Today, we are going to start back where left off at the Schwerin Castle. There are other beautiful buildings right before the bridge over to the island and we’ll explore those first ………
Duke Christian Ludwig II of Mecklenburg (May 15, 1683-May 30, 1756) loved art and began collecting and buying in Holland and Flanders during its “Golden Age.” He collected the works of Jan Brueghel the Elder (one of my favorites), Peter Paul Rubens and many others.
The Staatliches Museum in Schwerin, was established by Frederick Francis II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1882. (We read about him in a previous post)
More about what happened in the family going forward…….. try to follow along, all these fellows have the same name, just different titles…………..
Grand Duke Frederick Francis II, died on April 15, 1883 and by all accounts was a good steward of the land. He was succeeded by Frederick Francis III, who was not so much……..From an early age III suffered from asthma and severe breathing problems. He could not live in Germany and decided to live instead on the shores of the Mediterranean, where the climate agreed with him. He was married to a Russian princess and this was fine with her too, because she thought the castle in Schwerin wasn’t quite up to her standards. III died in Cannes on April 10,1897, when he reportedly committed suicide by throwing himself off a bridge. It was thought his homosexual lover may have played a part in this, but the official version, and it may be the truth, was III experienced breathing difficulties in his garden and staggered around before falling off the bridge. His son, Frederick Francis IV, was only fifteen when his father died and his mother preferred that they continue to live in France to prepare him to eventually take the throne. When they did return to Germany for visits, his mother liked living at the hunting lodge near Rostock, rather than the Schwerin Castle. On the 9th of April, 1901, Frederick Francis IV came of age and began his reign in Schwerin. He set out to reform the Constitution, but failed miserably. On November 14th, 1918, following the defeat of the German Empire in WWI, Grand Duke IV, abdicated and the grand ducal throne and the regency ended at the same time. On August 11, 1919 the family had to abolish all titles of the sovereign, but could retain their name into their surname. Afterwards, the IV, was known as Freidrich Franz Herzog von Mechlenburg-Schwerin. The country was known as the Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
Then it gets a little dicey in the family. Friedrich Franz V, was born April 22nd, 1910. And although he didn’t hold any titles, any longer, he knew his pedigree. In May of 1931, against the will of his father, Freidrich Franz V joined the SS and by 1936 was promoted to the rank of Captain. In May of 1943, a family council was called by the Grand Ducal family and Freidrich Franz V was passed over as heir, in favor of his younger brother, Duke Christian Louis, who would instead inherit all the family property. By the summer of 1944, the V was posted to Denmark and served with the Waffen-SS tank corps. He died July 31, 2001. So, that was the history of the family that built the Schwerin Castle and many of the fine buildings in Schwerin. Over the years, the family had brought many art collections and numerous cultural events to the city.
But, what happened during and after WWII? All important artwork and art collections were outsourced for security reasons and moved to a salt mine in Grasleben, Germany, or to vaults in the basement of Schwerin Castle. During the war the Castle served as a military hospital and the Museum, as a uniform factory. Later, the Museum was used for a shelter for refugees. After the loss of the war and the seizure of power of the National Socialists, the artwork was deemed degenerate and many of the works in the Schwerin Collection were lost. Does that mean lost or stolen, I wonder?
So, there you have it………….Let’s take a look at some of these buildings as they stand today……….
The main theater seats 650 people and is used for plays, opera, musical theater and ballet. It was built between 1883 and 1886 after the previous building was destroyed by fire. The complex also includes the State Museum, a 240-seat concert hall. All the theaters were closed in the fall of 1944 and the staff was drafted into the war. The buildings had minor damage from bombing during the war. After the war, the country, (now under Soviet control) was ordered to re-open the theaters and the people took great pride in operettas, then out of reach in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Also, following the war, many of the women came in night gowns as a substitute for an evening gown, since they didn’t own one. There was a gradual exit of key staff to the West, which provided openings for musicians, who were prepared to stay in East Germany.
Now walking further along into the Old Town………………..In 1751, Duke Christian Ludwig II, granted the privilege of specializing in a wine trade, to Johann Georg Uhl, from Württemberg, a region known for their wines. He was granted the privilege of bringing in all sorts of wines and brandies and allowed to pick up foreign beer and sell it both inside and outside the city. You can imagine how popular Johann was! He became rich. From 1860, the company was known as the Uhle Company and he expanded his business to include goods from South Africa.
In 1896, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III awarded the great-grandson, Johann Heinrich Gottlieb Uhle the title, (Councilor of Commerce) and he continued to run the business. When there were no heirs the nephew, Carl Bühring, joined the company, and he and his sons changed the name to Bühring-Uhle. There was now so much wine being brought in that the merchants rented cellars in houses all over town to house the bottled and barreled wine. In 1906, they opened a wine restaurant and grand wine tavern in the present location. The new building boasted a three-story wine cellar. (to get the wine out of everyone’s house no doubt) Almost all the noble families in Schwerin attended the Grand Opening.
After WWII all private companies were expropriated and turned into nationally-owned operations. Georg Bühring-Uhle, the owner, resisted, but eventually fled to the West to avoid arrest. After the German reunification in 1889-1990, the company was again returned to the rightful family, the Bühring-Uhle’s. They own this 5-star hotel and restaurant today!
and looking at some of the other buildings in town………..a nice living space………
The State Chancellery is the seat of the Prime Minister and the headquarters of the state government.
and this is the Police Station……..impressive!
Café Prag is fashioned after a Vienna Coffeehouse and has been here for over two hundred years. Located on one of the most fashionable streets in Schwerin it is a famous meeting point for local politicians and journalists. It is also famous for the best cakes in town. Take Note!
The large auction house offers paintings, graphics, bronze sculptures, porcelain, silver, jewelry, books, furniture, coins, military memorabilia and postcards from Mecklenburg during the 19th and 20th centuries. What more could you ask for?
The old and new is nestled together………..
and there is Town Hall, the Rathaus…………
Finally, we come to the Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint John of Schwerin. It was moved here from the old city of Mecklenburg in the late 12th century and was originally built of timber. The foundation for a stone cathedral came later and after seventy-six years the church was consecrated. In 1222, Count Henry of Schwerin returned from a crusade with a reliquary of the Holy Blood, an alleged drop of Christ’s blood contained in a jewel. This was placed in the Cathedral and caused the church to become a place of pilgrimage. During the Reformation in 1524, the church was confiscated from the Catholic Church and given to the Lutherans. It was eventually made of brick and one of the earliest examples of Brick Gothic architecture.
We must go in here and see what we can find! See you tomorrow, as we continue our tour in Old Town, Schwerin!