Schloss Zeesen

Schloss Zeesen may just be the saddest looking former Prussian royal residence (though this Castleholic isn't entirely certain whether it actually was a royal residence or just a castle owned by a royal). There is not doubt, however, that the ravages of time have played their game with Schloss Zeesen located on the outskirts of Königs Wusterhausen just south of Berlin. Built by Baron Eberhard of Danckelmann according to plans by Johann Arnold Nering around the year 1688, the castle on the shore of a lake came into the hands of the Prussian royal family in 1697. Danckelmann served as the Prime Minister of Brandenburg-Prussia until that year but after political quarrels, Margrave Friedrich III of Brandenburg, the future first King in Prussia, seized his estates. The King gifted Schloss Zeesen to his son and heir, the future Friedrich Wilhelm I, who would become known as the Soldier King. Friedrich Wilhelm regularly spent the hunting season at nearby Schloss Königs Wusterhausen and while I haven't found specific mentions of his time at Zeesen, it's not too hard to imagine that he may have stopped there now and again on his hunts. 
By 1765, the Prussian state let Schloss Zeesen and the surrounding estate to the noble von Sydow family. During the following two centuries, ownership changed numerous times. The castle received its current appearance (or rather the one before it started to fall into ruins) during the early 19th century. Schloss Zeesen entered a new exciting age when Eugen Gutmann, one of the founders of the Dresdner Bank, purchased the castle in 1903. Apparently his parties were quite legendary during the days of the Empire. After Gutmann's death in 1925, the castle came into the hands of his fellow banker and friend Ernst Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt, who was Jewish, regularly had famous guests staying there until he left Germany in 1934. 
That same year, Gustaf Gründgens, one of Germany's most famous and influential actors of the 20th century who was also very friendly with the Nazis, became the new owner of Schloss Zeesen. Gründgens and his wife lived at the Schloss for the following ten years. In 1939, they even shot a movie, "The False Step" based on the novel Effie Briest by Theodor Fontane, at the castle. Following the Second World War, Schloss Zeesen was seized by the Soviets and henceforth used by the state. In the early 1990's, a group of artists from nearby Berlin squatted the building. They continued to live at the Schloss until 1999 and it since stands empty. While there are several articles from the mid-1990's to early-2000's about an ownership dispute between the heirs of Gustaf Gründgens and Ernst Goldschmidt, I cannot find any resolution to it - and judging by the sad state of the castle, there may not be one.

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