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Posts tagged ‘cemetery’

My Vienna: the Biedermeier St. Marx Cemetery

Above/featured: Spring morning at Vienna’s Biedermeier cemetery.

In Vienna’s 3rd district, the St. Marx cemetery is the only surviving Biedermeier cemetery in the city. A visit now is a jump into the frozen past. The cemetery opened with its first burial in 1784. Closure of the city’s multiple neighbourhood cemeteries began in 1873 with the final burial at St. Marx taking place in 1874. Subsequent funerary functions were transferred to the newly constructed Zentralfriedhof located farther out from the city centre. The very leafy avenues and “leafy gate” are what’s left of the city’s only remaining 18th-century cemetery that’s now open to the public as a city-administered park.

Why Biedermeier

Biedermeier in Vienna corresponds to a cultural period during the first half of the 19th-century marked by increased industrialization in rapidly urbanized areas and strict censorship with the elimination of dissenting political voices. Instead of looking outward to change, the artist and design community moved to safer spaces in nature or to their homes. While innovation might have given way to a modest yet graceful and functional style, Biedermeier architecture in its neoclassical spin provided inspiration for subsequent Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) and Secession movements. An important Viennese architect of the period was Josef Kornhäusel who designed many buildings in the city. Important music from this period was composed by, for example, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Schumann. One of the largest collections of Viennese Biedermeier art is in the Belvedere’s collection. St. Marx cemetery is a reflection of both city and age from the 19th-century.

St. Marxer Friedhof, St. Marx cemetery, Biedermeier cemetery, 3. Bezirk, Landstrasse, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Cemetery’s main gate – 20 May 2022.

St. Marxer Friedhof, St. Marx cemetery, Biedermeier cemetery, 3. Bezirk, Landstrasse, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com
St. Marxer Friedhof, St. Marx cemetery, Biedermeier cemetery, 3. Bezirk, Landstrasse, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Information stone with visiting hours by month. Photo, 20 May 2022.


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My Prague: looking for Kafka & Palach in Olšany

Above/featured: A quiet leafy avenue in Prague’s Olšany Cemetery.

I can’t spend all this time in the Czech capital city, and leave without paying any respects to two 20th-century personalities of Prague. Franz Kafka was an early 20th-century German-Czech writer (e.g., 1912 Die Verwandlung/Metamorphosis), whose writings became known to the world posthumously, thanks to friend and fellow writer Max Brod. In the 1960s, Jan Palach was an important historical figure of opposition who died in protest against the Communist regime.

I’m in the underground metro, heading east from the city centre towards Vinohrady and beyond to Olšany. The sun’s out on a crisp mid-autumn day, and while deciduous trees are left wanting for leaves, the latter have piled like carpets of colour on the cemetery grounds. I’m looking for the graves of Palach and Kafka who are buried in Olšanské hřbitovy (Olšany Cemetery) and Nový židovský hřbitov (New Jewish Cemetery), respectively.


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My Seattle: Bruce & Brandon Lee, father & son

Honouring the surname

In the mid- to late-1970s, our parents took us to single-screen movie theatres with names like Olympia, Golden Harvest, and Shaw for cinema night to watch movies made in Hong Kong. There were dramas; some high on the melodrama and low on character. Some were historic-period pieces, and there were kung-fu movies for which Dad passed his love to me.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a kung-fu action sequence on a big screen. I was mesmerized the first time I laid eyes on a memorable fight scene set in Rome’s Colosseum, that epic scene observed by little stone dragons between “Little Dragon” himself, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris’ character in the 1972 film “The Way of the Dragon“. As a kid, I was proud to have had the same surname as this Bruce fellow, and memories of seeing his on-screen characters prevailing in fights have stuck over time (e.g., “Boards don’t hit back.”)

Tragically, Bruce and his son, Brandon, died too young. I’m certain when I was a teen that I asked where Bruce Lee was buried; my parents didn’t know and in pre-internet days, it was more of a challenge to find those answers. But the mystery has long been solved: Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon, lay side by side in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Despite multiple visits to the city in years past, this particular return trip to Seattle has been decades in the making for a chance to honour a part of my childhood and a part of my heritage. When I find the Lees, my arrival means another answer has been quietly realized. On a crisp bright autumn morning under blue skies, I feel my father’s spirit with me; he never had the chance to come to this cemetery. My lips move without voice, a prayer I utter into the ether, pushing for hope to reach him. Because I know now that this, is also for my Dad.


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Friedhof Hietzing, Hietzing Cemetery, Friedhoefe Wien, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: Hietzing Cemetery

Previously, I provided short biographies for artist Gustav Klimt, artist and designer Koloman Moser, and architect Otto Wagner, and why they are important figures to the arts and culture scene in early 20th-century Vienna. These three figures are buried in Hietzing Cemetery in the 13th district of Hietzing at the city’s western periphery.

Located to the southwest of the former imperial summer residence Schönbrunner Schlosspark, Hietzing Cemetery is modest in size with an area of over 9.7 hectares (24 acres) and containing over 11-thousand graves. With the present site inaugurated in 1787, the cemetery has seen several expansion phases and survived damage from the Second World War.

Below, I highlight the final resting places for Franz Grillparzer, Hans Hollein, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Strauss women, and Otto Wagner.

Friedhof Hietzing, Hietzing Cemetery, Friedhoefe Wien, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

2018 was the 100th anniversary of the deaths of Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), Koloman Moser (1868–1918), and Otto Wagner (1841–1918). Photo, 16 May 2018.

13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Friedhof Hietzing, Hietzing Cemetery, Friedhoefe Wien, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Inside the front entrance – 15 May 2022.

Friedhof Hietzing, Hietzing Cemetery, Friedhoefe Wien, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Visitors to the cemetery can look northwest to see the glowing golden dome of Otto Wagner’s Steinhof Church at a distance of 4 km (2.5 mi). Photo, 16 May 2018.


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My Vienna: Zentralfriedhof (central cemetery)

Above/featured: The cemetery’s Gate 2 (2. Tor) designed by Max Hegele, who was Otto Wagner’s student and also responsible for the construction of the Fillgraderstiege steps in Mariahilf.

Where: Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof).
Who: Beethoven, Boltzmann, Falco, Lamarr, Schütte-Lihotzky, Strauss I and II.
Why: Cross-section of cultural and economic history for capital city and nation.

In Vienna, tram 71 begins in the Old Town; goes around the western half of the inner ring past City Hall, national Parliament, and the Opera House; and heads southeast to the city’s main cemetery or the Zentralfriedhof. Because coffins to the cemetery were once transported on the tram, there’s a saying particular to the city’s residents, a phrase which means they’ve died by “going to the end of the line.”

Sie haben den 71er genommen.
(“They took the 71.”)

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Worms: Holy Sand, Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery

I’m looking for a “thousand-year history” in the city of Worms located in southwest Germany. This has nothing to do helminthology or nematology, as the town’s name is derived from “Warmaisa”, the former Jewish name of the city. This is about an important part of Jewish-German history and peaceful coexistence of the Judeo-Christian communities within Europe. The town’s fame and reputation is also partly derived from Martin Luther; I’ve already visited the site where Luther was on trial to answer charges of heresy, as well as the world’s largest Reformation monument.

This part of the Rhein river area is considered the “cradle of European Jewry”, known also as “little Jerusalem on the Rhine.” In medieval times, flourishing Jewish communities in the cathedral cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz facilitated the creation of a common Jewish league with the name ShUM (SchUM), spelled out by the first letters of the Hebrew names for the three cities. As emphasis on the influence of Jewish heritage in Europe and the ongoing process of preservation and education, the Holy Sand cemetery is one of four constituents in the newly inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site (2021).

On a breezy late-autumn afternoon, light fades quick, casting solemn shadows on this ground. In the town’s old Jewish cemetery, I’m the only person present, and I’ve placed a small stone on top of a number of gravestones. I’m surrounded by apparitions over an millennium’s age and by the remaining physical traces in various shapes, stones, and size.

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Ludwig Boltzmann, Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Vienna Central Cemetery, Vienna, Wien, Austria, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: Ludwig Boltzmann in spring

I’m neither tragic nor hip, but I know a little bit about Canadian icon and band, The Tragically Hip, and specifically, a song of theirs called “Springtime in Vienna.”

I can’t play a musical instrument, but I especially liked listening to a performance of Johann Strauss II’s “An der schönen blauen Donau” (The Blue Danube) on an intercity river catamaran between Vienna and Bratislava.

What I’m totally convinced is when spring comes calling, I’m allergic to nature. I’m a living example to irritation and inflammation, and living consequence to nature’s response to spring.

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Erwin Schroedinger, Annemarie Schroedinger, Alpbach Cemetery, Heiliger Oswald, Pfarrkirche Alpbach, Alpbach, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, fotoeins.com

Alpbach, Austria: finding Erwin Schrödinger

Localizing his final wavefunction in Alpbach.

It took a little effort: a train out from Innsbruck to Brixlegg, followed by a regional bus into another valley of countless valleys, accompanied by the illumination of sharp morning light, in a blanket of meadows and buttercups, under a deep ocean of impossibly blue skies. And on both sides of this river valley are an endless series of mountains, these peaks the smaller cousins to larger Austrian Alps nearby.

In Alpbach, the weekday morning is quiet, as the town begins to stir with people starting their work day. The bank has just opened, fresh baked bread and pastry and roasted coffee emanate from the cafe from around the corner, a couple of trucks rumble into town with deliveries. An older couple walks by, and there are mutual sunny greets of “Grüss Gott”. The church steeple glows yellow at this hour, and it’s easy to imagine with its bell the church is an aural and visual beacon for miles.

I’m drawn to the church because that was always the plan, to look for someone who’s buried in the church cemetery. Ordered rows of headstones lie as you would expect, but by the northwest gate, I find a single plaque on the bordering stone wall. The plaque reads: “Erwin Schrödinger, Nobelpreis für Physik, 1933”, and next to the plaque is Erwin and Annemarie Schrödinger’s final resting spot%. Another academic pilgrimage completed.

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IHolocaustdenkmal, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: observations from Germany

Primo Levi, Italian-Jewish author, chemist, and Auschwitz survivor, delivered a set of essays about life and survival in Nazi extermination camps in his 1986 book “The Drowned and the Saved”. Levi wrote:

… For us to speak with the young becomes even more difficult. We see it as a duty and, at the same time, as a risk: the risk of appearing anachronistic, of not being listened to. We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experiences, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental, unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It took place in the teeth of all forecasts; it happened in Europe; incredibly, it happened that an entire civilized people, just issued from the fervid cultural flowering of Weimar, followed a buffoon whose figure today inspires laughter, and yet Adolf Hitler was obeyed and his praises were sung right up to the catastrophe. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.

On 27 January 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in south-central Poland. Over 1 million men, women, and children were murdered.

The United Nations declared January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day; the designation came during the 42nd plenary session of the United Stations when resolution 60/7 was passed on 1 November 2005.

Accepting and openly stating responsibility are critical first steps, but spending time, money, and effort to ensure the simple motto of “never again” is also an ongoing reality that isn’t solely up to the citizens of Germany. It’s a collective responsibility that we all should have to remain vigilant; that we all have to recognize and bolster actions which encourage and strengthen the universality of human rights, and reject the erosion and withdrawal of those rights.

I believe responsible tourism also includes paying appropriate respect at a memorial, especially the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. It’s my view this important memorial is not (supposed to be) a playground.

And yet, there’s something to be said about what it means to have freedom in the early 21st-century, allowing people to laugh and frolic in the public space, an undulating sculpture of featureless massive grey cement blocks, a testimonial to the systematic murder of millions of people.

Naturally, you have the freedom to play here, take selfies, and have a grand time. But it doesn’t mean I’m gonna laugh with you; for example: Yolocaust art project (DW 2017).


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Nobel-Rondell, Nobel Rondel, Nobel Prize, Stadtfriedhof, Göttingen, Niedersachsen, Lower Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Göttingen: a circle of Nobel Prize winning scientists

What: Circular feature celebrating Nobel Prize winners, all of whom worked at the city’s university.
Where: Stadtfriedhof (city cemetery) in Göttingen.

Göttingen is a university town in central Germany. Not only will I find a memorial to Nobel Prizes, I’m here also to acknowledge my academic training. I spent many years studying physics and astronomy, and while I’m no longer active in science research, I enjoy the search and discovery of the final resting spots for scientists whose work formed a significant part of my education. Visiting their graves provides direct historical connection to “academic predecessors”; to go beyond the abstraction of simply learning their names and contributions to science, the gravestones belong to real people with keen minds, family lives, and all too human imperfections.

45 Nobel Prize laureates have been or are connected with the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen as of posting (2018). That’s a phenomenal number, as this single institution accounts for 8 per cent of all Nobel Prizes (585 as of 2017).


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