Today, for the first time, during a bike tour we were able to enter Bogotá's Cementerio Alemán, the German Cemetery.
|Cemetery administrator Gonzalo.|
Gonzalo, who administers the German Cemetery, told us that it opened in 1912 and is still active. It contains about 500 tombs and has capacity for another 500.
|'Rest in Peace'|
German immigrants played important roles in exploration, aviation, jewelry, manufacturing and business, amongst other areas, administrator Gonzalo said. In fact, Colombia's first airline - and one of the first in the world - was the Colombian-German Air Transport Society, founded in 1919. The company eventually evolved into Avianca, today Colombia's largest airline.
|Leon de Greiff, poet|
|Antonio Navarro Wolff, ex-guerrilla, and now a|
top official of Bogotá.
German immigrants have also played important roles in the fabrics, coffee and banking businesses.
Colombia's most famous German immigrant is probably Leo Siegfried Kopp, a German Jew who founded the Bavaria Beer Company and has become a popular saint in Bogotá's Central Cemetery.
But Carlos Lehder, an associate of Pablo Escobar in the Medellin Cartel, was also of German descent.
|Asking for a favor |
at the tomb of
Leo Kopp in the
|This headstone carries a cross, |
but the name sounds Jewish.
Returning to the cemetery, like the British Cemetery, the German Cemetery is a peaceful, green oasis in the heart of the city. Not all those buried there are from Germany, or even of German descent. We saw headstones with Polish surnames and at least one apparently Jewish-German name. (On the other hand, the Central Cemetery contains many German surnames.) Perhaps those buried in the German cemetery are Protestants, since the tombs' style is much more plain and austere. Or, maybe those buried there simply felt more affinity for their German heritage.
Related posts: A Glimpse of Historical Tragedy , Shoah Remembrence in Bogotá, Colombia in World War II , Karl Buchholz, Bookseller, Did a Great Colombia Hide a Nazi Past?, The Sinking of the Resolute
See also: Germans in Latin America (Spanish).
Enrique Biermann, a professor at Bogotá's National University, has written a book about Germans in Colombia: Distant and Distinct: German Immigrants in Colombia.
|An angel on a tomb.|
|Friede (Peace); The entrance to Bogotá's German Cemetery.|
|The pair of hammers mean the man was a geologist.|
|A coat of arms on a headstone.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours