Who has patience, can walk through the rows and pay the green rectangles. After just a few meters, it’s clear that there are an astonishing number of them. Uwe plomitzer from the cemetery administration knows the exact number: 161 graves are currently vacant in the old cemetery in kitzingen. Like many other cities, kitzingen needs to think about how to deal with this "vacancy" to be dealt with.
There are 1411 graves in the old cemetery, which was laid out in 1542 and extended several times until 1889. Impressive tombs and even graves commemorate people who played a significant role in the development of the town. Well-known business families, brewery owners, composers and mayors are buried there.
"It’s kitzingen’s town history that you read here", says franz bohm. He has been chairman of the old cemetery interest group since may. It was founded after the war with the aim of restoring the severely damaged cemetery until the town could operate it itself again. More than 60 years later, this goal has long since been achieved. Nevertheless, the cemetery is still close to the heart of the community of interest – and so the many empty graves are also an issue for the 240-member paying association.
A little more than 20 years ago, there was not a single free grave in the old cemetery, uwe plomitzer remembers vividly. The deceased were therefore buried in the new cemetery. Bohm considers the cemetery opposite the falterturm to be ideal, especially for the burghers from the settlement, since it is not as far away as the new cemetery at the other end of the city.
But even though there are now more than 160 free graves in the old cemetery, they are not easy to fill – due to several factors reasons. One is the long layover in department I, i.E., directly behind the main entrance to the historic cemetery complex, where there is a huge vacancy, according to plomitzer. 30 years is the resting period there, in the remaining area of the old cemetery it is 20 years. Many people no longer wanted their relatives to have to tend a grave for three decades. The empty graves in departments II and III were accepted earlier, says plomitzer.
Another reason is given by city gardener johannes lindner: in this area of the old cemetery, one can only be "simply deep" bury. This means that two coffins cannot be placed on top of each other in one grave. Those who want to be buried with their spouse will have to buy a double grave. In other friedhofen, so-called double-deep graves are possible.
The third reason is of course the most serious: the trend is more and more towards the urn grave. "This year, two-thirds of all burials were urn burials", says uwe plomitzer. Lindner cites some of the reasons why more and more people are choosing this type of burial: smaller graves, lower costs and, above all, less maintenance.
The city has been trying to counteract the increasing vacancy for several years in order to revive the old cemetery. After all, it is close to the city, has a historical park character and is also a meeting place for people. For example, empty graves lying next to each other in department I were redesigned into an urn garden. Instead of rough tombstones, small plaques will refer to the deceased, and the city will take care of the urn garden.
"We try to combine the graves", says lindner. The areas that become free could then be made park-like, with a bench, or possibly even a tree. But the city gardener was also very satisfied if every grave that became vacant could be filled again.
Despite all the necessary redesigning, the focus should continue to be on the historical aspects; after all, according to lindner, the cemetery hides "real treasures. If graves with important monuments are abandoned, they do not necessarily have to disappear, provided that their owners agree. "We take care of it", says the city gardener. For example, it is planned to leave a rough graphite stone where the next urn garden will be built. According to uwe plomitzer, a list of the gravestones worth preserving is currently being drawn up. However, it has not yet been decided how this will be done.