Weissensee Cemetery

On September 9, 1880, the Jewish community ceremoniously reopened its 42-hectare cemetery – a monumental site with representative buildings and an architecturally striking mourning hall. With more than 115,000 graves, it is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe and a culturally historic landmark. Its completely preserved death registry is a unique historical document that tells the story of the development of Berlin’s Jewish community. Martin Riesenburger, who later became rabbi of East Berlin’s Jewish community, survived the Shoah with his wife by hiding in the cemetery. Between 1943 and 1944, he not only buried the Jewish dead there, but also conducted periodic religious services on the grounds. He was also able to rescue many religious ritual objects, including numerous Torah Scrolls and silver ornaments, by hiding them in the cemetery. In addition, it was here, on May 11, 1945, days after the war was over, that he held his first post-war prayer service. Many other Jews had been able to save themselves by hiding within the vast grounds of the cemetery, including inside the burial vault of the chamber music singer Schwarz. Details surrounding the Gestapo’s discovery of this hiding place came to light through a report written by Christoph Hein. He described the Gestapo’s gruesome torture of those whose hiding places were discovered.


Part of the cemetery was set aside as a memorial park with a monumental altar designed by Alexander Beer, where the remains of more than 12,000 German Jewish soldiers who had fought in World War I are buried. More than 100,000 Jewish soldiers fought in that war – they were proportionally over-represented – and many were volunteers. Dedicated in 1927, the memorial was initiated by the National Association of Jewish Combat Soldiers (Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten). In addition, the gravestones of an abandoned Jewish cemetery in the Köpenick district were brought to Weissensee in 1961.

Of particular interest is the grave of Herbert Baum, who became the personification of Jewish resistance against the Nazis in Germany. He was famous for his anti-war writings, his fight against the production quotas that Siemens imposed on Jewish forced labourers, as well as his involvement in the firebombing of the propaganda exhibit “Soviet Paradise” on May 18, 1942. He and most members of his resistance group were captured, sentenced to death and executed by the Nazis.

At the entrance to the cemetery stands a memorial honouring victims of the Holocaust – dedicated to the men, women and children who were murdered in the camps and who have no graves; their ashes were strewn. The first memorial plaque remembering these victims had already been installed in September 1945. On January 27, 1992, an urn containing ashes of victims from the Auschwitz extermination camp was placed in the cemetery during a ceremony marking the 47th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Prominent survivors of this camp, including Heinz Galinski, who later led Berlin’s Jewish community for 43 years, and chief cantor Estrongo Nachama, who had held this position since 1947, attended the ceremony. One section of the cemetery contains approximately 300 urns: Before the full force of the so-called “final solution” got underway, concentration camp administrators sent ashes of victims to their families – cash on delivery.

The poet and former German legislator Stefan Heym, who died in Israel on December 16, 2001, was buried here five days after his death. In November 1994, the senior parliamentarian said that “People expect us to deal with and establish acceptable, socially just conditions… a coalition of reason… This, however, requires a coalition of reasonable people...” (“Die Menschen erwarten, dass wir uns als Wichtigstes with der Herstellung akzeptabler sozial gerechter ... Verhältnisse beschäftigen ... eine Koalition der Vernunft, die eine Koalition der Vernünftigen voraussetzt”).

Donations may be made to the following account:
Bank: Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
Account Number (for transactions between German banks): 314 24 11
Bank Code (for transactions between German banks): 100 205 00

Prominent members of Berlin’s Jewish community buried here:

  • Hermann Cohen, scholar
  • Louis Lewandowski, composer
  • Lesser Ury, painter
  • Adolf Jandorf, KaDeWe (department store) founder
  • Samuel Fischer, publisher
  • Berthold Kempinski, restaurateur and namesake of the hotel chain

Source: "Jüdische Orte in Berlin", Andreas Nachama/Ulrich Eckhardt.  Copyright by Nicolai Verlag

Adress & Contact

Friedhof Weißensee

Herbert-Baum-Str. 45
13088 Berlin
Tel.: (0 30) 92 53 330
Fax: (0 30) 92 37 62 96


Summer: 01.04. – 30.09.

Mon – Thu 7:30 – 17:00

Fri 7:30 – 14:30

Sun 8:00 – 17:00

Winter: 01.10. – 31.03.

Mon – Thu 7:30 – 16:00

Fri 7:30 - 14:30

Sun 8:00 – 16:00

Shabbat (Saturday) and Holidays



Mon - Thu 7:30 - 16:00

Fri 7:30 - 13:00

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