Saturday, October 20, 2012

East Berlin's Dorotheenstadt Friedhof/Cemetery


Dorotheenstadt Friedhof
East Germany aspired to be a classless society with no division or alienation, and where people were free from the oppression of capitalism. However, in death (and perhaps in life too), prominent East German citizens had a special place in the former communist state.

At the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery in Mitte Berlin, many of East Germany's distinguished citizens are buried. Here, amid the lush grounds, lie the remains of Bertolt Brecht (author and playwright, The Threepenny Opera), Heinrich Mann (author, Professor Unrat, adapted into the film, The Blue Angel), Karl Friedrich Schinkel (architect, the Altes Museum), Arnold Zweig (author), Helene Weigel (wife of Bertolt Brecht and actress), Paul Dessau (composer), and Dietrich and Klaus Bonhoeffer (resistance fighters killed by the Nazi regime). 

Christa Wolf
Grave of Christa Wolf
The cemetery is a relaxing place to escape from the hustle and bustle of midtown Berlin. It's beautifully maintained, and it's never crowded. The day I visited, the friendly groundskeeper gave me an unofficial tour. He also helped me locate the grave of one of my favorite writers, Christa Wolf (Der Geteilte Himmel [The Divided Heaven], Nachdenken Über Christa T. [The Quest for Christa T.], Kassandra).

Ms. Wolf died last December 1, and her grave is still without a headstone. Although devoted to the ideals of the East German state, Ms. Wolf's novels are primarily morality tales that skirted the issue of politics. Her most famous novel Kassandra was a retelling of the battle of Troy while Christa T. dealt with conformity in a modern society. Her books are insightful and moving. 

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