Maria in the floodplain

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Aerial view of Haus Maria in der Aue

Maria in der Aue is the name of a conference hotel in Dabringhausen in the Bergisches Land . Erected at the end of the 1920s as the residence of an industrial family, it was still called Haniel Castle until the mid-1950s .


In 1379, Bruin von Garderode and his wife Metza confess, with the consent of their children, to the Dabringhausen court that they had sold their farm to the stone house of the Altenberg Abbey under Abbot Johann II. The Maria in der Aue house is on this land today. On March 1, 1925, District Administrator a. D. Karl Haniel and his wife Edith geb. Schleicher took over the Steinhausen estate with 157 acres of land for 80,000 marks without inventory (see literature) and had it expanded into a modern agricultural operation.

The entire area of ​​Haniel Castle also included the black powder mills along the Dhünn to Altenberg that had been shut down and destroyed by an Allied verdict since the end of the First World War .

Construction of the “Great House” and the National Socialist era

Karl Haniel 1920
Coat of arms Haniel 1920

In the years 1927/1928, the industrialist Karl Haniel had the palace , called "Das Großes Haus", near the Dhünn on the border with Altenberg as a hunting and guest house in the Baroque style and with all the comforts according to plans by the Berlin architect Otto Walter for 16 Million Reichsmarks ( around 54 million euros ). It was equipped with a heated swimming pool in the basement, a wooden bowling alley in a side wing, a large, precious library, a spacious dining room with a large kitchen, even a kitchen for dog food, spacious salons, a bar and an organ with 20 registers (cost: 40,000 marks) a particularly grandiose villa built by the industrialists at the time.

The entire area was fenced in and provided with wrought iron gates and, mostly unlocked, cast iron revolving doors. A statement was attached above one of the revolving doors with the note “The hiker is welcome here” . Today the walls are only a pillar of quarried stone preserved. The emblem of the Haniel family is as Supraporte carved above the lintel (and carved on the threshing floor of the neighboring farm Steinhausen) and consists of three donkeys heads after the French word âne , donkey ' , from the late Middle Ages in the French-speaking countries the family Haniel emerged. In the entrance hall of the castle, the donkey heads are set into the marble floor. Above the gate entrance is carved in Latin: Ille terrarum mihi praeter omnes angulus ridet 'This place smiles at me the most on earth' .

Haniel Castle around 1930

The extensive property also included a nursery, a farm ("Gut Steinhausen", which was at the same time significantly redesigned by the architect Walter and enlarged to a modern and efficient agricultural operation for the time), and in the valley a newly built coach house with coaches and coaches Car garages and horse stables (later called "Brunnenhaus" because the water supply to the floodplain was housed there until 1982 , today the seminar center ), forester's house (previously "Helenenhof", the Haniels' holiday home since the end of the 19th century) and riding arena as well as tennis courts with relaxation rooms and in an explosion protection embankment of a former powder mill an (unheated) outdoor pool ( today everything is leveled ). Karl Haniel's wife Edith was responsible for carrying out and monitoring the construction work associated with rock blasting, at times with up to 400 workers, who might also have brought up the idea of ​​the “castle” because her father Richard Schleicher , a needle manufacturer in the Eifel region , had bought an old castle there years earlier .

From 1928 to the beginning of the 1930s, extravagant celebrations were held at the castle. There were many aristocrats among the guests, including Hohenzollern . The popular Davis Cup winner Gottfried von Cramm is said to have played on the castle's two tennis courts . Up to 17 employees took care of the Haniels and the smooth life at the castle.

The family moved out again in 1934. In many places it is officially said that Edith Haniel - according to the standards of the National Socialist Nuremberg Laws - was not purely Aryan and therefore had to move to the USA with her husband and two adopted children . Within the Haniel family, however, it should be said that the spacious "palace" of the family ( Karl and Edith ) was probably a size too big . The consequences of the global economic crisis may also have affected the Haniels, so that the castle had to be sold. According to the opinion and research of a local history association, the Haniels did not move to the USA, but to Helenenhof a few hundred meters away, where Karl Haniel died in 1944 and Edith Haniel in 1961.

The National Socialist People's Welfare bought the castle along with 30 acres of land for 600,000 Reichsmarks in 1941 and established a kindergarten teacher seminar, as an extension of Ordensburg Vogelsang in the Eifel, one; The Cologne Gauleiter Josef Grohé lived briefly in the house on his escape in March 1945.

post war period

After the war, the castle first passed to the Allied occupying powers and then to the State of North Rhine-Westphalia for use by the Ministry of the Interior, which operated it as a children's recreation home until 1953.

“In April 1953, Pastor Karl Geerling, the founder of Familien-Ferien-Werk e. V. (FFW) , owned and visited the 'Haniel Castle' near Altenberg, which was for sale, but was prevented from further activities by a heart attack a short time later. So it took almost two years before a new attempt was made: in February 1955 Geerling and his sister [Anna] and the FFW board member [and architect] Ständer went to the castle from Altenberg to find out whether it was still open Sale stood. Almost a year later, on July 13, 1956, the FFW acquired the 'Haus Maria in der Aue' including the adjoining buildings [the Brunnenhaus] and a stately forest area from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia at a price of 184,000 DM. The federal government provided its For the first time, the budget title 'Family Recreation', which comprised 500,000 DM, made an amount of 150,000 DM available. Under the care of Klemens Heckeley [the father of the later press spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cologne , Christoph Heckeley], who took over the management of the house on April 1, 1956 [and also lived there with his family], the FFW took over the house for his family Used holiday leisure time: 13 families with around 55 children found space here at the time; the well-house, which was also acquired and which ensured the in-house water supply at the time, after a renovation from 1958 onwards offered space for four more parents and 32 children; The older boys slept at times in the gardener's house. "

Major fire and reconstruction

House Maria in der Aue, east side

“In this context, the 'Haus Maria in der Aue' was used until around noon on September 18, 1971, a short circuit in the roof beams caused a major fire that cremated the entire house [and destroyed large parts of the property. On the Art Nouveau garden with ponds, the children's house, which had been planned for many years, was built as part of the reconstruction, initially in exposed aggregate concrete with a flat roof. The actual reconstruction of the castle then began] on April 4, 1974. Almost exactly two years later, the newly built house was blessed by the then chairman of the FFW, Prelate Georg Alfes , and on April 3, 1976 the first family Holiday camps in the now enlarged house: 26 married couples with 98 children can now be accommodated here. The Cologne Cardinal Joseph Höffner officially inaugurated the 'new old house' on August 25, 1976 in a festive setting with numerous guests from politics, district and city administration. "


After another two-year conversion and renovation phase from 1994 to 1996, the house presents itself as a seminar and family hotel "Haus Maria in der Aue" and continues to be sponsored by Familien-Ferien-Trägerwerk e. V. operated. It has 73 double and 14 single rooms and is used for conferences, festive events and - in the summer and autumn holidays - for family holiday camps. There is a public restaurant, music events and readings . The area for parked cars was also significantly expanded and, after a series of burglaries in 1984, it was also illuminated.

Individual evidence

  1. a b The discreet rise of the Haniel family. In: RuhrRevue. The West , August 11, 2008, accessed January 27, 2016 .
  2. Even the nobility once met here. Kölner Stadt Anzeiger , April 21, 2008, accessed January 28, 2016 .
  3. a b Birgit Franks: Maria in der Aue, dream castle under the sign of the donkey. (PDF; 1.6 MB) In: Die Auslese (regional magazine). mm Marzellenstraße Medien GmbH, October 2012, accessed on January 28, 2016 .
  4. Verbatim quote from: Geschichte.
  5. Verbatim quote from: Geschichte.


  • Nicolaus J. Breidenbach : Steinhauser Hof. - In: Nicolaus J. Breidenbach (Ed.): The Altenberg Abbey. Your goods and relationships with Wermelskirchen. (= Altenberger Hefte, No. 35.) Odenthal-Altenberg, 2006 (without ISBN).

Web links

Coordinates: 51 ° 4 ′ 29 ″  N , 7 ° 10 ′ 5 ″  E