72 years ago the World War II ended. One of the last major offensives of the Second World War in Europe was the »Battle of Berlin« from April to early May 1945, which ended with the unconditional surrender of Berlin. The war came back to Germany from where it had started. The struggle for the capital did cost countless lives of soldiers and civilians.
In the Berlin city landscape there are still traces of the violent death of these people. At around 220 burial grounds there are many individual tombs and mass graves, where the dead of the World War II as well as victims of the Nazi tyranny are buried. More than 136,000 dead – many of whom are unknown – are found at Berlin cemeteries, civilians, forced laborers, victims from concentration camps, resistance fighters, victims of so-called “euthanasia” and soldiers of different nationalities.
Neukölln combines all the characteristics of the metropolis Berlin – also as a necropolis – in a cultural, religious and social diversity. In Neukölln alone there are 16 cemeteries.
At the Columbiadamm, at Hermannstraße, Buschkrugallee and Lilienthalstraße, about 15,000 individual graves and mass graves on an area of 1,600 square meters can be found. Mass graves with deaths of the war as well as victims of the Nazi tyranny – an urban shift in the midst of the daily life. This layer resembles an ancient necropolis – but above the ground. Although most burial places are open to the public, very few are part of the general perception, e.g. as a classic park cemetery or as prominent tourist attractions. The majority of these victims of war and dictatorship therefore remain invisible, regardless of origin, age, role, destiny.
» 1945. It starts with a photo. The task of keeping this important figure on a simple black-and-white photograph seems simple, at first glance. Quickly done, rushing to a war grave in between two lectures. But then it hits you. The number. The numbers. The masses. 1945, 1945 and 1945. Personal, impersonal – anonymous. Unprepared. I calculate. 26 years, the human who is buried here has become as old as I am now. Many that I find here did not even reach that age. The innumerable war graves that I have previously passed blindly. Berlin, the necropolis. Taking the pictures makes me very thoughtful. It sharpens my consciousness. look at the streets, the buildings, the trees, today’s Berlin, which I know. I am grateful. 1945. That was the end. «
V.J., Master student, Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Berlin