Gelsenkirchen cemeteries: they will change so much

Cemeteries are changing – and it’s not just about burial culture. This is what the resting places of the future will look like, these trends exist.

They are places of sorrow, peace and quiet, sometimes of relaxation and perhaps even hope: the cemeteries of Gelsenkirchen. Besides that, the city’s resting places are also an economic factor on the other hand. But it is precisely there, in the cemeteries, that a certain upheaval is happening right now and has been for several years. There are changes in the funeral and cemetery culture, in the demands placed on the last place – and then there is also the demographic change.

Gelsenkirchen cemeteries: they will change so much in the future

“Due to the decline in population and the migration to other funeral services, the number of burials in the city’s cemeteries has decreased continuously over the years,” reports Gelsendienste spokesman Tobias Heyne when asked by WAZ. In addition, there is the ongoing trend towards urn burials: “Each year the ratio changes by one to two percent from burial to cremation and was 44 to 56 percent by the end of 2021,” continues Tobias Heyne. However, he qualifies that the proportion of coffin burials in the municipal cemeteries is still quite large compared to other municipalities. In Bochum, for example, the proportion of coffin burials is less than 25 percent.

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The trend towards the urn is also confirmed by the current figures from this year: At the end of September, there were 1,530 burials in the municipal cemeteries – almost as many as in the same period last year. Per On September 30, 2022, the ratio of burial to cremation was 42 to 58 percent.

“Revenue from cemetery and burial fees was around 4.95 million euros last year,” the Gelsendienst spokesman said. In Gelsendienste’s work committee, operations manager Daniel Paulus called the cemeteries “one of our biggest losers”. The reason for this: “In the cemetery area, we have higher costs than we earn from fees and other income. In 2021, the shortfall in this area was -867,046.48 euros,’ Tobias Heyne breaks down. Overall, Gelsendienste achieved an operating profit of exactly EUR 827,053.50 last year with a total turnover of around EUR 101 million.

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The evolution away from casket burial to urn burial is one thing, another indicator of change can be seen at this time: in the cemeteries maintained by mosquito services, more and more former burial grounds are no longer needed for burials. Years ago, they started “targetedly reducing the areas and concentrating burials in the so-called core areas of the individual cemeteries,” says Tobias Heyne. Due to the 25-year rest period, however, it is a longer process.

The forecast: In 2039, only about 45 percent of the current cemetery space will be needed for burials. The value goes back to the cemetery development plan created in 2016. It goes without saying that these changes also affect the use of funeral rooms, farewell rooms or cold storage rooms. According to Tobias Heyne, a concept for the future management of the building is currently being drawn up.

Gelsenkirchen is one of the NRW municipalities with a relatively high proportion of cemeteries in the total area. Tobias Heyne knows that this is mainly due to “the fact that some of the municipal cemeteries, some of which have existed for more than 100 years, were laid out as spacious areas with a park-like feel and a large population of trees. They are therefore a significant part of Gelsenkirchen’s green areas.” In addition to their purpose as places of rest and worship, they, like the other green areas, were to serve for local recreation, to improve the urban climate and as biotopes for animals and plants. On the other hand, many other cemeteries, especially those run by denominational bodies, are mainly aimed at funeral services.

According to current statistics from IT.NRW, the total area of ​​all cemeteries in the city is 173 hectares, of which the area of ​​municipal resting places is 147 hectares. In addition to the municipal cemeteries, there are nine other cemeteries belonging to the Christian churches and one cemetery belonging to the Jewish community.

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