The Volkovo Cemetery (also spelled Wolkowo and Volkovskoe cemetery), is one of the largest and oldest non- Orthodox cemeteries in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Until the early 20th century it was one of the main burial grounds for Lutheran Germans in Russia. It is estimated that over 100,000 people have been buried at this cemetery since 1773.
Between late 1771 and 1772, Catherine the Great, empress of the Russian empire, issued an edict which decreed that, from that point on, any person who died (regardless of his social standing or class origins), no longer had the right to be buried within church crypts or adjacent churchyards. New cemeteries had to be built across the entire Russian empire and from then on they all had to be located outside city limits.
One of the main motivations behind these measures was overcrowding in church crypts and graveyards. However the true deciding factor which lead to the new laws being enforced on such a mass scale across the entire Russian empire was to avoid further outbreaks of highly contagious diseases, especially the black plague which had led to the Plague Riot in Moscow in 1771.
The Volkovo cemetery was founded in 1773. The first person to be buried in this cemetery was Johann Gebhard Brethfeld, a merchant in Saint Petersburg.