Cemeteries are supposed to be the quietest places on earth. But that notion may soon have to be laid to rest: Exhumation experts are currently conducting large-scale digging operations in German graveyards, belying the very concept of eternal peace.Corpses are no longer decaying in many German cemeteries. Instead, the deceased become waxen, an uncanny process that has become so rampant it can no longer be ignored.
A high moisture content in the subsoil combined with low temperatures and a lack of oxygen are the main culprits. These conditions transform the soft tissue of many bodies not into humus, but rather “a gray-white, paste-like, soft mass,” says soil expert Rainer Horn from the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel, Germany.
As time passes, the remains of the departed coagulate to form “a hard, durable substance.” When knocked with a spade, the wax-like bodies sound hollow.