Mun Sa Tempel
The cemetery at Hallesches Tor can be traced back to a paupers’ cemetery in
1735. In terms of its cultural history, it has become the most significant
burial site in West Berlin.
Among the most beautiful works of art are the heads of two women by the
Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) sculptor Ignatz Taschner. They decorate the
gravestones of the landscape painter Karl Wilhelm Bennewitz von Loefen and
his wife, who can be found on the left when coming from the Zossener Straße
entrance, on the inside corner of Baruther Straße in an area separated from
the rest by tall family graves.
On the painter’s gravestone, the marble relief of a woman’s head has been
carved in the style of a medallion, with long, curly hair held back by a
band. Emy Bennewitz von Loefen’s gravestone displays a girl’s head,
half-hidden and half-emerging, whose calm beauty is captivating. A few steps
away is a gold-rimmed, black, cast-iron cross dedicated to Henriette Herz;
and just beyond the square, next to her husband’s grave, is that of Rahel
Varnhagen. Both women were baptised Jewish and were important figures of the
Berlin Salon in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The graves of the composer, Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, his
sister Fanny Hensel, his parents and other family members are to be found
only a few steps further, to the left of the main path from the Zossener
Straße entrance, shortly before the central wall. The flower shop at the
main Mehringdamm entrance has a photocopied map of the cemetery for sale,
showing a total of twenty-two famous graves, among them the poets E.T.A.
Hoffmann and Adelbert von Chamisso, and the architects David Gilly and Georg
Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff.