Kosmos Wiepersdorf


Stop 7: Sculptures of the seasons
© Dirk Bleicker

Stop 7
Sculptures of the seasons

By horse-drawn carriage and railroad: Wiepersdorf solitude

In Achim von Arnim’s day, a carriage and usually two days of travel were required to get from Berlin to Wiepersdorf. Achim complained in 1822. “It is rather odd that on all trips with the so-called coach to Berlin something happens, either it breaks down, or horses get sick.”

Horses were therefore always important. Achim von Arnim wrote articles about horse breeds for the Vossische Zeitung, a Berlin newspaper; the children were driven from Wiepersdorf Castle to school in Jüterbog by a horse-drawn carriage in the 1930s; and, as late as 1952, guests were still picked up by a horse-drawn carriage from the station of the local railroad in Reinsdorf. Believe it or not: in the early 1970s, a horse remained an “essential” at Wiepersdorf. There is even record of a residence director being kicked by the horse. Wiepersdorf remained on the fringes, despite the Berlin-Anhalt railroad, which connected Jüterbog to larger transportation networks as early as 1841 and which Bettina von Arnim already used quite frequently.

For those who like it, this seclusion offers a destination for excursions, undisturbed by urban distractions, the pace of life in the city, and information overload. And guests from the arts and sciences have the opportunity to work here in a concentrated manner.

For others, however, this peace and quiet bespeaks boredom. Bettina, in her day, remarked with hardly disguised sarcasm: “Gisel roasted eight apples today—really, something happens every second.”

Two hundred years later, the writer Ginka Steinwachs got hold of some rollerblades in Jüterbog to try out the Fläming Skate, a unique network of inline-skating and bike paths that stretches for some 230 kilometers through the Niederer Fläming region. And her colleague, Felicitas Hoppe, who later won the Büchner Prize, dared a parachute jump from an airplane in neighboring Reinsdorf. Otherwise, here is little of the loud and spectacular.

Foraging for mushrooms might be typical for Wiepersdorf, but it is met with mixed feelings. It was so popular in the 1980s that the house rules expressly stated that residents should “please ... not dry mushrooms in the rooms.” On the one hand, a forest walk is undoubtedly an expression of social activity with meditative qualities. On the other, however, it may also have provided an opportunity at certain times to escape those ears that might have been listening in the castle buildings and passing on what they heard. You can find out how Wiepersdorf became a socialist writers’ retreat center at the stop located at the forked oak tree.