The Invalidenfriedhof is the cemetery associated with the military in Germany. It is situated right in the centre of Berlin, just north-east of the Central Railway Station.
It is regarded as a memorial to the German liberation war between 1813 and 1815 – and as a testimony of Prussian and German military history.
Many famous figures from German military history were laid to rest here, underneath often flamboyant headstones and sculptures.
Destruction towards the end of the Second World War and in the Communist East German period when the graveyard was part of the Berlin Wall – led to the desecration of some areas.
In fact, on the 2.54 hectare site only about 230 graves were preserved, but since 1992, a the preservation and restoration of the site and some tombs has been undertaken.
Among the most famous soldiers who died in the Second World War and were buried here are the former commander-in-chief of the army, Generaloberst Werner von Fritsch (1880-1939), the commander of the Kampfgeschwader 77, Generalmajor of the Luftwaffe Wolff von Stutterheim (1893-1940).
Also, the Commander-in-Chief of the 18th Infantry Division, Lieutenant-General Friedrich-Carl Cranz (1886-1941), the Naval Commander-in-Chief of the West of France, Vice-Admiral Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière (1886-1941), the General Commander-in-Chief Walter von Reichenau (1884-1941) as well as Lieutenant of the Luftwaffe Hans Fuss (1920-1942).
Their grave sites have been preserved.
The site of Hitler’s chief adjutant, Generalleutnant Rudolf Schmundt (1896-1944), who died as a result of his injuries sustained in the assassination attempt of July 20, 1944, is marked by a restitution stone.
In 1942 two leading representatives of the Nazi regime were buried at the Invalidsfriedhof.
Fritz Todt, the Reich Minister for Armament and Ammunition died in February in a plane crash near Hitler’s leader headquarters “Wolfsschanze”.
The head of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt and commissioner for the execution of the Holocaust, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, succumbed to the assassination of Czech resistance fighters in Prague in early June.
The historian Laurenz Demps reckons that “the burial of Heydrich, whose mortal remains were not removed, is a particularly heavy burden”, for Invalidsfriedhof.
His grave site is no longer marked, but a new headstone for Todt has recently appeared.
In the last days of the war, the Invalidsfriedhof was caught in the crossfire. Damage occurred at many grave sites, some of which are still to be observed today, such as on the back wall of the Stülerschen grave monument for Friedrich Wilhelm von Rauch and graves in Field A.
In a mass grave, 31 dead were buried, presumably civilian victims of the war who had died at local hospitals.