What is direct incineration

Crematorium - selection, procedure and costs

Nowadays most people in Germany choose cremation. The cremation of a corpse is a prerequisite for the subsequent burial in an urn grave in a cemetery, in a columbarium or in the form of a sea burial or a tree burial. Alternative forms of burial (diamond burial, aerial burial) always go hand in hand with the previous cremation.

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Crematoria in Germany - possibilities and costs

There are around 160 crematoria in Germany. Traditionally, the crematoria are run by local authorities or the Senate. Almost every major city has its own crematorium, and urban crematoriums are often very popular because they are centrally located and often offer rooms for a farewell party. The disadvantage is often the high cost of cremation. Since the late 1990s there have also been private crematoriums in all federal states, which compete with the long-established crematoriums with low prices and often faster service. These crematoriums are not infrequently located in the surrounding areas of larger cities.

The costs for the cremation including the 2nd official medical examination are - depending on the crematorium - between € 200 and € 500. A reputable undertaker takes the cost of the crematorium into account in his cost estimate.

How to choose the right crematorium

If cremation is expressly requested by the deceased or relatives, it becomes necessary to choose a crematorium. The deceased is always the property of his relatives, even if an undertaker is hired and the relatives give him power of attorney to carry out the funeral. Therefore, the choice of the crematorium is up to the relatives. Since most undertakers work with at least one crematorium, you usually do not have to make the selection yourself. If there is a contract between a funeral home and a crematorium, the undertaker often receives favorable terms for the cremation.

Who commissions the crematorium?

Each undertaker should determine a crematorium in consultation with the relatives and explain to the relatives which crematorium they have chosen and for what reasons. Criteria for this can be a low price, the short distance or the presence of a funeral hall for a funeral service. Your undertaker can give you all the information about the crematoria in your area. Each crematorium determines whether the cremation has to be commissioned by the undertaker or a relative.

Investigation in the crematorium

Before a deceased can be cremated, an official permit, the so-called "release" is required. This is necessary because the cause of death can no longer be deduced after the burn. Therefore, a second examination of the corpses takes place before the cremation. This takes place in the crematorium by a medical officer or a forensic doctor (except Bavaria). At the second post-mortem examination, the information on the death certificate and the personal details of the deceased are checked for correctness and completeness. Then the body is examined again. If this confirms natural death, they are released for cremation. If there are doubts about a natural cause of death, the doctor must inform the police or the health department. If necessary, they will order an autopsy. The cost share for the 2nd official medical examination is - depending on the district - between 25.00 and 50.00 euros.

Funeral service in the crematorium

Many crematoriums have their own mourning hall or a farewell room and offer relatives at a cremation the opportunity to organize a funeral service or to be present when the coffin is given over to the flames. You can register for the celebration via the undertaker or directly at the crematorium. There are particularly beautiful celebration rooms, for example, in the Berlin Baumschulenweg crematorium, which is known for its special architecture, or in the Munich crematorium at the Ostfriedhof. Here the relatives can say goodbye in a dignified setting with music, flowers and a speech before the cremation takes place.

Procedure in the crematorium

Can I wear my own clothing in the crematorium?

At the second post-mortem examination, the deceased is stripped. Before the cremation, his clothes are usually put on again. If you choose a death gown or “gown” at the undertaker, it is made of cotton. However, relatives often want the deceased to be cremated in their own clothes. Many crematoria also comply with this request. For ecological reasons, it is important to ensure that the clothing is made of natural materials (e.g. cotton). Some crematoriums have such good filter systems that the clothing can be made of any material and photos, cuddly toys or CDs can even be added to the deceased for the cremation.

Can I be sure my loved one's ashes are in the urn?

Yes. The deceased person is identified in the crematorium. Each deceased receives a label with a barcode on delivery, which is stuck to the wooden coffin. A coin-sized firebrick is also enclosed with the coffin, which has a number and the name of the crematorium stamped on it. The stone is made of heat-resistant material. To ensure that the ashes can be assigned to a deceased person, each coffin is cremated individually in a so-called combustion chamber.

The coffin for the cremation

According to the law, cremation may take place no earlier than 48 hours after death. In Germany, cremation is not possible without a wooden coffin. This is done on the one hand for reasons of piety, on the other hand the coffin is needed to quickly reach the temperature necessary for the cremation. The cremation coffin is mostly a simple coffin. It consists of raw wood and must be suitable for cremation. For environmental reasons, an untreated coffin is best suited for the crematorium. If a farewell to the coffin takes place before the cremation, a burial coffin is usually used for aesthetic reasons. This can also be used for cremation. Unnecessary metal handles or fittings are removed and disposed of before cremation.

The cremation

Modern crematoria run on natural gas. The deceased is cremated at a temperature of 900 to 1000 degrees. Depending on the weight of the deceased and the type of wood in the coffin, the cremation takes 1.5 to 2 hours. After the ashes have cooled, they are painted and foreign objects (e.g. metal parts from prostheses) are removed. Together with the firebrick, the ashes are placed in an ash capsule. This is important for a possible reburial, because in this way the remains in the ash capsule can be assigned to the deceased at any time. The urn is sealed for security.

What happens after the burn?

In the ash capsule, the ashes of the deceased are handed over from the crematorium to the cemetery or to the undertaker. In the event of a burial at sea, the crematorium transfers the ashes to the shipping company. For aesthetic reasons, the capsule is often placed in a decorative urn. Urns can be made of different materials, shapes and colors. Undertakers or cemetery accept the ashes and perform the burial, e.g. in a tree grave or in a columbarium. Many crematoria also have cemeteries, so that the ashes reach the burial place in a short distance.