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)
October 15th to17th, 2021 in Dresden
The Working Group Cemetery and Monument (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.) held its annual meeting in Dresden for a special occasion. While the members elected a new board, executive director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann described the change towards a virtual culture business.
For this year's annual meeting, the Working Group (ARGE) had chosen a special venue for this year's annual meeting. Thus the ARGE invited its members from 15th to 17th October not as usual to Kassel, but to Dresden. The background for the change of location was that the Reichsausschuss für Friedhof und Denkmal (Reich Committee for Cemetery and Monument) had been founded in the Saxon state capital exactly 100 years ago in the course of the cemetery and monument reform.
The three-day event kicked off with the general meeting in the time-honored Lukaskirche. Martin Venne, deputy chairman of the ARGE, first commemorated the deceased members, including Wolfgang Thust. On October 12, the highly esteemed master stonemason from Balduinstein had passed away. Thust was in 2019 as only third person the honor to be honorary member of the ARGE. Accordingly, Venne paid tribute to the services of the entrepreneur: "Wolfgang Thust worked tirelessly for the preservation of cemetery culture until the end of his life. The board appreciated and continues to appreciate Wolfgang Thust's commitment beyond measure."
ARGE Managing Director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann reviewed the activities in the past fiscal year 2020. As expected, cultural work was extremely challenging for ARGE due to the Corona crisis. For example, Pörschmann spoke of the fact that as a result of the first lockdown in March 2020, the Kassel Museum for Sepulchral Culture lacked the basis for its activities. After the institution was still able to enjoy around 25,000 visitors in 2019, the number collapsed to around 8,000 due to Corona.
However, instead of resigning themselves to the difficult situation, they quickly recognized the many possibilities offered by digital communication channels. In the meantime, virtual events are just as much a part of the daily routine as museum tours conducted via online stream, Pörschmann explained: "The virtual museum has now firmly established itself alongside the real one."
In some ways, ARGE's offerings, because of their engagement with death, have even benefited from the Corona crisis, he said. "The topic of dying has been very present in the media since the start of the pandemic, as a result of which some of our exhibitions have received exceptionally high press coverage," the managing director summed up. This was especially true for the special exhibition "Zernetzung" by artist Macro Di Carlo in the summer of 2020, but also applies to the current exhibition "Suizid – Let's talk about it!" which runs until February.
Meanwhile, as 2021 is already drawing to a close, Pörschmann further marshaled the current state of the cultural industry. Although Corona continues to be the dominant topic, he now sees light at the end of the tunnel. For example, he said, things are currently looking up noticeably, which means that a positive development is clearly discernible despite the difficult start to the year. "To get back to pre-Corona levels, however, we probably need another two to three years." ARGE Chairman Matthäus Vogel expressly congratulated Pörschmann and his team for the solid economic figures they were able to achieve despite the more difficult general conditions.
Into the future with a proven team
In accordance with the ARGE association statutes, all board members with the exception of the chairman were newly elected this time. In contrast to the other board members, the chairman is elected every four years instead of three. In terms of personnel, there were no changes in the course of the election. First Martin Venne as 1. deputy chairman, Edith Strassacker as 2. deputy chairman and Wolfgang Gieße as treasurer stood for re-election. All three were confirmed according to bird with overwhelming majority in their offices. The picture was similarly clear for the board's assessors. Prof. Dr. Norbert Fischer, Stephan Hadraschek, Hermann Freymadl, Janis Janke, Holger Geister and Dr. Simon Walter also received the confidence of the members present with a large majority.
Finally, the vote on the Cemetery Culture Charter provided ample material for discussion. The charter was formulated in cooperation with the Kuratorium Immaterielles Erbe Friedhofskultur and other industry associations. In Dresden, the ARGE members were now called upon to make comments and additions to the previous draft. In principle, the charter is intended to send out a clear, strong and, above all, positive signal for cemetery culture. Based on this basic attitude, it should make clear why cemetery culture is so important for our society. Ultimately, it is intended as an instrument to bundle the many-voiced chorus of those who dedicate themselves to the broad field of cemetery culture and to place it on a common basis, as Pörschmann summarized.
In addition to fine-tuning individual formulations, one of the issues discussed was the extent to which the initiators enter into certain obligations by signing the charter. Here the unanimous tenor was "no", at least with regard to real conditions. If at all, moral obligations were primarily associated with the charter. Rather, it is intended to give cemetery culture a framework for social discussion and to help it gain more visibility in the public eye. The question of its scope was also clarified. According to this, the charter refers solely to Germany in accordance with UNESCO, which has also granted the status of intangible cultural heritage to German cemetery culture alone. The collected comments now serve to further concretize the draft charter. The official signing is scheduled for November 18 of this year. This discussion marked the end of the general meeting, which this year was not only held in a new location, but also later than ever before. In 2022, the ARGE will return to its usual rhythm with a date in the first half of the calendar year. The planned date is May 20, 2022, at Kassel's Museumfor Sepulchral Culture.
Filip Lachmann is a trained journalist. After working in corporate communications and PR, he freelances as an editor and photographer for various trade magazines.
On October 15, 1921, the "Reich Committee for Cemetery and Monument" – was founded in Dresden. Thirty years later followed the association "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V." The association took this date and this place as an opportunity to hold this year's general meeting in Dresden and to organize a symposium with contributions mainly on the history of cemetery reform in the European context, as a basis for a critical discussion.
Guided tours of the Tolkewitz Urn Grove and the New Annen Cemetery
After the end of the annual conference, there were informative and entertaining guided tours of the Tolkewitz Urn Grove with Professor Jan-Michael Lange and Martin Kaden, Natural History Collections Dresden, as well as Jens Börner, Head of the Department of Municipal Cemeteries and Burial Services Dresden. In the evening the Literaturtheater Dresden with Annette Richter, Herbert Fischer and Christian Mögel invited to an imaginative walk through the cemetery with a special view on Russian burial customs.
Lara Schink, cemetery administrator of the Annenfriedhöfe Dresden, led a tour of the approximately 14-hectare Evangelical Lutheran New Annen Cemetery in the Löbtau district. At least one cemetery with additional design regulations formed a bridge to the symposium topic of the previous day. In this section, compliance with the regulations is to be given greater consideration again in the future for design reasons. However, communal graves were presented as the currently most popular grave design. The entrance area of the cemetery, designed as a park in 1875 by Robert Wimmer, a student of Gottfried Semper, is formed by a monumental camposanto architecture. There are still a lot of historical grave grids in the cemetery, for which, in addition to the problem of their preservation, the problem of frequent material disuse was discussed. Lara Schink pointed out that existing memorial sites are extended by users to become memorial sites for other memorial occasions, which is a practical example of cemetery users redesigning the cemetery according to their needs. Furthermore, the participants were introduced to a cemetery border that had been purposefully opened for extensification and it was explained that its overgrown appearance is interpreted by the administration as an enchanted area. The western cemetery area, called "Peace and Hope", is part of the federal project Green Urban Lab II, according to Lara Schink's report. In the course of which, she said, the question of where the boundaries of a conversion to a park lie should be explored. On the one hand, such a conversion to a park would contribute to an enhancement of the district, on the other hand, the compatibility with regard to the core functions of the cemetery had to be examined. Already since 2018, a cemetery development plan for the entire cemetery had envisaged a conversion to a park. In this context, there are also plans to possibly convert a building at the edge of the cemetery into a café. In addition, the participants could see that a fenced-off part of the cemetery is given to the "Gartennetzwerk Dresden" for use as a kitchen garden. In many places of the tour, summarized Dirk Pörschmann with thanks to Lara Schink, the participants had shown networks between the cemetery and the city of Dresden, which are basically positive.
Dr. Dagmar Kuhle
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