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germen ashes scattering law

Bremen is the first state in Germany to allow the scattering of ashes


Bremen, the smallest state in Germany, has voted to allow the scattering of ashes. To be honest I knew the name, but I was not aware where it was – and it is small, really small in fact it is two cities that are separated by the larger state of Lower Saxony.

You might not seem a big deal, well it is. Germany has strict laws on ashes and until now they were only allowed to be placed in an official cemetery and they were must be buried within six weeks under state law.  However Germany is changing and death rites are no exception 2012 saw cremations overtake burials.

This move is seen as a big step and the change has caused a row with opposition Christian Democrats and church figures getting rather hot under the collar. However the State Parliament went ahead and voted to allow a persons ashes to be scattered on private properties.

It is due to come into force next year and there are a number of provisos:

  • the existence of a written statement by the deceased person that his or her ashes should be scattered at a particular location.
  • someone (presumably a funeral director or chaplain?) must also be appointed to supervise the scattering and make sure that it takes place in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
  • the deceased must have lived in Bremen as his or her last place of residence.
  • care must be taken, that none of the ashes blow onto neighbouring properties
  • with a special permit, the ashes may also be scattered in rivers or parks.

The parties that pushed for the change – Social Democrat, Green and Left party believed the strict rules were no longer in accordance with the view of a large segment of society (A survey in 2007 showed that more than 45 percent of Germans wanted their ashes scattered or stored in an urn outside a cemetery)

However Christian Democrats and religious groups believed that such a move would lead to a “privatization” of death and grief and not uphold the dignity of the deceased person.



7 thoughts on “Bremen is the first state in Germany to allow the scattering of ashes

  1. Reply
    Adele Hoegermeyer - 23rd February 2018

    I respectfully ask the following question.

    Could ashes have been held over for burial by the cemetery awaiting the arrival of family from the United States. This happened in 1986. The deceased died on June 13, 1986 and family could not come until July 12, 1986 for the graveside service and internment. Family was told that the state would not allow cremains to be held for US family arrival. Was the the law in 1986? Please respond. Adele Hoegermeyer

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 24th February 2018

      Dear Adele
      I am afraid I don’t know the answer to your question. It does seem entirely unreasonable. I do know that Germany is very strict when comes to ashes, they consider them in law to be the same as a body.
      I am sorry I can’t be more helpful.
      Regards Richard

      1. Reply
        Adele Hoegermeyer - 24th February 2018

        Dear Richard, Thank you for your response. My question is Could the Cremains have been held by the Cemetery in Bremen until the arrival of the son and his wife and grandchildren?

        Is there a way that had the family in Bremen could have requested the ashes be held at the cemetery for a family graveside service? We understand that ashes were not allowed in your home and had to go directly from the funeral parlor to the cemetery. What were the regulations regarding immediate interment of Ashes in 1986? Why couldn’t ashes be held in a secure place at the cemetery for three weeks? Where can I find this information? It is a very important question for our family.
        Regards, Adele

        1. Reply
          Richard Martin - 26th February 2018

          Dear Adele

          Sadly this is way outside my sphere of knowledge. I think that the you will need to go to the source, I would suggest approaching the Archbishopric of Bremen to understand the eleseastic law and practices at that time. It might be also worth approach an English speaking law practise in Germany, I have had a look on Google but all I get is British law firms that will represent you, but I think you would need one preferably in Germany or one from the US.

          I hope you find what you are looking for.

          Kind regards

          1. Adele Hoegermeyer - 26th February 2018

            Richard thank you for your efforts and response. This has been a family debate which we should have approached years ago. Our mother was buried in the big cemetery in Bremen. Do you know of any contacts in that cemetery who could enlighten us. We were told the cemetery. Would not hold the ashes. If you could give me a contact information for that cemetery that would be helpful. I don’t want to pursue this legally. We just want to know the facts of whether the cemetery would hold the ashes for our arrival, that’s all.

          2. Richard Martin - 27th February 2018

            Dear Adele
            I don’t have any contacts and as a non-native speaker I am afraid I am at the limit on my knowledge in this area. I have had a search on your behalf and this link may be what you are after, it appears to have rules etc.

            Best of luck with your endeavours

          3. Adele Hoegermeyer - 28th February 2018

            Richard, thank you for your efforts on my behalf.


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