Information on the Feriköy cemetery - Mr Stier: The cultural Attaché, German Consulate, Taksim, Istanbul, 1999

Unfortunately only a limited number of documents on the Feriköy cemetery are preserved in the archives of the former German Embassy in Constantinople (now the consulate in Istanbul). The reports of the embassy indicate that the transfer of the cemetery grounds was mainly a friendly gesture of the sultan to the Prussian king. The documents still available today are particularly concentrating on a major report intended for governmental use and dated 19-Oct-1858, which had been written by Ludwig V. Wildenbruch, the Prussian envoy to Constantinople. The notes summarise in detail the events preceding the property gift, leading to the statute. The documents comprise ‘Noten der Pforte’, dated 12-3-1853, 2-7-1855 and 29-4-1857, which confirm the donation of the property. Furthermore they contain an extract from a report dated 12-10-1857 which informed the government of the actual release of the property. On those very grounds the cemetery was founded and jointly administered by the Protestant missions.

 Note: It seems likely this act led the way for the clearance of the Christian cemeteries around Taksim, allowing the spread of the city from Pera. The head-stones aligned along the perimeter wall are all transfers from these former cemeteries. It is also probable the neighbouring Catholic cemetery was roughly contemporaneous and it is clear in those days this area was out of town. The present name for the quarter attests to its Levantine past, as it was the land on which the French Levantine Ferry family had a farm, (köy means village).

The 1857 sultan’s decree is non-existing, not even in the Prussian secret federal archives in Berlin. Its regretful absence was already discovered during a meeting of the administrative council on 24-10-1924.
The ancient cemetery regulations and a few amendments to the statute dating from a later time do however exist. According to the statutes the Prussian mission was the first to administer the cemetery in 1858. It designated Mr Pischon, the mission preacher, as superintendent/inspector and Mr Contius, a junior barrister assigned to the mission, as treasurer. At the end of their first year in office both presented a detailed management report.

Since then the administrative duties were subject to a rotative system. Records, financial documents and funds were transmitted on an annual basis among the countries concerned (Britain, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Hungary and U.S.). In the following years the missions’ preacher regularly held the position of superintendent/inspector. The procedure obviously went of smoothly until the outbreak of World War I. During the years of war Germany headed the administration, during the following occupation Great Britain. In 1924 the annual rotation was reintroduced until 1927 when the Dutch Consul General retained the administration with a greater or lesser silent approval of all parties concerned.

 Note: This was possibly the time when the map of the cemetery was produced, annotated in the lingua franca of the time French, and still retained in the Dutch consulate. Tentative surname links to Buca cemetery families, are discernable in the handwriting, Ede, Wilkinson and Hanson.

Currently the rotation system operates on a biannual basis, with the American board acting as executors for the American Consul.

 Note: The cemetery recently (1999) received a substantial donation following the death of an American resident, Ms Emma ‘Charlie’ Ehermann. Under the terms of the will, the cemetery received a facelift and the American board were controllers of the funds. However one of the terms, the marking of all burials, was not undertaken as the cemetery contains close to 1000 tombs but 5000 burials, as many plots were reused. The Board is currently performing the laborious task of compiling a database listing, from a variety of sources (chiefly Berlin). Further details on this cemetery, the benefactor and the compiler's, Brian Johnson's, observations click here.

The German merchant presence was never substantial and currently much altered. However the community supports ministers both in the Protestant and Catholic creeds. The German Protestant church is in the unlikely location outside old Pera, in the rundown neighbourhood of Kasımpaşa. According to the (former - 2000) Evangelical pastor, Fr Gruber, 11 of the old families help with the stipend. There is also a local German Roman Catholic congregation.

1- For a photo views of the Ferikoy Protestant cemetery, click here.
2 - A private researcher, Barbara Dobbins, (background) compiled a listing in the 80s of the burials in the American section of this cemetery, details of which can be viewed here:
3- The German archeaological institute is still very much active in Turkey, and their library next to the consulate is open to the public, and one of the best sources of historic information in Turkey.
4- A site dedicated to a prominent mathematician from Smyrna who moved to Germany, Alexander Dinghas and an article on the late (1997) German emigree in Istanbul, Traugott Fuchs, buried in the Protestant cemetery. More on the history of the German political exiles in Turkey can be read in the culture magazine Cornucopia issue 22.

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