Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part XVIII

Escape from the Horrors of War

On the morning of 29 January 1945 Ludwig von Waldenfels was totally against leaving Panwitz. Being a former WW1 officer of the Bavarian army, he planned to hide in the forests of Panwitz and armed with a pistol intended to sacrifice his life if necessary. His wife Anna knew how to curtail such dramatic, but senseless undertaking and with gentle force manoeuvred him into the waiting car.

The population of East Brandenburg (to which Panwitz belonged) experienced all the brutalities of the Russian hordes. The people percentage-wise paid the highest blood tribute rendered in 1945 at their expulsion from the German eastern provinces. In Rogsen alone, a village of 761 inhabitants 10 km south of Panwitz, a dozen men were shot and on the night of 29 January 1945 forty brutally raped women and girls committed suicide. Already in the afternoon of the same day, Soviet artillery shot from Heidemühl and Kupfermühle at a distance of 5km into Meseritz.

For Ludwig and Anna, in view of the military situation, there was only one escape route. It led over icy and snowed-in country lanes via Lagowitz and Brätz to the main connecting road to Schwiebus. With little luggage and the few things on their body, the couple reached after one week of travel Gauting near Munich. There they found first reception at their brother/brother-in-law Ernst von Waldenfels (1877 – 1955). He was a bank chief inspector and lived at 10 Hindenburg Street. He was in charge of money matters before the chaotic times set in. Here they experienced the arrival of the Americans and thus survived the war’s end.

Within just a few hours a life’s work and dream had sunk into oblivion. Only the nostalgic feelings of 18 years of Panwitz and Lagowitz remained, which nobody of the former residence would ever see again. Alive remains the memory of the shadowy gravesite of grandmother Emma Klopp (née Bauer) in the park of the Panwitz estate. Her final resting place was supposed to have become the family gravesite of the Klopp and von Waldenfels clans. The fury of war and the greatest mass expulsion in history had swept all this away.

Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part VI

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).