If you search the internet for Cemeteries at Hallesches Tor, you will find blog posts about this cemetery, and some of them mention an encounter with a friendly middle aged man.
Saying a greeting led to a polite exchange, which in turn led to a conversation about the cemetery in general, which in turn led to an in-depth discussion of many specific graves.
This is another one of these blog posts. I, too, met this person, and received the best history lesson I had in my entire life.
For instance, I learned about the strange markings on many graves that look like gun shot holes. They are from gun shots, inflicted in one of the many utterly senseless battles of the Second Word War, when the Nazis forced teenage boys to confront the Soviet army, with only a handful of ammunition and no hope but death.
Or about the bunker that the Nazis build on this cemetery after making room by eliminating all traces of the Jewish graves, a bunker that was never used as it filled instantly with ground water, a bunker that has resisted demolition ever since, a bunker that couldn’t be more meaningless.
Or about the grave of Archduke Leopold Ferdinand of Austria, one of the last hopes of the Austrian Monarchy after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, one of the escalations that led to the First World War, but who happily renounced his title in order to marry the sex worker Wilhelmine Adamovicz. His grave (together with this third wife Clara Hedwig Pawlowski) is reportedly still visited yearly by mourning monarchists.
Other visitors commemorate E.T.A. Hoffmann’s death by following his request not to bring flowers but champagne…
And of course there are graves of mathematicians, like the one of the immortal Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi, and less famous ones, like the one of Horst Kirchmeier, whose brave attempts to liberalize the German law governing sexual offenses went rather far.
I could continue my history lesson for a while. Or write about the symbolic of the cast iron fences.
Or about the massive thefts of tomb decorations that apparently sell world wide for enormous sums. Or what happened to the churches to which this cemetery belonged, and what buildings are there now… Another day.
Entering Beaver Creek Wilderness from the Three Forks of Beaver Trailhead has the advantage that you get a view of the area before descending into the gloomy valley.
Signs are rare, trail markings sparse, and the trail itself often unrecognizable. The very humid landscape is subject to continuous transformation due to intense growth and decay, so I was initially grateful to be able to hang on to the rocks.
How does one esthetically tame a feral landscape like this? Instead of imposing structure, one approach is to embrace the wild complexity, and let it overwhelm.
Once you reach the valley bottom, you can follow Middle Ridge Trail along Beaver Creek upstream or downstream; the former offers better campsites (I think).
Hiking downstream has more rock formations, if you desire so.
Then, strangely, a rather wide wooden bridge: For what traffic?
After a while one gets used to the constant slipping in mud, tripping over roots, and breaking off rotten wood when attempting to prevent a fall.
One begins to look away from the rocks and to accept that the transformative power of this place, water, offers reflection, too.