The cemetery of Bogenhausen is the dollhouse of Munich´s cemeteries – with only 240 graves. To get there, take tram No. 16 (direction St. Emmeram) and get off at the stop „Sternwartstraße“. From there, it is just a short walk to “Bogenhauser Kirchplatz 1”, which is the cemetery´s official address. A more beautiful alternative is a stroll along the river Isar to Max-Joseph-Bridge. There, the Neuberghauser Straße climbs towards the cemetery.
It is a wonderful idyll which nestles around the church St. Georg. Surrounded only by birdsong and the perfume of blooming trees and flowers, I do a tour through the graveyard. Once, a gardener passes by, but otherwise I visit the well kept graves undisturbed and in a sort of Zen mood. Many celebrities have found their last resting-place here. Actually, the cemetery is said to have been built in the 9th century as a burial ground for the established families of the village Bogenhausen. Only a few decades after the incorporation of Bogenhausen to Munich in 1892, the cemetery became the favourite graveyard of artists and celebrities in Munich.
As if to prove this, I find the tomb of Elisabeth Wellano near the entrance gate. This actress was and is better known under her stage-name „Liesl Karlstadt“ – and as the partner of cabaret artist Karl Valentin.
Who else lies here? Apart from the writers Erich Kästner („Emil and the detectives”), Oskar Maria Graf (“My mother´s life”) and actor Helmut Fischer (“Monaco Franze”) cartoonist Ernst Hürlimann, film producer Bernd Eichinger and actor Walter Sedlmayr are buried here. And director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He was only buried here after heated and lengthy debates – to give a drug-addicted homosexual a grave near St. Georg wasn´t easily accepted in 1982.
So, what do you have to do to get in – apart from being famous?
The criteria are explained on www.muenchen.de:
“The use of a grave can be acquired in case of an actual death. Also, it is required that the desceased had his/her main residence in Bogenhausen during 30 years prior to his/her death without interruption. Or the deceased is a especially well-known celebrity who has distinguished him- or herself in the arts or has rendered special services to the city of Munich. The decision about that lies with the city government. As far as usable burial sites exist at the time of death, the choice of the burial site is free.”
These last two criteria are the bottleneck for getting into this haven of tranquility. According to an article in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in January 2013, only one single grave is still available.
Only one! This will never be enough for all the “especially well-known celebrities who have distinguished themselves in the arts or have rendered special services to the city of Munich.”. The decision about whoever is part of this elite lies with the city government, i.e. ultimately the Mayor of the city of Munich. Rumour has it that he receives an increasing number of promotional calls from hopeful aspirants. But in contrast to gastronomical business practice, advance booking isn´t possible.
Because of this, a little time out while still alive by having a regular stroll around this peaceful place is definitely preferable. And maybe one day, one of the tombs will be released once again.