"I was just Mike-B. Weimar ": The grandson of the last Thuringian monarch in the interview
Weimar. Michael-Benedict, prince from Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach , certainly belongs to the struggling personalities in the free-market. The grandson of the last reigning Grand Duke of SaAxe-Weimar-Eisenach celebrates today his 70th birthday. We talked to him.
Prince from Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach , You will be 70 ...
... how mean that you point me out.
A 70-year-old has just been elected to the US president. Does not this also create political ambitions for you?
My drama is that I do not find a country of this magnitude to become president. (Laughs)
Let's talk about New York . When did you live there?
1969/70. I worked as a broker. It was an incredibly exciting time. Every second. If you have to sleep, you could not sleep, because you were afraid to miss something in this city.
How to introduce oneself as German Prince in New York? With all nine first names?
(Laughs) No. I was just Mike-B. Weimar . So I was one of many. I had no desire to be observed like an insect. I wanted America Authentic experience. So I have it in Amsterdam , London or Tokyo Where I have been working for a long time.
How do you feel the choice of Donald Trump From?
who knows the USA Is aware of its diversity, but at the same time knows how little the average American is aware of the international events, how strong and self - assured the cohesion in the churches and the local authorities is, can understand that the fundamental wave against the distant establishment Washington Has been established. Against those who put hundreds of millions of dollars in their pockets while hoping to be sanctioned. To this extent, unfortunately, this development is not entirely surprising.
And in Germany conceivable?
We should draw the right lessons from it. We also have a detached political caste that has moved far from the electorate, many of whom are dreaming of moving to the lucrative lobby position. And we also have an increasing rejection wave in our country. If I now think of the Bundestag election 2017, one must be in Berlin To think of something to prevent something similar.
A transit of the AfD?
I am afraid if the next four weeks would be elections, then the AfD would once again increase significantly against the polls. The time to 2017 is short. If the government does not understand the message, is more concerned with it, and insists on insulting electoral groups, it becomes very difficult.
First the Brexit, now Trump - where does this trend come from?
People have the nose from the development to a self-service democracy full. Many people have the feeling that politics is pushing reciprocity into each other, that democracy does not actually take place. To show that democracy has a future is a great challenge. This also includes breaking up the crusted party structures, promoting the gradual emergence of experienced personalities rather than repelling them and making it clear that the people are sovereign - and not the parties.
Have you ever considered going to politics?
With my name you have no chance. Before I have the opportunity to say a word, I am already in a drawer. I am a homo politicus, take part in the events. But I will not sell myself for political pots, will not give up my character for the career at the cloakroom.
You mentioned their name - when did you first realize that you were a prince are?
When I was teased for the first time. It is quite funny for teachers and students to rub on such an exotic. The word "bullying" was not there yet. It was a normal part of life. I have learned to get through. Pressure is hard.
But Princes go to elite boarding schools ...
I went before I as a 15-year-old at the boarding school Salem Came to normal schools. There was even a dwarven school in a village on Lake Constance At the same time. There were eight classes in one room. My school education was not exactly privileged.
Was it education at home?
No. My parents were under the shock of the result of the Second World War. There was not a single member of the NSDAP in my family. They have almost fallen from one shock to the next. So it was her concern to raise her children to independence. This is not a question of money but of attitude.
Has been conveyed to you that your home is actually quite somewhere else, namely in Thuringia , lies?
Naturally. As youngsters, we drove with the parents to the Hessian-Thuringian frontier and from afar the Wartburg watched. The flight was a traumatic event for my parents. It was an amputation that left deep scars in her psyche.
When were you the first time in Thuringia?
1972. Out of curiosity - and with a British passport.
How did you get to that?
I am entitled to do so by virtue of a law dating from 1702. The descendants of Georg I. and Dorothea von Hanover are qua law English by descent. This law was in force until a few years ago. So all of my family have an English passport. This is a very pleasant reinsurance.
With the German passport you could not have entered in 1972?
There was arrest warrant against us. When I entered, the GDR Just for international recognition. In particular from Great Britain . As an Englishman, I was also quite cautious. I was also in the military restricted area and the funeral home of a friendly family to visit and had in the end a smashed gravestone in the trunk. I was then seized by a borderline with the harsh question, which I have to look for here. I showed my passport and pointed out the visa that was valid for the entire territory of the country GDR . After a long round, they let me go. I was quite easy at the time about many regulations in the GDR Respectively.
With what feeling you were the first time in Thuringia?
That was a goose bump. The first time on the Wartburg Was indescribable. I have been in the former Furstenhof At the foot of the castle. The feeling of that time can hardly be described. Imagine, you are thrown out of their parents' house and come back after a long time and can visit it - at best as a paying guest. This is a peculiar feeling. This has something to do with dignity and roots. Both have been tried to us by the censure of civil rights.
When were you back in Thuringia?
1987. We have our daughter baptized here in Weimar In the Herderkirche.
Why in Weimar?
Because I wanted to tell my daughter where her roots are. It was Easter Sunday 1987, the church was full and it sang a wonderful Swedish choir. The superintendent began by saying that it was a pleasure and honor for him to be baptized again in this church for the first time after 1918, a member of the House of Saxony-Weimar. After these words, you could hear a pin fall. The reception in Weimar Was cordial and friendly. It was anything but alienated. That came later.
In what way?
In the first four years after the Wende, it was thought that everything that was not covered by the rights of third parties, which was thus after the change of state, was returned. In 1994 the law came, that nothing is returned but the movable property. In our case, almost the entire art was in Weimar . And with this a veritable war of the state government began Bernhard Vogel against me. The Minister of Education, Schuchardt, gave the best of all: one does not speak with princes. On the occasion of the birthday of TLZ chief editor Hans Hoffmeister, Vogel asked the press for the Saxon-Weimar, as he said, to be more severe. As Bill Clinton the Wartburg Visited, I wanted to remove myself as a risk factor. The Americans would have asked for it. I asked, and the Americans said they were outraged Erfurt . It was an unsightly time.
But they should have threatened to pack all the art goods and take them with them.
At the time, leading members of the Foundation gave interviews and told how terrible the demands of the House of Saxony-Weimar were. One even insisted that I would put my daughter's fist on the bedside table and throw away everything else. But I always said that nothing is removed here. Nobody wanted to listen.
Would you have put your daughter in the case of a case on the night table?
This is not even a good joke ... (laughs)
They have been accused of greed. Right?
Is the renouncement of our art treasures and thus to values of over a billion a sign of greed?
Have you believed in the fall of the Wall?
I had only limited space for world-political considerations at this time. I have tried to build my own life. The feeling that nothing is static, that no limit has finiteness, has often proved the story. A reunion, however, I could have imagined only in a larger context. Rather in a united Europe . And then only with the restoration of the illegally taken rights. This promise by the federal government, which has been repeated since its inception by the governments of our country, has been trampled with reunion.
Can you be specific?
Let us take the Wartburg foundation. It was founded in 1921 by my grandfather. Their statutes are still valid today. The statutes, as well as all amendments to the statutes since 1945, are unlawful since we have not contributed to them.
To what extent does this restrict you?
In my possibilities of co-operation and in my influence possibilities. It is important that there are institutions that are not subject to political influence and yet serve the public.
Subject: Classical Foundation Weimar . You did not just make friends.
This is not my goal either. I always ask myself what potential this foundation has, what the public expects from it, how it can be realized, what financial and human resources are necessary? Sometimes I get the impression that I am the only one to think about it.
What did you want do with the foundation?
To wake them from the sleepy sleep of the region, to let them become international. To this culture jewel also outside Thuringia Shine.
What are the goals for the Wartburg Foundation?
This is further than the classical foundation. It has its core competency in the Middle Ages and the Reformation. The 19th century has been neglected. But this time has come from the Wartburg First made what it is today: one of the most important symbols of our nation. The 19th century on the Wartburg Is, in my opinion, a necessary extension of the spectrum of the Wartburg .
Currently, Thuringia Over a territorial reform. We had once only seven principalities ...
(Laughs) When it comes to the end, the work of the authorities in Thuringia To better structure, to find faster decision-making, to ensure a greater proximity to the citizen. I wonder, however, why one does not begin with the construction of the central building, the government presidium has been rationalized and some of the tasks are delegated upwards, part downwards. That would be the first logical step for me.
And only the second would be to trim the substructure, but also the ministries, to efficiency.
In addition, you engage in Zillbach in the Thuringian Forest . Why?
I had the privilege to buy back my father's property. At least a small part. I am glad I was able to reclaim this piece of home. What remains is the bitterness that I had to buy it.
What is the meaning Weimar for you?
These are my roots, here have lived 34 generations of my family, here are the most buried - here I too will be buried. Only my grandfather, who is in Heinrichau And my father is not here. To bring them home would be quite a wish. But in Thuringia The interest is simply too small. Some Weimarers prefer their Thälmannplatz or the Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße. For many, history is something political or ideological.
How much pain it hurts you that Weimar no longer the is the cpital of Thuringia?
Well, Minister President Vogel came out Rhineland-Palatinate , Was Catholic. And Erfurt Belonged to the archbishopric Mainz, Germany . To this extent it was a matter of heart. They also believed that they had the better infrastructure. This is easy to invalidate. Take a look Hesse : The capital is Wiesbaden, Germany , not Frankfurt .
How is your self-understanding as a noble?
I see myself as a citizen of this republic. The constitution of the Federal Republic has no nobility, the right of naming it is not. For some, the nobility has become a commercial object - it is adopted for money. In this respect one can no longer speak of nobility. For me, nobility is a question of attitude, so there are many bourgeois who are nobler than many nobles.
How do you see the whole "of Anhalt", which are beating through the television broadcasts?
These are only Kleinganoven. (Laughs) I do not need to be ashamed, because I have nothing to do with them. I find it adventurous how these people are cheered by a third-class press.