Fancy a children’s birthday party in the shade of a marble angel or sunbathing between gravestones? Munich’s green spaces have become so overrun that joggers, families and students have taken their recreational activities to the city’s cemeteries. But some are shocked by the irreverence.
Dieter Pausch has formed a close connection with the departed over the past 25 years as caretaker of Munich’s eastern graveyard. But the jovial Bavarian’s job also includes taking care of the living.
The cemetery keeper ensures that plots and pathways are clean so the bereaved can lay their loved ones to rest with dignity. Moments like the solemn procession from the funeral parlor to the open grave are planned in exact detail. Pausch knows that these few minutes, though they have become routine for his colleagues and undertakers, are filled with grief for relatives. Before the bell rings and the ceremony begins, he has checked the route through the headstones, removing any potential obstacles, even the gardener’s wheelbarrows.
“It is about our values, how we get along with one another,” Pausch says.