The Memorial to the Socialists (1951), Friedrichsfelde Friedhof.
The Central Obelisk states,”The Dead Remind Us.” It is surrounded by 10 graves commemorating East Germany’s foremost socialist leaders,
including Wilhelm Pieck and Walter Ulbricht.

On Monday, Germany marks the 60th anniversary of the June 17, 1953 uprising in East Germany when thousands of people took the streets against the Communist government demanding transparency, free elections, and reunification. The uprising was quickly quashed leaving scores of people dead and injured. The uprising would mark the first time an eastern block country would unsuccessfully try to wrestle control from the Soviet Union. Hungary would do so in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Poland in 1980. Not until 1989 would East Germany realize freedom. 

The Memorial states,
“What has passed will not return again,
but it left brilliant lights.” 

On the eve of this important anniversary, I paid a visit to the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde), also known as the Memorial to the Socialists. Tucked away in the borough of Lichtenberg, not far from where I live, the Friedrichsfelde cemetery is a lovely and almost deserted place. Away from the sights and sounds of the big city, it’s just you, the trees, and the lush foliage.

Unlike the Dorotheenstadt Friedhof, where many of East Germany’s artistic and cultural elite are buried, Friedrichsfelde was reserved for East German leaders and activists. For example, this is the final resting place for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg (co-founders of the German Communist Party), Walter Ulbricht (East Germany’s ruthless leader), Käthe Kollwitz (pacifist and artist), and Klaus Fuchs (physicist and atomic spy). 

A No Nonsense Socialist Headstone

This quiet and bucolic space is the perfect escape from the summer heat, and a good place to learn a little history.