Schloss Dammsmühle

Schloss Dammsmühle (240964963).jpeg

Dammsmühle Castle is a neo-baroque manor house with a 28 hectare surrounding area in the district of Barnim of the state of Brandenburg. It is located on the territory of Schönwalde in the municipality of Wandlitz.

Nordostseite des Schlosses über den Mühlenteich

In the 16th century there was a mill on the site of the present-day Dammsmühle Castle, probably belonging to the Cistercian monastery of Lehnin, which had been in the possession of the lands of the area since the 14th and 15th centuries.

Around the year 1650 there was a hunting lodge on the site of the Cistercian mill on behalf of the Grand Elector Friedrich Wilhelm.

The site of the former mill was acquired in 1755 by the Berlin leather manufacturer Peter Friedrich Damm, who had the exclusive right to supply the Royal Prussian Army with uniform parts made of saber leather. He built the building of the Dammsmühle Castle in 1768 as a two-storey palace in a wooded area of the Barnim, west of the village of Schönwalde near Lake Mühlenbeck. Queen Elizabeth Christine, the wife of Frederick II, is said to have stayed there several times. In keeping with the fashion of the Rococo period, the castle had a theatre hall upstairs. After Damm’s death, the building fell into disrepair because there was no heir. At a forced auction in 1894, Lieutenant Adolf Wollank acquired the property and converted it into a manor house. He had the building rebuilt in neo-baroque style by the Berlin architects Gustav Erdmann and Ernst Spindler, upgraded, added with an extension and a tower with an onion hood added. On an artificial island in the mill pond, he had a building built in the form of a mosque, inside which was a large dance hall.

After the death of Adolf Wollank on 27 April 1915, his brother Otto Wollank managed the castle, which was now named Dammsmühle after his builder. Adolf Wollank was buried on the grounds of the castle in the Hubertus Pavilion opposite the castle, which he commissioned. The pavilion is no longer available.  The castle was sold in 1919 to the merchant Hermann Zirkel from (Berlin-) Zehlendorf.

Ten years later, in 1929, the British Harry Goodwin Hart, then director of Unilever, bought the property. After Hart and his Jewish wife had to leave Germany in 1938, it was expropriated in 1940. Now the castle came into the possession of Heinrich Himmler. From January to July 1943, 20 to 25 prisoners from Sachsenhausen concentration camp were employed for construction and maintenance.  Shortly before the end of the war, the commander of the Berlin-defending Wehrmacht army group “Weichsel”, Colonel General Gotthard Heinrici, opened his headquarters here.

After the end of the war in 1945, the castle was occupied by the Red Army. In 1959, the Ministry of State Security of the GDR took over the house and used it as a hunting lodge until 1989. During this time it was rebuilt, among other things in 1968 the existing Mansard roof was replaced by a full floor. After reunification, the castle briefly served as a hotel.

In 1997, the heirs of Harry Goodwin Hart were given back the property, who sold the property. The castle fell into disrepair due to years of vacancy.

In 2000, the area was used by a Berlin concert organizer (Messe & Eventbau Reissig headquarters Teltow-Fläming Brb aktuell) until October 2003 for open-air concerts of various genres, which attracted about 30,000 concert-goers annually and thus increased the awareness of the area. In 2003 the open-air music festival Nation of Gondwana took place there. The planned concept of developing Dammsmühle Castle into an event and recreation centre was ultimately not realised. The site was thus subjected to further decay, vandalism damage and illegal waste disposal.

In 2008, the property was transferred to Schlossgut Dammsmühle Management GmbH, which wanted to expand the site as a cultural experience world with free access for the public. This company entered into a long-term lease agreement with private man Gerd Matern the following year. Matern actually began a gradual transformation of the castle and the park. Since the early summer of 2009, numerous events have been organized on site, such as a Schloss-Biergarten brunch, a 3-lake run for everyone around the Mill Pond, a vintage car show with a rock concert, a haunted festival, etc. In addition, the revival of the bathing tradition, also in the rooms of the castle, was planned to set up a gourmet restaurant, a nightclub and a café in the former bowling alley. In the meantime, however, the operating company has ceased its activities.

Read more here at Wikipedia (in German)

Castle Dammsmühle in Schönwalde

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Gotthard Heinrici.jpg

Gotthard Fedor August Heinrici (25 December 1886 – 10 December 1971) was a German general during World War II. Heinrici is considered as the premier defensive expert of the Wehrmacht. He was the commander-in-chief of the Army Group Vistula, formed from the remnants of Army Group A and Army Group Center to defend Berlin from the Soviet armies advancing from the Vistula River.

Read more here at Wikipedia

Read about WWII here

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