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Route No. 5 – Dwasieden

1. Gate house

Today, it is hard to imagine that, more than 100 years ago, this was the entrance to a well-kept park area of around 102 ha – the castle grounds of Dwasieden. On top of the steep bank in the middle of the forest stood a splendid castle, which served banker Adolph von Hansemann (born July 27, 1826 in Aachen, † December 9, 1903 in Berlin) as a summer residence from 1877 to 1903. The entire park was fenced, and two gatehouses were built at the main access roads. The second one (see below a historical picture dated around 1920) is located at the other end of the castle grounds at the so-called „Schlossallee” (castle avenue). A listing from the 1920s stated: „2 gatehouses, solid, hard roof – one inhabited by a forest warden, the other by a forest warden´s widow.” Travel guides offered various information on permissions to visit the park: 1897: „…visits to the park are gladly permitted by the owner”. 1902: „…is open to visitors at all times (small tip for the gatekeeper).” 1905: „Dwasieden can only be entered with a ticket; Crampas’ spa guests can obtain this ticket at the Lanken estate management upon presentation of their legitimation card…”. 1908: „… after ringing the bell, one is readily admitted to the grounds, a visit to the inside of the castle, however, is not permitted”. About Gerd von Oertzen, the castle’s last owner, it was written in 1927: „…he can no longer allow the public to visit the castle and its grounds. He is tired of the public staring at his dining table every day…”.

2. Castle Dwasieden

Adolph von Hansemann (born July 27, 1826 in Aachen, † December 9, 1903 in Berlin) and his “Disconto” company – a predecessor to the Deutsche Bank – stood on top of the German Empire’s high finance. Therefore, he had more than enough money to build a magnificent castle for himself (according to present research the most expensive building on Rügen), made of Swedish granite and marble and clad with French sandstone. Construction costs: 4 million Reichsmark – an enormous sum at that time. Its constructor, Friedrich Hitzig, was a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. A forest aisle, cut for this purpose only, was used to haul raw building materials from the sea over the steep banks up to the building site where they were further processed by artists and craftsmen. Hansemann used his castle only for two months a year as a summer residence and for one week in fall when he went snipe hunting. Celebrities such as the German imperial couple, high-ranking bankers and the poet Gerhard Hauptmann also resided in the magnificent, neoclassical building. Today, the only reminders of the former splendid “Gründerzeit” building (its construction took from 1873 to 1877) are some isolated remains of columns and the ruins of the two pavilion wings („galleries“). In 1934, the navy moved to Dwasieden and the castle was used as an officer’s casino. The building was demolished in the summer of 1948. Following orders of the Soviet occupying forces, all military relics had to be destroyed.

3. The military

In 1935, the German navy discovered this location for themselves – situated close to the Baltic Sea, well camouflaged in the forest and, last but not least, because of Dwasieden castle itself as it was perfectly suited as an officers’ mess. Apparently, the municipality of Sassnitz was so interested in a naval garrison that they were ready to resell the castle to the navy for as little as 175.000 Reichsmark. The castle’s former owners, the Oertzen family, who had sold the castle to the municipality on the strict condition not to resell it to the military, did not know anything about this sale and were therefore utterly deceived. State-of-the-art barracks were built in Dwasieden. In an insert to the “Ruegensche Post” on July 19th, 1938, the naval garrison was highly praised: „Saßnitz on Rügen is considered to be Germany’s most beautiful naval garrison, and it has only been existing for about a year.” A range finding school was established; using rangefinders, recruits had to prove their accuracy on shipwrecks dredged by and rising weather balloons. From 1935 on, Dwasieden went through various military stages and therefore, until 1990, it had always been cut off from the outside world. A short overview: „Kriegsmarine“ (navy) 1935 – 1945; „Seepolizei“ (coastguard) 1950 – 1952 (in June, 1952, the GDR government created the „Kasernierte Volkspolizei“ police force and in this context, on July 1st 1952, the „Seepolizei“ coastguard was renamed „Volkspolizei-See“); „Volkspolizei-See“ (coastguard) 1952 – 1956; Naval Forces/„Volksmarine“ (navy) 1956 – 1990.

4. Trade school

Command No. 11 of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) of January 11th, 1946 regarding the development of deep-sea fishing in East Germany indirectly led to the apprenticeship training in Sassnitz. The local fishing company was founded on January 1st, 1949 and soon after, fisherman became a qualified occupation. Training began in 1950, at this location in 1952, with six apprentices only. In the 70s and 80s, every year three classes with 30 apprentices each followed this education. It added up to 5,500 apprentices until the German reunification in 1990.

In addition to deep-sea fisherman, other vocational occupations included: coastal fisher, ship mechanic, fishmonger, electrician, office clerk and skilled worker for handling and storage processes at the port of Mukran.

As part of the GDR solidarity services, young people from Zambia, Cambodia, Namibia, Angola, Vietnam and Nicaragua were trained at the trade school of the „VEB Fischfang Sassnitz“ fishing company. Each year, up to 250 apprentices were housed in the hostel for apprentices.

After 1990, fishery lost its high status and due to the growing tourist industry, the island was in dire need of young cooks, waiters and restaurant professionals in order to meet the requirements of the restaurant and bar sector. This required the construction of the present trade school which now offers modern training opportunities for more than 800 apprentices.

5. Forest cemetary

It’s March 6th, 1945 – late in the evening. Most citizens of Sassnitz are already asleep or about to go to bed. The harbour and the roadstead are filled with naval and refugee ships. In railway carriages in the harbour area, people are waiting to continue their journey west, when the well-known and feared signal sounds – air raid alarm. It happened several times before, but every time the bombers spared the small town of Sassnitz and flew over it. But when this time target lights, so called „Tannenbäume“ (“Christmas trees“) are set, everyone knows: “This time it’s us”. British pursuit planes start the attack with machine gun fire, before bombers drop their load onto Sassnitz, the harbour and the ships. While most inhabitants seek shelter in cellars, the nearby chalk quarries or in the forest, the refugees are helpless in the face of the attack. After 30 minutes, it´s all over.

According to a Sassnitz chronicle, the local leadership of the National Socialist German Workers Party – NSDAP – did not release the victims of this night of bombing for individual burial and they had to be buried in mass graves. At the Old Cemetery and here, in Dwasieden, many victims of this air raid and the war found their last resting place. After 1945, Franz Settegast from Sassnitz was particularly committed to create dignified graves for these victims. The forest cemetery here in the Dwasieden forest is still a location for various commemoration ceremonies.

6. The large dolmen

In addition to the ruins of the once pompous Castle Hansemann and the mysterious military relics, Dwasieden has another sight to offer – and one that is quite old as well. With its approximate age of 5000 years, it is one of the oldest constructions on Rügen. In 1806, it even cast its spell on the famous painter Caspar David Friedrich, who immortalized it in a drawing: the large dolmen of Dwasieden.

Large dolmens – megalithic complexes (large stone complexes) with more than two capstones – can often be found in Western Pomerania. A prominent feature of this construction from the so-called „Trichterbecherkultur“ (“Funnel Beaker Culture“) is its being embedded in the approximately 35 meter long and between 7.5 and 12.5 meter wide long barrow with its four prominent guardian stones. Excavations have produced many artefacts, among others more than 1500 shards, amber beads, various vessels and different tools.

In the course of the last centuries, many of these megalithic sites fell victim to religious fanaticism, quarrying or, being an obstacle, to agriculture. Even today, protected monuments are still being destroyed or misused. The large dolmen of Dwasieden stood the test of time and invites the viewer to a time journey into Rügen’s several thousand years old, rich cultural history.