Intangible Cultural Heritage Cemetery Culture in Germany Intangible Cultural Heritage Cemetery Culture in Germany
Intangible Cultural Heritage Cemetery Culture in Germany
© Initiative Kulturerbe Friedhof




The "cemetery culture in Germany" concerns two major topics: On the one hand, it is about how we deal with our dead, and thus also with our ancestors and ancestors. Here, the cemetery has developed over centuries in our culture as a central framework for action. One can therefore also say that cemetery culture is above all about what people do in the cemetery.

This concerns the rituals and traditions in connection with coping with grief and remembering with dignity, but also the skills and abilities in connection with the crafts and professions of the cemetery: from undertaker and grief counsellors to cemetery gardeners and stonemasons to cemetery planners and administrators. In doing so, the view is not backward-looking, but the UNESCO heritage explicitly refers to the living expressions of the cemetery culture in our country.   

On the other hand, the focus is on the importance of cemetery culture for our society. For our collective self-image it is significant in several ways, for example from a cultural, historical or social point of view. Our cemetery culture is an integral part of our living environment, our villages and towns. It is an integral part of our society and thus also of our national identity.   

What is special about our cemetery culture worldwide is that we embed the graves in park landscapes and design them as small gardens of memory. But also the way we live our mourning rituals - for example with our songs or in our obituaries - distinguishes us from the cemetery cultures of other countries.

With the inclusion in the nationwide list of the intangible heritage of UNESCO, the Federal Republic of Germany recognizes the worthiness of protection of our cemetery culture. This is threatened by the increasing number of alternative burials outside the cemetery as a cultural area, but also by municipal efforts to close cemeteries and use the land in a different way.

(This text is an extract from the website of the Initiative Kulturerbe Friedhof)


For further information visit


Board of trustees intangible heritage cemetery culture founded!

Despite the difficult conditions caused by the pandemic, it has now been possible to establish a Board of Trustees which will act as an official partner of the German UNESCO Commission for the care, preservation and further development of this intangible cultural heritage. Under the name of "Kuratorium Immaterielles Erbe Friedhofskultur" (Board of Trustees Intangible Heritage Cemetery Culture), it will in future take care of this heritage as a non-profit association especially in the sense of UNESCO.


facebook youtube instagram

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.

Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur

Museum für Sepulkralkultur

Weinbergstraße 25–27
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Kassel Documenta Stadt
Deutsche Bischofskonferenz