The suburb of Dresden called Lockwitz was for the first time mentioned with the name Lucasicz as a Sorbian [Wendish] village in 1288.
The centre of Lockwitz was always the knight’s estate with the knight’s manor for the first time mentioned in 1349. In the course of the following centuries, the estate changed hands to at least twelve families. (Knight Karras, von Ziegler, von Osterhausen, von Schönberg, von Racknitz, Count von Schall, von Wirsing, J. C. G. Steinhäußer, Preußer, and Freiherr von Kap-herr)my family. Part of the estate belonged in 1402 to the Dresden middle class family Ziegler, the other part belonged to the family von Alnpeck, who became sole owner in 1512. Some of their tombstones are still today in the Leubnitz church, to which Lockwitz was once attached.
The first description of the castle, with the recording of alterations, is going back to Johann Georg von Osterhausen, who enlarged the castle in 1621. He also brought together upper and lower Lockwitz into one municipality. At the same time the Schlosskapelle became replaced with a full size church attached to the castle, which became the centre of a church community in 1623. A curiosum is the church steeple which formed the connection between church and castle; which provided direct access from the castle to the patron’s church lodge – in existence until 1945.
Freifrau von Racknitz acquired Lockwitz in 1726, demolished the mansion built by J. G. von Osterhausen; and built instead a two storey castle with a mansard roof and an harmoniously structured Baroque façade.
A prominent guest in this castle was the Prussian King Frederic II, who established here his head quarters during the seven-year war in 1756.
The Lockwitz estate changed hands several times in the eighteenth century until it was acquired by Johann Karl Freiherr von Kap-herr in 1866. His father was Hermann Christian Freiherr von Kap-herr (1801-77), who became highly esteemed and very wealthy as one of the bankers of the Russian Czar Alexander II, in St. Petersburg. Hermann Christian, who made the financial arrangements of the Czar’s extensive construction of a railway network, returned with his family to Germany in the years 1866-68. For his three sons he acquired three estates on the outskirts of Dresden: Lockwitz, the principal residence of Karl Johann (1827-87); the I. Line, Bärenklause, the principal estate of Hermann Friedrich (1830-85) the II. Line; and Prohlis, became the principal estate of Johann Christian (1837-1918), founder of III. Line. In addition there were three agricultural estates purchased in Mecklenburg-Strelitz The head of the family, the banker Hermann Christian, built for his residence in Dresden the Palais Kap-herr on Parkstraße 7 (1872-74), which was destroyed by the bombing raid in 1945. This Palais, designed by Bernhard Schreiber, and the Palais Oppenheimer by architect Gottfried Semper, were one of the most impressive villas in Dresden.
Karl Johann had to create space for his seven children; he had removed the mansard roof, and added a third floor to the castle and had the whole mansion renovated in an Italian Renaissance style. The interior was lavishly transformed with a two storey high hall with large crystal chandeliers, a library containing 2,500 volumes, and a large collection of original paintings. With these alterations, the castle received its shape and structure that had been preserved to this date. The village road became detoured to allow in front of the castle the creation of a garden. Karl Johann Freiherr von Kap-herr also purchased adjacent grounds and forests herewith enlarging the knightly estate by 655 acres.
The oldest son of Karl Johann inherited the Lockwitz estate, and with the Royal Saxon edict of 1892 his estate was add to his name being called, Hermann Thomas Freiherr von Kap-herr-Lockwitz (1854-929). The other sons were Karl Johann II (1856-97), and Alfred Ludwig (1864-1931).
In 1929, Richard Hermann Karl Rudolf Freiherr von Kap-herr-Lockwitz (1889-1961), son of Hermann Thomas, [and father of the author], took over the estate with part-ownership of the other Kap-herr estates in Mecklenburg. The financial difficulties of the time, aggravated by the world wide economic crisis of 1929, demanded severe cuts. The top floor and some of the lounges were rented out, and the hall was converted into a home museum. The large fortune, which was largely invested in Russian railway bonds, became worthless after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Therefore, two of the agrarian estates in Mecklenburg as well as the Kap-herr Palais in Dresden had to be sold. Nevertheless, Richard Hermann was able through diligence and thriftiness, to maintain the Castle and give his family an amicable existence. Country living, freedom, and a metropolis at the door, allowed his children to bicycle to their high school; and enjoy a unique beautiful childhood.
After World War II, in September 1945 the knightly estate became expropriated, and the family evacuated to the island of Rügen. The castle became occupied by the East German authorities. Everything that was of the castle’s specific architecture was striped, stolen, or sold.
At first, there had been a firemen’s school set-up In the castle; thereafter they installed working facilities for schooling cartographers and students of geodesy. Later schooling barracks and garages were installed in the castle park for the voluntary Lockwitz fire brigade. At last, a school for surveyors of the department of land surveyors of the province of Saxon, which was closed finally in 2001.
After forty-five years, the director of the school gave Gabrielle a friendly tour of her former home. Proud to walk the familiar rooms, but shocked to find that nothing familiar had been left inside.
[In the early 1950 I had the opportunity to meet the Baroness Martha, mother of Gabrielle, in a village near Hannover, where she had been waiting for her husband to return to her. She told me the sad story of his attempt to save the estate Lockwitz for the family. Between the Russian occupation force and the Communist East German government there was a deal made that privately owned estates could only remain the private property if the landlord remains occupying the estate. Therefore, when my uncle had safely escorted his family to the West, he returned to Lockwitz, to defend his ownership right. However, the Russian army rounded up all the estate owners and put them into a concentration camp near Wolfsburg, adjacent to the West Germany border, and incarcerated them without enough food. The Russian guards did not stop anyone escaping to the West. The inmates had the choice, to stay to try to claim their rights and starve, or to give up their rights and escape to the West. With his escape to the West, the inevitable loss of the Kap-herr estate was sealed.]
After the flight from the island of Rügen, the community of joint heirs had spread all over West Germany. After the German reunification, they considered to regain the family castle. However, the castle without the attached land and forests [which had been already parceled and sold to several families], there was no feasible opportunity to make the purchase reasonable, especially when we would have to pay more than one million Deutschmarks. In 2005 we were advised that a purchase would include the need of an additional two millions to renovate the 47 room castle to make it commercially viable.
Since then a new Autobahn with a direct exit to Lockwitz could entice a hotel chain to purchase and restore the castle to its magnificence. It would make us happy [Gabrielle and me], if we could still see this in our lifetime.