It’s enough to make the dead turn in their graves.
A discount food store sits on what once was part of the St. Simeon and St. Lukas cemetery in the Berlin district of Neukölln. A public parking lot lies on the New St. Marien and St. Nikolai cemetery in Prenzlauer Berg, while next to it an apartment house looms over the former entrance of the same graveyard.
Almost 40 acres of former burial sites have been converted to other uses in Berlin in recent years. These delicate conversions are taking place in several Berlin districts including Neukölln, Reinickendorf, Pankow and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
The maths are dead simple. Churches need cash and Berlin needs space.
Berlin currently has a surplus of cemetery real estate but not enough housing as new residents flock to the city. Burials are down as more people opt for cremation, while others prefer to be interred in idyllic countryside spots. The city’s Senate sees the conversion of cemeteries into building sites as a legitimate public interest.