is Götter, Gräber und Gelehrte (1949), published in English as Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology, and later translated into 27 other languages.
Hamburg: Ohlsdorfer Friedhof
Charlemagne (Karl der Große, 742-814)
Holy Roman Emperor (800-814).
Aachen: Shrine in Aachen Cathedral.
|Special Graves and Monuments in Frankfurt
The American Children’s Cemetery (Amerikanisches Kinderfeld) in Frankfurt’s Main Cemetery (Hauptfriedhof) was originally established by the United States military in 1952 for the burial of stillborn babies or deceased infants of the more than 12,000 US military and their families based at the European headquarters in Frankfurt. Because the graves were reused/rotated after 10 years, the oldest grave today dates back to 1966. The last burial took place in 1986, following the reduction or removal of US military personnel in the Frankfurt area. Over the years the American Children’s Cemetery became overgrown and untended until volunteers began to care for the 177 marked graves in the Kinderfeld and its large memorial headstone. Today the Kinderfeld is a permanent section in the Main Cemetery and is maintained in part by the Frankfurt cemetery. Location: Gewann XIV. – Similar American children’s cemeteries are also located in Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden.
Not far from the Children’s Cemetery you’ll find the LS (Luftschiff) Hindenburg Memorial designed by sculptor Carl Stock and dedicated to the 36 passengers and crew who perished in the Lakehurst, New Jersey zeppelin disaster on May 6, 1937. Seven victims from Frankfurt are buried there. That last voyage of the airship (Luftschiff) Hindenburg (LZ 129) originated in Frankfurt. Location: Gewann XIV, between the Westlicher Ringweg and the Wirtschaftsweg
William (Wilhelm) Dieterle (1893-1972)
Film director, actor. Hollywood work: Madame DuBarry, Juarez, Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Elephant Walk.
Hohenbrunn (Bavaria): Friedhof Hohenbrunn.
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992)
Film actress (The Blue Angel, 1930). Her Hollywood work includes: Morocco, Shanghai Express, Destry Rides Again, A Foreign Affair, Rancho Notorious, Witness for the Prosecution. Dietrich died in Paris, where she spent the last decade of her life. More…
Berlin: Städtischer Friedhof III (Friedenau), Berlin-Schöneberg, Stubenrauchstraße 43-45. The grave of German fashion photographer Helmut Newton (1902-2004) is in this same cemetery.
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Painter, artist famous for his drawings, paintings, woodcuts and etchings, including “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Born in Nuremberg on May 21, 1471, Dürer also died there on April 6, 1528. See Mini bio.
Nuremburg: Sankt Johannisfriedhof (St. Johannis Cemetery)
Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915)
Bacteriologist, physician and drug researcher who developed the first serum (Salvarsan) to treat syphilis. Ehrlich also did important work in blood research. He won the 1908 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute that he founded still exists today. The Warner Bros. biopic Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1940), starring Edward G. Robinson and directed by William Dieterle, tells the story of his life and work.
Frankfurt am Main: Alter Jüdischer Friedhof (Old Jewish Cemetery), Rat-Beil-Straße. A framed, glass-enclosed map near the entrance shows the location of Ehrlich’s grave. (See map photo in Part 2).
- Death: The German Way of Death and Funerals – Customs, laws and regulations related to funerals, burial and cremation, including info for expats in Germany.
- Mini Bios A-Z – Brief biographies of people from the German-speaking world
- Notable People from Austria, Germany and Switzerland
- Germans in Hollywood – More bios
- Notable Women from Austria, Germany, Switzerland
- Featured Biographies of notable Austrians, Germans and Swiss