Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part III

The Long Arduous Road to the Panwitz Estate

While World War I was still raging and devastating Europe, Anna’s husband Ludwig von Waldenfels was reactivated into the military service on July 27th 1918 and served as supervising officer at a penal camp at Oberhaus near Dachau until demilitarization in May 1919. Now already 43 years old with a modest pension Ludwig had to worry about his family’s future. After his high school graduation in Munich he had taken a three-semester training course at the forestry college at Aschaffenburg between 1894 and 1896. Therefore, he had some basic agricultural knowledge. On the northern edge of Passau the couple acquired the estate Kastenreuth. On the hilly terrain the work in the fields was not very cost effective and the harvests appeared to have been quite meagre.  Already by 1922 Anna and Ludwig sold the property to the physician and researcher Professor Dr. Wilhelm Kattwinkel.

In the same year they acquired the estate Neuhof (today Polish Garbek) in the county of Schlochau. It was located right at the border of the newly formed ‘Corridor’ between the remaining part of German West Prussia and the new state of Poland. According to my cousin Eberhard Klopp’s research my Uncle Hermann (1892-1937) had passed on the 200ha property to his brother-in-law Ludwig. As a result of the Versailles Treaty the Polish border was moved within a few metres of the estate boundary. It ran about 300 metres east of the village street alongside a pond still existing today. In a 100 m direct line of sight was the Polish hamlet Zychce (German Sichts). In 1921 the West Prussian rural bank founded ten settlers’ places in Neuhof. Baron von Waldenfels and his wife Anna acquired the remaining parcel with the even today well-preserved estate building on the left side of the village street.

In the village of Neuhof of some 200 inhabitants Ludwig von Waldenfels worked the 810ha farming property and served at the same time as mayor until 1927. “The inhabitants originated mostly from the stolen parts of West Prussia and partly from Münsterland (Münsterland is a mostly flat, agricultural region in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany).  Only 14 people were speaking Polish.” When the family von Waldenfels left Neuhof in 1927, their property was also parcelled into seven more settlements.

It is definitely unimaginable that the couple von Waldenfels accustomed to the big city life style of Metz and Berlin would feel at home in the solitude of a remote little border village. In the year of their departure in 1927 brother Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964 my father) found employment and stay during the summer harvest. Mostly likely he participated in the preparations for the move out of the second agricultural venture. In the remote bush, heather, and meadow landscape with a few deciduous woods the family von Waldenfels managed to last barely five years.

Now brother-in-law Herman Klopp jumped into action as helper in a new government initiative. Having been the administrator of the copper mill near Meseritz, East Brandenburg (today Polish Miedzyrzcezc) he was familiar with all locally pertinent facts. He made a concrete proposal to the couple von Waldenfels, which turned out to be a stroke of luck.

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels, neé Klopp – Part II

Conversion to Catholicism

Anna’s mother-in-law living at Etzenhausen near Dachau insisted that she and her baby converted to the Catholic faith. This intent according to the Wolmirstedt-Zielitz family clan represented the ultimate of impertinence towards the family, which from earliest times has presumably adhered to the Lutheran confession.

As long as Ludwig Max von Waldenfels has been for 16 long years serving in the same Metzger regiment (1905 battalion assisting officer, 1909 promoted to senior lieutenant, 1913 captain and company commander), religious questions played a minor role in Ludwig’s life. However, the choice of his wife was an entirely different matter. Anna did not befit his social status.

Anna and Ludwig must have been trying for years to navigate around the cliff of Ludwig’s mother’s adamant position. Now because of mother-in-law’s pressure and of related inheritance and financial questions, the situation demanded a sacrifice, from which there seemed to be no escape. The future husband had earlier introduced Anna to his mother as a ‘society woman’. The wedding took place on October 19, 1916. At the same time little Fritz Georg most likely was baptized into the Catholic faith. Obviously money and inheritance matters accelerated the decisive step.

Twelve years had passed until the Klopp offspring Fritz Georg received the prestigiously sounding name von Waldenfels now even with the blessing of his grandmother and the Catholic church. Now the Klopp family of Wolmirstedt and Zielitz could no longer despise Anna for her loose life style they had accused her before, but her conversion to catholicism definitely made her a renegade in their envious eyes. It made no difference whether her change of religion was based on Jewish or Catholic causes. Despicable was everything that deviated from the Wolmirsted-Zielitz norm, even at the risk of having confused in their stupidity apples with pears.