Approximately 62.000 Munich citizens have been buried here – the last one about 75 years ago.
Maybe that’s why the Old Northern Cemetery nowadays reminds more of a park than a graveyard. Joggers and playing children are common to be seen (the children mostly because of the playground inside the cemetery’s walls) and it is explicitly allowed to sit or lay down on blankets between the graves.
When the cemetery was built nobody thought it would become that popular one day. In 1869 it was rather feared that it would negatively affect the quality of the ground water and wells and lead to depopulation.
Luckily, those fears proved wrong – but still, not everybody appreciated the Old Northern Cemetery. Hitler had plans to demolish it for a connection road between Luisen- and Isabellastraße and to also use a part of the area for his retirement home. Thus, in 1939 the graveyard was closed for further burials.
WW II solved the question of the connection road and “saved” the cemetery, but not without heavy damages. The graveyard was not opened again and especially in the 50s – when the idea of the connection road sprung up again – damaged and neglected graves were demolished.
Against all odds the cemetery survived until today. Although most of the 800 remaining graves do not have a gravestone, some interesting graves are still to be found:
For example the one of Wilhelm Bauer, who built the first submarine and shot the first submarine shot in lake Starnberg.
Or Hermann Lingg’s. He had been financially supported by king Max II in order to pursue his poetic and historic works. His poem “Das Krokodil zu Singapur“ (The crocodile at Singapore) gave his name to Munich’s poets circle “Die Krokodile”.
One of the 19th century most famous prima ballerinas is also buried here, Lucile Grahn-Young.
And lyricist and joker August Gemming, a Munich original. He bet that he could ride naked through Munich’s streets without facing any problems – an he won, with a uniform painted all over his body.
The sculptor Michael Wagmüller created his own funerary sculpture. For it’s design he was awarded with the cross of the French Legion of Honour during the world exhibition 1878.
Life and death are close at the Old Northern Cemetery: at the grounds of the former funeral parlour a children’s playground has been built. But please keep in mind: Birthday parties at the cemetery are not allowed – for those events you can rent the adjacent building of the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers’ Welfare Association).