The Association of Friends of Schloss Wiepersdorf
The Association of Friends, a registered non-profit organisation according to German law, is supporting the Artist Residency Schloss Wiepersdorf (Kulturstiftung Schloss Wiepersdorf) as a place for lively debates, creative work and substantive encounters. It was the historic home of Bettina and Achim von Arnim, the famous romantic literary couple, who moved there in 1814. Their works, European romanticism and its role as a precursor to modern and contemporary literature is given our special attention.
Originally a typically baroque country house, Schloss Wiepersdorf was enlarged and embellished at the end of the nineteenth century by the grandson of Bettina and Achim, the painter Achim von Arnim-Bärwalde, who studied arts with Theodor von Piloty in Munich. WIdely known for its achitectural harmony and intimate elegance it is considered one of the most important historic monuments in Brandenburg and beyond in the Eastern part of Germany. The fascinating history of literary and artistic creation make it a top destination for all those who enjoy reflecting and working in an inspiring architectural and landscape setting. Schloss Wiepersdorf became a popular retreat for artists and authors in the East German GDR era prior to reunification. It was re-opened as an artist residency after German unification.
Due to urgent basic renovation work of the historic building, Schloss Wiepersdorf is temporarily closed. It will resume its activities in mid-2020 under the new structure of a "Cultural Foundation Schloss Wiepersdorf", owned and managed by the State of Brandenburg. The "Bettina und Achim von Arnim - Museum", established with the help of the Goethe-Museum in Frankfurt/Main and managed under the guidance of the Association of Friends, is devoted to the poets, their life and literary work as well as to some of their descendants. Due to ongoing renovation work it had to be closed for the time being.
Traditionally, Wiepersdorf Artist Residency is open from March to November. For inquiries on fellowships see information provided by the Kulturstiftung Schloss Wiepersdorf (www.schloss-wiepersdorf.de)
Schloss Wiepersdorf is renowned for its creative atmosphere. Artists-in-residence and scientific researchers benefit from a unique opportunity to share experiences. They appreciate the tranquillity of the place. The proximity to Berlin, situated 80 km to the North, is seen as an additional advantage.
Romanticism and Wiepersdorf: Three years after their marriage in 1811, Bettina and Achim von Arnim moved from Berlin to Wiepersdorf. Both are key figures in German romanticism and became well-known all over Germany and beyond. Throughout her life Bettina von Arnim, née Brentano from Frankfurt with an Italian family background from her father's side, was passionately advocating greater individual freedoms and social justice. Her pleas to reduce widespread poverty were widely known. She urged Prussian King Frederick William IV to grant freedom to Poland, partly occupied by Prussia. In her honor, a German emigré group supportive to the pre-revolutionary movement of 1848, founded a settlement in Texas/US named "Bettina". It was short-lived, however.
Schloss Wiepersdorf remained in the Arnim family until 1945, when Soviet troops occupied the place. The family had to leave the Schloss immediately. The last private owner of the three Arnim-family estates Wiepersdorf, Zernikow and the medieval castle Bärwalde (close to Wiepersdorf, destroyed in 1947) was Friedmund von Arnim, who died in 1946 as a prisoner in the Soviet Union. His sister. the painter Bettina Encke von Arnim, managed to help transform Schloss Wiepersdorf into a public literary retreat for writers and artists. Thus, the destruction of the building was prevented and the tradition of creativity survived. She was supported by Ivan Katz, a former Communist and Jewish member of the Reichstag, who enjoyed protection by Friedmund von Arnim and the Encke family during the Nazi-era. Starting in 1946, at the initiative of Bettina Encke, Schloss Wiepersdorf became a holiday home and place for studies in the GDR-era. The family then left East Germany.
A pre-requisite for writers to stay in Wiepersdorf after 1946 was a permission by the East German Writers Union, which became owner in 1956. Its first president was Anna Seghers, who often came to Wiepersdorf. Many residents, also from Central Eastern Europe, became attached. On 4th April 1965 Schloss Wiepersdorf was named “Bettina von Arnim-Heim” on the occasion of her 180th birthday. Ownership was transferred to the “Kulturfonds” in 1979. Famous alumni such as Martin Mosebach, Thomas Rosenlöcher, Rüdiger Safranski, Marcel Beyer, Agus Sarjono and Svetlana Alixejevitch, the 2015 Nobel-prize laureate for literature from Belarus, added to the reputation of Wiepersdorf.
After German unification in 1991, Schloss Wiepersdorf remained an Artist Residency. Friedmund von Arnim’s s wife Clara von Arnim, née von Hagens, founded the „Association of Friends of Schloss Wiepersdorf“. She renounced her entitlement to claims for compensation and secured the transfer of the literary heritage to the Weimar Classic Foundation. For placing public over private interest, German Federal President Johannes Rau awarded her the Maecenas Prize of the Circle of Independent Cultural Institutes in 1999. Professor Hartwig Schultz, the former Head of the Brentano Department at the Goethe-House in Frankfurt followed Clara von Arnim as chairman until 2013, when Ambassador (ret.) Dr Norbert Baas was elected his successor and has been chairman since then.
In 2006, the German Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Monuments (Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz) became owner of Schloss Wiepersdorf. Until mid-2019 it has been financed and managed in cooperation with the State of Brandenburg, to which ownership was re-transferred and which took over over the exclusive responsibiliy for managing the Artist Residency.
In October 2015, the Association of Friends, in cooperation with the Artist Residency, held a symposium on how the perception of romanticism evolved in East Germany (GDR).. The writings of Franz Fühmann and of both Christa and Gerhard Wolf shed new light on German romanticism, which had met with scepticism during the first years of the German Democratic Republic but became more and more accepted and underlined the growing desire for societal transformation and greater freedoms of expression. In 2017, the Association published a book “The Blaue Blume in der DDR – Bezüge zur Romantik zwischen politischer Kontrolle und ästhetischem Eigensinn” (Quintus-Verlag Berlin) with fifteen contributors, edited by Friederike Frach and Norbert Baas.
Gifts or membership contributions to the Association of Friends are highly welcome. They are tax-deductible according to German law and used to support fellowships at the Residency and for the museum. To further its mission, the Association is helping establish and strengthen international contacts to benefit the Artist Residency and is seeking additional sources of sponsorship.
The Association would greatly appreciate applications for membership. The annual minimum contribution is 30,00 Euros. Please contact us for any question or queries at
Board of the Association of Friends:
Dr Norbert Baas, Ambassador (ret.), chairman, Berlin
Dr Friederike Frach, Cultural scientist, Berlin, deputy chairwoman
Dr Torsten Walter, lawyer, Potsdam
Stefan Beyer, M.A., composer
Dr Asmus Trautsch, philosophy and arts
Board of Advisors:
Dr Reinhard Anders, former member of the Volkskammer
Dr Hildegard Baumgart, author
Professorf Dr Wolfgang Bunzel, Head of the Brentano Department, Goethe House Frankfurt
Dr Friedrich Dieckmann, author, Berlin
Dr Christian Ehler, Member of the European Parliament
Philipp von Knebel-Doeberitz, legal advisor and accountant, Wiesbaden
The Assoociation of Friends of Wiepersdorf are grateful for gifts to support the Artist Residency and the museum. Transfers to the account „Freundeskreis Schloss Wiepersdorf e.V.“, Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse, IBAN: DE90 1605 0000 1000 5265 82, BIC: WELADED1PMB