The Liberec Crematorium
Cremation used to be frowned upon well into the early days of the 20th Century and had been disapproved of by the Catholic Church. However, during the course of the hygiene movement in the second half of the 19th Century, a number of societies were emanating from Germany who did a great deal to challenge this taboo and push for the construction of new crematoria. The Vienna-based association for the promotion of cremations, »Die Flamme« (The Flame), started a contest in 1913 to construct a crematorium in Liberec (Reichenberg at the time). The plan »Feuerburg« from the Bohemian-born architect Rudolf Bitzan was ranked only third by a special jury, yet won over the members of the association and won the competition. This impressive symmetrical complex includes gardens, covered walks, a waiting room, a chapel of rest and a columbarium. The entrance to the waiting room is flanked by two massive custodian statues by the sculptor Alois Rieber. The first cremation did not take place until one year after its opening, in 1918.