Many former Dutch cemeteries are hardly used and daily management is often limited or absent. However, the situation varies greatly from country to country. Different rules and a different management style apply in each country. What the cemeteries share is that they are part of our shared heritage.
Re-use and honor.
Where original Dutch cemeteries have remained in use, preservation of old values is not always a priority. A few examples. In Indonesia, several old European cemeteries are under pressure, on the one hand due to population growth in the cities and on the other hand because the government does not simply give permission for the construction of a new cemetery. As a result, many old graves are cleared and reissued. Often the original structure of the cemetery is also lost, but the local population can at least bury there. In contrast with this are the cemeteries and graveyards in the United States. There are still cemeteries to be found where the Dutch colonists and their descendants are buried. Nevertheless, cemeteries here have also disappeared and made way for skyscrapers.
In Japan it is a matter of honor to preserve the place of the dead as best as possible. The Netherlands is still seen more or less as the owner and holder of such a place. Where the Dutch were given a grave in larger cemeteries, such as in Portugal or Turkey, management is in local hands and how the management is done depends on the situation.
Much more often Dutch people are buried in countless cemeteries around the world, often in relation to maritime and commercial activities. The management of those graves depends on local efforts, but many of them have been lost over time. Not because of mismanagement, but because the space was needed for other purposes or because the grave was no longer maintained.
Management and conservation of heritage in general is often a challenge, both in the Netherlands and abroad. This also applies to cemeteries. The method of preserving buildings, funerary monuments and walls differs per country. Not every country has signed conventions and charters on this subject or has the knowledge and expertise. Internationally, for example, the Burra Charter from Australia serves as a guide document. The charter includes agreements on the meaning of cultural values, conservation, preservation, restoration and reconstruction. In Europe, all kinds of charters have been established by ICOMOS and UNESCO, among others. Where there is no lack of knowledge, however, there is often a lack of resources. The challenge is for all of us to think in terms of opportunities and possibilities so that we can continue to tell stories about our shared past.
Management & conservation
Within this part of the Shared Cemeteries website, we want to offer guidance with regard to management and conservation. The articles have been compiled on the basis of experiences and involvement in numerous projects around the world.
Note: every situation is different and no cemetery is the same. The articles are intended for general support. For questions or specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.