There are parts of this abandoned cemetery in Dessau, Germany where it truly feels like stepping into a horror movie. Fallen tombstones and urns are already spooky, and the creepy reliefs on the stones just add to the dark atmosphere. Then you come across a building that looks like a small chapel. Stepping in, the realization hits: It is an abandoned crematorium.
Most parts of the historic Cemetery III in Dessau are abandoned. The cemetery is divided by a street. The larger western side is a park-like area with plenty of old graves, beautiful monuments, sometimes with quite horrid reliefs and greatly decorated wells all overgrown with ivy. Among others, you’ll find a memorial for the victims of fascism and a memorial for the victims of the BAMAG-Disaster, a 1918 explosion in a workshop at a WWI munitions factory that killed 56 workers, mostly women and young girls.
There are more signs of abandonment in the eastern part of the cemetery. Here many tombstones have fallen over and stone urns lay on the ground. Nature is winning back the place in some areas, though certain monuments are still cared for; there are several monuments for the casualties of both the First and Second World War.
Then, also in the eastern part of the cemetery, you’ll come across a building with a dome roof, protected as a historic monument. This domed structure is an abandoned crematorium, constructed in 1910 and in working order until the late 1980s. It’s believed more than 100,000 bodies were cremated here, many buried in an adjoining urn grave field. The crematorium was later expanded with a new wing, which also stands abandoned today. Inside the older cremation system you’ll see a rotary hub on tracks, and in the newer system, the bone mill and other items can still be found. Urns, number tacks and old paperwork are still here, as are the old telephones and even shoes.
The most famous person who was burned here was the social democrat and anti-fascist Wilhelm Feuerherdt, who was killed in 1932 in Zerbst during a pub fight with a group of Nazis. He died from severe stabbing wounds in the face and the back and was later cremated here. Still the abandoned crematorium has attracted attention purely for its eerie desertion. In 2012 it was visited by a Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter to shoot a film called Irgendwann (Sometimes), a documentary about abandoned and deserted places in the world, the end of humanity, and what we will leave behind.
Know Before You Go
As with all old and decaying buildings it might not be hazard free to visit the crematorium. Walking around in the building should be done very carefully.