Dark Dealings with Gold Teeth


"German crematorium harvesting gold teeth from customer corpses. . ."

An investigation of crematorium employees in Hamburg accused of harvesting gold teeth and jewelry from customer corpses has uncovered a sensitive topic that the majority of German morticians refuse to address publicly, undertakers' newspaper Bestatterzeitung reported Friday.

In late August, police raided the offices and homes of nine workers from the northern port city's Öjendorf cemetery crematorium, seizing some €146,000 that was allegedly earned through systematically sifting valuable items out of people's ashes and selling them.

The cemetery told daily Hamburger Abendblatt that when family members don't claim such things, their workers gather the precious metals and sell them each month, donating the proceeds to help children with cancer. But over the last several years, cemetery managers noticed that the amount had been greatly reduced and informed the police.

The suspects have since been suspended by their employer, Hamburger Friedhöfe AöR.

According to Bestatterzeitung, the scandal highlights what it called the funeral industry's "dark dealings" with gold teeth after cremation.

Is it worth it to finance the crematorium boss' winter ski trip to Davos, or are propriety and legal regulations in the foreground?"

According to the paper, there are some 400,000 cremations each year in Germany, in what it called a highly competitive market.

The paper surveyed some 80 crematoriums throughout the country to find out how they handled gold teeth and other precious metals belonging to the deceased, but only six replied. Of the respondents, three said they left the items in the urns, and one said it donated the proceeds of these materials to social causes.

But not all crematoriums feel obligated to do this. One insider said many include proceeds of these items in their budgets, and sometimes give kickbacks to funeral homes. Or. . .the items are treated like bonuses for crematorium bosses.

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