Monday, November 13, 2006

A Man's Mobile Home Is His Castle

Helmuth von Maltzahn, baron of Ulrichshusen, and other aristocrats whose families lost their estates in East Germany under Communist rule have returned to reclaim their ancestral homes. Or at least to live in trailers nearby.

A hard-charging former cosmetics executive, von Maltzahn, his wife Baroness Alla, and their two small daughters gave up comfortable lives in West Germany in 1993 for a barely heated mobile home parked beside the ruins of the former family schloss, or castle. The walls of Ulrichshusen castle date to 1592. But the renaissance structure stands on the foundations of a von Maltzahn stronghold built in the 1100s.

"The communists were here for 45 years," von Maltzahn said during an interview in the main keep. "What's that? The blink of an eye. My family had been here for 800 years. Guess who is gone? Guess who is back? This time to stay. The land is my past, present, and future -- it holds the graves of my ancestors and will be my daughters' inheritance." [Link]
The von Maltzahns have since fixed up the place a bit.

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