The members of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) are united by their interest in the manifold aspects of sepulchral culture. They are committed to the preservation and care of cultural-historical evidence of the sepulchral culture or work on new design concepts. The cultural values of the association are integrated into the various professional fields of activity and changes are scientifically researched. All our members support the work and the cause of the Study Group Cemetery and Monument and the Museum for Sepulchral Culture financially and ideally.
The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. has over 600 members (as of 2019). Members of the Study Group are local authorities and church communities, professionals in the fields of gravestone design, cemetery gardening, burial, architecture and planning, as well as members of the caring and helping professions, volunteers of the hospice movement and students and scientists, but also interested lay people.
Every natural and legal person with an interest in the research, preservation and development of funeral and cemetery culture is invited to become a member of the Study Group Cemetery and Monument.
The membership fee is 90€ or 130€ for legal persons and 45€ for students.
In the first year from 2020 onwards, the membership fee is free of charge for future applicants.
As a member you receive:
If you are a member and would also like to be mentioned here, please contact us. If you are not yet a member and are interested in becoming one, you will find the declaration of accession above. However, you can contact us at any time.
Telefon: 0721 / 352 94 39
Fax: 0721 / 384 26 64
Every year, an annual conference with a professional focus and the general meeting of the Study Group Cemetery and Monument take place in Kassel.
(The offer is directed exclusively to members of the Study Group)
May 24 and 25, 2019 in Kassel
The grave and its central functions for the people are at the centre of the work of the Study Group Cemetery and Monument, emphasised Managing Director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann at the annual conference on 24 May. Thus the Study Group is also the idealistic sponsor of the project "Healing Farewells".
As new managing director, Dr. Dirk Pörschmann put the work of the association to the test one and a half years ago. In two closed meetings the board of directors worked out new priorities for the next years. The grave and its central functions for the people should be in the centre. In addition, the Study Group wants to focus on the other qualities of a cemetery, especially its secondary functions in the areas of recreation, communication and ecology. In addition, the association is working on updating the permanent exhibition at the Kassel Museum for Sepulchral Culture, which most recently presented pictures and sculptures by the sculptor Stephan Balkenhol. In 2018, 22,000 visitors took advantage of the rich offerings of this unique cultural institution, which is funded by the city, state, federal government and the churches. The journey there is always worthwhile. Director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann informed about last year's exhibitions and the manifold activities of the museum in his activity report.
At the annual conference and general meeting, board elections were scheduled. Matthäus Vogel was confirmed in his office as chairman for the next four years. The deputy positions were newly filled: First deputy is now cemetery planner Dr. Martin Venne. The members elected Dr. Jutta von Zitzewitz, Cultural Officer of the Board of Trustees for German Funeral Culture, as the second deputy chairman. Background: Gustav Treulieb, Federal Guild Master in the Federal Association of German Stonemasons, had resigned from his office in order to make a new appointment possible. The Study Group appointed Wolfgang Thust, who can look back on 200 years of company history, as the third honorary member (after Wolf Spemann and Jörg Bollin). "We have to fight", he said, "but we can make something out of the difficult situation at the cemetery – we just must not give up!" A tribute for the 50 years of membership of the Kunstgießerei Strassacker was received by its managing director Edith Strassacker, among others.
A new concept is the "Forum for living association work", where association members present their current projects. Together with Gerold Eppler, Michael Spengler explained the cinema film "Der Stein zum Leben" (the stone for life), which is shown nationwide. Philipp Baisch introduced the Association for Biodiversity in cemeteries.
Günter Czasny, deputy managing director of the Strassacker art foundry, presented the project "Healing Farewells" under the idealistic sponsorship of the Study Group. Long-term research into problems and the benefits of the cemetery and especially the individual actions possible there at the grave for mourning people will be presented on 25 October at a congress with futurologist Matthias Horx at Maternushaus in Cologne, with broad support from all institutions involved in the cemetery as well as experts from sociology and psychology.
On May 25th, some members took part in a visit to the Mulang cemetery in Kassel and a guided tour of the Unesco World Heritage Site "Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe" with a focus on "architectural mock graves".
Bärbel Holländer is editor-in-chief
of the journal Naturstein
June 8 and 9, 2019 in Kassel
New elections, workshops on megatrends and the inauguration of Dr. Dirk Pörschmann as General Manager of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) and Director of the Central Institute and Museum for Sepulchral Culture were the focus of the annual conference of the Study Group Cemetery and Monument on 8-9 June in Kassel.
The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) has a new managing director and the museum and the Central Institute have a new director. The chairman Matthäus Vogel was pleased about this in his welcoming address and opening of the annual conference of the Study Group in the Museum for Sepulchral Culture. 2017 had been marked by the search for a new management and the participation in the "documenta". The latter had brought the museum 70,000 additional visitors (a total of 93,000) and corresponding additional income. Vogel thanked all of the museum's staff and in particular the provisional managing director and museum director Gerold Eppler for their successful commitment.
We want to be heard
"The first five months in office have shown me that I have taken on new activities that broaden my horizons, challenge my stamina, keep my creativity alive and put my diplomatic skills to the test," Dr. Dirk Pörschmann admitted in his inaugural speech. After the two years of vacancy for the position of Managing Director, he said, many things were put to the test. "The topics of sepulchral culture are so diverse, topical and relevant that it must be a great concern for us to take part in the public discussions in the context of cemetery and monument", said Pörschmann. "We want to be heard, and for this we need the cooperation of all trades and communication with all members," he announced as the result of a closed meeting with the board and the employees of the working group. The great challenges, which lie in the breadth and diversity of the institutions association, museum and central institute, would at the same time contain a great opportunity: "Namely, to discuss in exchange with ALL those who, professionally or privately, economically or ideologically, are concerned with the end of life and its integration into life, and to arrive at a synthesis in the old tradition of thesis and antithesis, which can only arise together. Together we can achieve a better level of knowledge and clearer positions, which will lead to us being heard in public".
Fit for the next 20 years
Dr. Dirk Pörschmann named the renovation of the building, the expansion of the museum's facilities and the restructuring of the presentation of the collection as further major challenges. The house is 26 years old, the permanent exhibition in its current form has already lasted too long, and in many areas the potential of the museum and the topics dealt with is not being fully exploited. "Together with our team, I would like to change this, so that we can make the house fit for the next two decades," he announced. He said it was a central concern of his to "welcome all social classes, all generations, all religions and also all ethnic groups into our house". He saw his task more in shaping than in managing. He will continue to optimize the necessary administrative processes and carry them out conscientiously and quickly, "but I would like to bring my creativity and enthusiasm to bear elsewhere. Namely, where people are concerned and the issues that make it so existential for them to deal with life and death.
Newly elected ... were the deputy chairmen, the treasurer and the assessors. The deputy chairmen Gustav Treulieb and Dr. Martin Venne were confirmed in their offices as well as treasurer Wolfgang Gieße and the assessors Prof. Dr. Norbert Fischer, Edith Strassacker from the Kunstgießerei Ernst Strassacker, Stephan Hadraschek from Otto Berg Funerals, stonemason and stone sculptor Hermann Freymadl and cemetery gardener Holger Geister. New as an observer is the cemetery gardener Janina Janke. Numerous individuals, companies and institutions were honoured for their longstanding membership in the Cemetery and Monument Working Group.
Workshops on megatrends relevant for the cemetery
After the general meeting, four workshops (moderation: Birgit Aurelia Janetzky) dealt with social influences with concrete effects on the development of cemeteries. As megatrends relevant for the association, the board had chosen "population development", "urbanisation", "ecologisation" as well as "digitalisation and internet culture". There were lively discussions in all four workshops, which were led by employees.
The participants agreed that the above-mentioned megatrends are already having a significant impact on the cemetery and that these changes are irreversible. They all agree that the association should accompany the change as a provider of ideas and a pioneer, inform its own network and "round tables" with trades and take away fears by offering advice.
Bärbel Holländer, Editor-in-Chief NATURSTEIN
The magazine Friedhof und Denkmal reports in detail about the meeting in its 2/2018 issue.
The following persons/ companies/ institutions were honoured at the conference for their 25 or 50 years of membership in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument):
Wolfgang Becher, stonemason Helmarshausen, Bad Karlshafen
Friedhelm Krumme, Lüdinghausen
Daniel Wöhler, Bremen
Cemeteries Vienna GmbH, Vienna
Anton Hebensteiner, Munich
Wolf-Dieter Grimm, Munich
Fred Grimm, Volkach
Karl-Heinz Berg, Höxter
Paul Hofmeister, Hofmeister Bestattungen GmbH, Fellbach
Christoph Drescher, run
Wiegand Funerals GmbH, Ilmenau
Burials Dabringhaus in the Thanatorium, Stockelsdorf
Treulieb GmbH, Stuttgart
Cemetery administration of the city of Halberstadt
Friedrich Carl Heimann Society, Cologne
Stichting Nederlands Uitvaartmuseum, Amsterdam
Lentia Marble Natural Stone GmbH, Linz
June 23 and 24, 2017 in Kassel
In 2017 the city of Kassel presented itself with documenta 14, and if we emphasize this aspect, it is because the Museum for Sepulchral Culture itself became a documenta location. The level of awareness of our museum has thus increased enormously.
However, the annual conference in Kassel was primarily used to discuss a repositioning of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) with its members. After questions about values and objectives were again asked at the last general meeting, the key points of a possible repositioning were presented. In workshops the first aspects of the content were critically discussed. Four topics were available for selection. A first summary of the results as well as the opportunity for further discussion were made available in the forum of the Working Group Cemetery and Monument.
The general meeting agreed to continue the work in the workshops at the annual meeting 2018.
June 16 and 17, 2016 at Fürstenried Castle (retreat house), Munich
On June 16th 2016, the members of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) met in Fürstenried Castle, the retreat house of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. In the princely ambience the meeting of the association took a quiet course despite the drastic changes in the office. Matthäus Vogel, as chairman of the Study Group, informed those present about the surprising departure of PD Dr. Werner Tschacher. After his festive inauguration with well-known representatives of the federal government, the state of Hesse, the two churches of Germany and the city of Kassel, Tschacher has already left the varied field of duties of the director of the Museum of Sepulchral Culture and the managing director of the working group. The board of the working group has therefore appointed the author of this article as provisional director of the museum until 2017, when a new decision will be made on the appointment.
Thanks to the clear presentation by treasurer Wolfgang Gieße, the presentation of the annual financial statement 2015 and the preliminary economic plan 2016 did not give rise to any critical questions, and the report of the auditors, presented by Jürgen Rehs, did not give rise to any objections. The members gratefully accepted the offer of Jürgen Rehs and Pastor Dirk Stoll to continue to make themselves available for the office of auditor.
The motions submitted for voting were all accepted by a majority. The general meeting was unanimously prepared to comply with the request of the tax authorities to amend the statutes of the working group in such a way that, for example, the purpose of the association corresponds to the exact wording of the model statutes of the German Fiscal Code. Since the changes affect all associations and affect neither the tasks nor the objectives of the Study Group, the corresponding wording will now be incorporated into the statutes.
Concerning the increase of the membership fees, concerns were expressed. Nevertheless, a large majority considered it necessary to make an adjustment after more than fourteen years of constant amounts. Those interested in membership who, for example, have not yet gained a professional foothold after completing their training or studies, can apply for a reduction on request.
The creeping loss of members also preoccupied those present. Numerous suggestions were made to stop this. A platform that could be used across associations to discuss even conflicting views on developments in the field of sepulchral culture was one of them, as was the suggestion to offer workshops again at members' meetings. It was agreed that these could provide impulses for active participation in the work of the association. Because this also became clear: the need for advice, especially in the cemetery area, is increasing and cannot be met by the staff of the office alone. Contact persons should therefore be sought among the members in order to establish structures for regional association and advisory work. Since such a request can hardly be implemented without appropriate advertising material, the board was also asked to expand press and public relations work and to offer members not only leaflets but also roll-ups, displays and banners for trade fairs and other events.
The first day of the general meeting will end with a presentation on the new Munich Riem cemetery. Dipl.-Ing. Ursula Hochrein, as the responsible landscape planner, personally presented the concept of this cemetery, which is unique in Europe. On the one hand, this conveyed to the audience the complexity of the design task. On the other hand, many subtle design settings were revealed, in which the landscape architects took up the needs of those affected and visitors in order to create an environment that corresponds to the emotional situation of the mourners. Surprising for all experts was the observation that in view of the problems many cemetery owners have with so-called overhanging areas, a 13-hectare cemetery complex was created in Riem between 1998 and 2000. Despite the strong population influx, this cemetery will still have sufficient capacity in decades to come.
This generosity is impressive. Four cemeteries lie – quasi like islands – in a landscape of meagre meadows. They are bordered by gneiss walls in dry construction and are raised by one meter due to the high ground water level. Earth walls block the view of the burial area from the footpaths and cycle paths that cut through the cemetery. Every single cemetery area gets a manageable size due to this lean grass fence. However, because the consistent reduction of design elements and materials is repeated in all departments, even if they are not yet occupied, the entire complex appears as if it has been cast from a single mould and – despite its closed and clearly defined basic structure – remains open for new, future gravesite concepts.
If architectural clarity and almost monastic austerity are characteristic of the Munich Riem Cemetery, then forest and nature are the defining features of the Munich Forest Cemetery. A visit to this complex, designed by Hans Grässel and inaugurated in 1907, was obligatory for the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. on the second day of the general meeting. For it was here that the cemetery reform movement began. To this day, a part of the self-conception that constitutes the identity of the association can still be experienced here.
At exactly 10:30 am the city cemetery guide Klaus Harder welcomed the group at the old entrance gate. Starting from Hans Grässel's grave of honour, Klaus Harder led the excursion participants to the oldest grave of the Waldfriedhof to explain Grässel's design idea together with Dagmar Kuhle and the author. The criteria of craftsmanship, homeland reference and religiousness had to be reflected in the design of the gravestones. At the same time, the atmospheric atmosphere of the forest was to be preserved by prescribing stone materials that quickly set moss and lichen. The reference to these restrictions regarding the materials to be used in the Waldfriedhof provided the keyword for the natural stone expert, Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Grimm, who examined and catalogued the monument stones of all Munich cemeteries. He spontaneously explained once again the special nature of the Waldfriedhof, which is evident in the selection of certain types of rock and gives the complex a special character.
Now the Waldfriedhof is already due to its size anything but manageable. For almost three hours the guides led the group on winding paths through the forest. They passed chapels, family graves, monuments and tomb monuments for writers, artists, circus directors and brewers. Again and again, sculptures were discovered that one would expect in museums but not in a cemetery. Areas with dense tree population alternated with clearings on which the regionally typical wooden crosses and wrought-iron grave signs were grouped together.
But not only the old cemetery area offered the excursion participants a picturesque backdrop. Also in the new cemetery part one had sufficient opportunity to enjoy nature. The spaciousness and the play with landscape elements were impressive. The Waldfriedhof München is probably the only cemetery in Germany that can afford nature reserves, which are then also not occupied by graves. At the edge of the protected areas there are also new types of graves, such as reduced-maintenance communal graves, anonymous grave fields and tree graves. Here the children's grave fields certainly represent a special feature, as they are designed as communal facilities, in whose structures motifs such as spiral or butterfly are depicted. The colourfulness of these cemeteries then formed the final point of the hike. When leaving at Fürstenried Castle, it was clear in retrospect that although Munich Riem and the Waldfriedhof were outstanding examples in the German cemetery landscape, it was also clear that there were many more cemetery cultural features to be discovered in Munich alone. Maybe it will be possible to fulfill the wish to get to know the diversity of the sepulchral culture better by means of special examples and to experience it directly and immediately on site in the near future. Study trips would provide the appropriate framework for this. An opportunity to discuss this topic will be offered next year in Kassel. The general meeting will then take place during documenta 14 on 23 and 24 June 2017 at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.
Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur
Museum für Sepulkralkultur
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0