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Gravestones

How it all began…
This public, non-commercial gravestone project was set up in2007 by a small group of researchers into ancestry and family history. The trigger for this was a report in a daily newspaper about “removed gravestones” from cemeteries where the period of plot occupancy had expired (mostly after 25 years). Relatives of the deceased were sought who would be interested in taking possession of the gravestones. Otherwise the gravestones were broken up and used in the foundations of road construction. It was clear that we, as a group of family researchers, would not be able to keep the original stones. But at least we would be able to save the family details of the deceased on the stones by photographing them. It will be future generations who will learn to value this work once the largest part of the gravestones have been removed from the cemeteries, following the expiry of the plot occupancy. This project will preserve the data and memory of the departed.

Records of our culture
From a cultural and historical aspect, the collection of gravestone pictures is significant. This documentation makes it possible to compare the change of style of these stone monuments. Today’s gravestones are considerably more simple in their form than those from previous times. In large city areas, types of funeral without gravestones dominate (natural/ woodland burial and the scattering of ashes over water or from the air). As a result of this project, a part of our contemporary culture of internment will be archived for future generations. The gravestone project is recognised by genealogists, sociologists and authors of chronicles and local family history. It is also often used by surviving relatives from far and near. We are also aware that, as a result of this project, missing relatives were found again.

Are we allowed to do this?
At the beginning of this project, we sought advice about the legality of publishing pictures of gravestones. When a gravestone is erected it is in the public domain. In addition, the data of deceased persons is not subject to data protection. Nevertheless, out of deference to the next of kin, we have decided to respect the traditional year of mourning. Therefore we do not show photos of gravestones relating to people who have passed away in the current or previous year.

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