The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Category Archives: Family Research

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part XX (Final Episode)

8

Aunt Anna’s Neglected Gravesite

At the end of the 1950s, after giving up the house in Söcking, Bavaria, Anna von Waldenfels moved to Freiburg/Breisgau close to her sister Meta Mülbert, who lived at Maria-Theresiastraße 4. Her husband Vincenz had passed away in 1958. Anna at first rented an apartment at number 7 across the street.

In the summer of 1959, while on a bike tour through Germany with my friend Rainer Schüler, I visited both aunts, who add moved together at No. 4. I remember Aunt Anna quite well, a feisty old lady filled with an unbroken spirit and a fervour, which revealed strong nationalistic overtones. She spoke to us young men of sacrifices to be rendered in blood and honour to put Germany back on her feet again. Obviously, her heart and mind were still dreaming of an era that no longer existed. These bizarre ideas of a past imperialistic Nazi-Germany, having brought nothing but extreme suffering and total destruction to many nations under its control, were completely foreign to us growing up in democratic West Germany.

At about the same year she met for the last time her granddaughter, the then 23-year old Carola von Waldenfels (born in 1932 at Lagowitz). She had most likely made a farewell visit and proceeded from there to travel as a photographer to California, USA. The two widows maintained contact with Ernst Klopp (my father), who had remarried and lived with his new wife Erna Klopp (née Krämer) in Michelbach near Schotten.

Once a resolute, energetic lady, always leaving the impression of a governess, now suffered from bladder incontinence, which considerably restricted her mobility and physical activities. At 82, she died of cancer on 3 November 1969 in Freiburg/Breisgau. The two families Georg von Waldenfels from Haren/Ems and Meta Mülbert provided on 7 November 1967 a final resting place for Anna on her beloved husband’s side in the Starnberg forest cemetery. Her son had arranged the transfer of his mother’s remains to Söcking, but he did not deem it necessary to take care of the completion by adding a cross for his mother. Fate’s irony is that her gravesite remained nameless just as the one of her eldest brother Friedrich Klopp (1875 – 1946)  in Gardelegen in the former German Democratic Republic. “Sic transit gloria mundi.”

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part XVII

11

Narrow Escape and Loss of Property

In the early part of 1945 Georg’s wife, Ilse  von Waldenfels escaped just in time from the rapidly advancing  Red Army. After briefly visiting acquaintances at Lake Scharmützel near Berlin she reached Berghorst in the Münster region in Northwest Germany, where her mother Helene née Wattendorf (1881 – 1973) resided. Georg after joining her as reported earlier became shortly afterwards a British POW and was interned in Recklinghausen until 1947. His entire property had been confiscated on account of his SS membership. There are some vague indications about Georg having been summoned as a witness against Genraloberst of the SS, Sepp Dietrich, in court proceedings at the Nuremberg war crime tribunal or at the Malmedy  Court, in which his former boss received a life sentence for being responsible for the shooting of POW’s during the Ardennes Offensive. The author Eberhard Klopp of these family chronicles did not further explore the connections of these claims. At any rate, Ilse von Waldenfels was able to send family care parcels to her interned husband in Recklinghausen.

By the end of January 1945, the Red Army was approaching the town of Tirschtiegel, which the Wehrmacht (regular German army) and SS units were defending on 30 January. Soviet units were breaking through the so-called ‘Obra Position’ and advanced on 28 January south and north of Tirschtiegel in a pincer attack all the way to the road connecting Meseritz and Bentschen. After the conquest of Bauchwitz only 5km north of Panwitz the Soviets not only blocked to the defenders the retreat from Tirschtiegel, but also to the rural inhabitants the escape route to the railway station in Meseritz.

Anna von Waldenfels describes the loss of her beloved Panwitz. “We were totally unaware the Russians with their tanks were ready to strike at any moment being only 5 km away from us. A general of the SS came by and told us that he would take us to Berlin if we would make up our mind immediately. He warned, ‘Tomorrow you all will be hanging from a tree’. Indeed that’s what happened to all our neighbours who stayed behind. For us to escape was truly a miracle”. On the very next morning (29 January 1945) the Russians had occupied the entire county. All men were shot and all women were raped by the Asian hordes.

To be continued next Friday …

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part XVI

14

‘Castle’ Lagowitz in Ruins

In a chaotic flight with lightning speed from Posen (Poznan), passing through his beloved Lagowitz, Georg von Waldenfels reached his wife’s home turf, the Münster province in the northwest of Germany and became a POW of the British Army. Ilse von Waldenfels, when approached for an interview by my cousin Eberhard Klopp, the author of the Klopp Family Chronicles, was very reluctant to share any information on her husband’s past. In her eyes, more than 40 years later in 1996, Georg was ‘an insignificant subaltern officer, who did not play any special role in the SS. After the war, he paid his tribute. We never talked about those bad years anymore.” She like many other Germans of her generation had buried and suppressed deep within her guilt-ridden psyche a considerable number of events of the Nazi era.

In the night from 28 to 29 January 1945, a certain SS general was passing through Panwitz and demanded the immediate evacuation. His urgent warning revealed that the Red Army would be at their doorsteps within just a few hours. Perhaps it was only the SS-Obersturmbannführer by the name of Georg von Waldenfels, who in his flight from Posen in the direction of Berlin had quickly warned his parents. As early as 1980 the author of this book in translation had received the following information in Trier from a reliable source: “Our all-rounded super-provisioner in France, a man from the nobility, Sepp Dietrich’s staff officer, succeeded before the arrival of the Russians in burning down Castle Lagowitz.”

Should von Waldenfels have really destroyed his very own NS-Headquarters and Castle Lagowitz with all its incriminating documents and evidence turning them into a heap of rubble and ashes? Eyewitnesses can no longer be found. But the action in a time of perilous urgency fits perfectly within the overall frame of his mentality. Treacherous documents and correspondence of all sorts in the hands of the Russian or Polish authorities would have heralded a dangerous new beginning for Georg. If all these collected facts agree, the parents Anna and Ludwig von Waldenfels on the morning of their own flight from Panwitz may have seen Castle Lagowitz for the last time as a smoking and smouldering pile of ruins. Georg von Waldenfels has taken this particular piece of history with him into his grave.

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part IX

12

Georg von Waldenfels and his Great Ambition

The Nazi and his Shattered Dreams

Considering the massive amount of available information, I had right from the outset limited the scope of our family history to my wife’s and my grandparents and their children, our uncles and aunts, to our own stories and those of our children. As reported earlier my grandparents on the paternal side had 16 children, of whom my father Ernst Klopp was the youngest. My aunt Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) was the eighth child, who is the focus of the present series. So in view of this massive undertaking there is no time to deal with all the other children.

However, with Anna’s son Georg von Waldenfels I would like to make an exception, the reason being to avoid being accused of leaving out embarrassing details about one black sheep in the family, whose greed and ambition for fame and gain made him a follower of the Nazi regime. On the basis of documented files, which my cousin Eberhard Klopp had gathered from various government and archival sources, I tried to put together and to highlight Georg’s ‘achievements and failures’, which will clearly identify him as the black sheep of the family.

  • Early member of the Nazi party.
  • Known to disrupt meetings of other parties, especially speakers of the socialist and communist parties in pubs and other public places through rude and bullying tactics.
  • It was during this period that his marriage with Emilia (née von Zychlinsky fell apart and ended in divorce.
  • Emilie could not stand that the Lagowitz castle had become the centre and breeding ground for National Socialism (Nazi), all the more when she realized that her husband wholeheartedly embraced the new movement and supported it with vim and vigour.
  • Even Georg’s mother Anna von Waldenfels regretted the end of their relationship, although she was fully aware of her son’s conduct, which destroyed the earlier solid foundations of her son’s marriage.
  • One day after Hitler’s rise to power on February 1, 1933 Georg became member of the infamous SS with the number 147,781.
  • It is still difficult to see through the maze-like complexity of the SS organizational structure. Heinrich Himmler, the Reich’s leader of the SS, created one sub-organization after an another with various fanciful names to camouflage his intent to turn the SS into his own personal empire by enlisting as many members as possible with no regard to any military background and experience.
  • This may explain why Georg found easy access to the SS in view of his non-military background as estate manager.
  • But a career as a military high ranking officer seemed impossible under the given personal circumstances.
  • A fateful chance encounter in Berlin with the like-minded commander of Hitler’s body guard unit “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler” and friendship with this notoriously rambunctious leader removed the obstacles to Georg’s military career in a jiffy.

To be continued next Friday …

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part VII

15

The Second Marriage of

Georg von Waldenfels

At Lagowitz two children were born, Hans-Jürgen in 1929 and Carola von Waldenfels in 1932. When the children turned seven and four respectively, the marriage between Georg and Millie had already been in a crisis for quite some time. Officially the two separated on February 22, 1936.

In 1937 Fritz Georg von Waldenfels, quite bored with the monotony and bourgeois atmosphere of Panwitz-lagowitz living, got acquainted with his future wife in the ‘House Vaterland’ (House Fatherland), the greatest cabaret and dance palace of the Reich’s capital of Berlin, Ilse Jannink (born on May 9, 1914 in Epe near Granau, Westphalia). She was the daughter of the Dutch textile manufacturer Jan Frederik Jannink (1874 – 1943). Her father had founded the company in Enschede, Holland around the turn of the century. The son transferred the firm shortly before the beginning of WW1 to Epe and carried on the business under the company name ‘Germania’. In Epe he could avail himself of a personell match larger than in Holland. The cotton industry under his management employed in the 1920’s and 30’s almost 600 workers. South of Epe stood the stately family manor, the birthplace of Ilse Jannink.

Even at the age of 82 years (in 1996), Ilse looked very much like the singing superstar Lale Anderson, a celebrity of the early Nazi entertainment scene. Georg von Waldenfels married in July 1938 the tall 24 year old manufacturer’s daughter, who fitted well into the image of the blond girl ideal of its era. In stature she must have towered over her husband by an entire head length. A catholic wedding took place in Berlin, the wedding ceremonies in the St. Hedwig Cathedral and the banquet in the luxury ‘Hotel Adlon’.

Georg and his wife Ilse carried on with the management of the castle estate Lagowitz, supported by an administrator, an assistant and a secretary. They kept about 100 cows, a sheep farm, cultivated mostly sugar beets and maintained an orchard. In 1939 387 inhabitants lived in that village.

It remained an unwritten law in the new family von Waldenfels, never again to talk about the cast-away first wife. Millie von Waldenfels left Lagowitz with her two children in 1934/35, and, although pushed out, had no doubt received a royal compensation. She lost her family possession and the glorious showpiece Castle Lagowitz. One for the Klopp family exceptional and usurpation-style seizures catapulted the Klopp-von-Waldenfels branch into a ready made nest.

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part VI

15

My Aunt’s Triumphant Coup

With the marriage of her son Fritz Georg with Emilie von Sobieski (after her adoption she had become a von Zychlinski ), the heiress of Panwitz and Castle Lagowitz, Anna had climbed the highest possible rung on the social ladder of the Klopp family. Through an almost incredible stroke of luck and clever manipulation, grandmother Emma, daughter Anna and her offspring had married into an actual castle. From now on they were considered even among distant envious family circles as people ‘in the big chips’. The news about Anna’s grandiose coup made all the jealous gossiping about her Jewish ancestry and her good-for-nothing son freeze. All they could say in a both dubious and admiring tone was, “The grandmother, Anna and her son are now castle owners somewhere in West Prussia”.

With the acquisition of Lagowitz the von Waldenfels estate expanded to an impressive 1000 ha piece of property. Lagowitz (Lagowice) is by way of a dirt road a mere 3 km distance away from Panwitz. At the eastern village entrance stood the stately manor inside a park. The country castle was built sometime between 1850 and 1860 in the typical Windsor-Gothic style with its stylistically typical little towers and turrets. In 1995 the author of the Klopp family history, Eberhard Klopp, a distant cousin of mine, found nothing but a few remnants of the ruins of a once magnificent building.

Supposedly the Red Army had set it on fire in 1945. The Polish villagers reported the blowing up of the remaining ruins in 1947, when most of them had just arrived from East Poland to settle in this now Polish territory. Even though there was much information available about the still existing wooden church (built around 1550) in Lagowitz, the author could not find anything on the inherited castle of Emil von Zychlinski (1852-1922). At the castle entrance was supposed to have been a nepomuk-column . Today there is on a base a statue of Virgin Mary. Behind it there are the former state farm buildings, stables and granaries, which were after 50 years in run-down and dilapidated conditions. Opposite to the former castle entrance and the statue, two ‘socialist’ buildings are located, in which live the approximate 30 families of the personell of the communication centre of the Polish army (1995).

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