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Karelshaff and its history

The "Karelshaff" is situated on a hill between Colmar-Berg and Mertzig or Michelbuch. In 1817, the building was built by Karl Daumartin and at that time served as a hunting lodge where both the noble and aristocratic social classes frequented. In addition to its function as a hunting lodge, the building was built in such a way that it was also possible to keep flocks of sheep. These flocks of sheep ran around the buildings to prevent everything from being overgrown by plants and bushes.  To this day, the area is secluded from towns and surrounded by a lot of woodland. This proved ideal for hunting, but also for the desired privacy of the princely guests from the surrounding area. Furthermore, it must be mentioned that this hunting ground was not far from the "Castle of Berg", which today is the Grand Ducal Castle in Colmar-Berg. Thus, at the end of the 19th century, shortly after the appointment of Grand Duke Adolph, the "Karelshaff" came into the possession of the Luxembourg Grand Ducal family. There upon William IV, as hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, moved into the present Grand Ducal castle and continued to use the "Karelshaff" as a hunting lodge. A few years later, the "Karelshaff" was put up for lease and several interested parties came forward. In 1906, the von Roesgen family signed the lease.

In 1949, the "Karelshaff" was sold by the grand ducal family and was acquired by Charles von Roesgen to be used as a farm. As Charles von Roesgen and his family were on good terms with the Grand Ducal family, the "Karelshaff" continued to supply the castle with food for many years. Furthermore, Grand Duke Jean and his family often visited the farm privately and thus maintained contact with the von Roesgen family. Noting that Charles von Roesgen became mayor of Colmar-Berg in 1957, a position he held until 1970. 

When Charles von Roesgen retired, his son, Franz von Roesgen, took over the farm together with his wife Marianne Kayser (1957). In 1959, their daughter, Alice von Roesgen, was born, and she married Jean-Louis Colling in 1986. Neither Alice von Roesgen nor her husband Jean-louis, worked in the agricultural sector at the time. Alice worked as an office clerk for an american firm and Jean-louis as a banker in a Luxembourg bank. When Franz von Roesgen retired in 2000, Alice and Jean-Louis Colling-von Roesgen took over the farm. Since 2002, the "Karelshaff" has been managed according to organic guidelines.  Today the farm is a well-known and recognised "organic demonstration farm". In cooperation with the IBLA (Reference Centre for Research and Advice in the Organic Sector in Luxembourg), the "Karelshaff" provides areas where research is carried out in order to further develop sustainable and organic agriculture. The "Karelshaff" is also known for its direct marketing of organic beef and chicken.  In 2020, the son, Grégoire Colling, who previously worked as social pedagogue, joined the farm.

 

The "Karelshaff" and its role in the Second World War

 

The following excerpt was taken from the following source: https://www.tageblatt.lu/headlines/das-verbrechernest/ (22.08.2018) and serves as an explanation of the role the "Karelshaff" played in the Second World War.

 "Reading our article under the title "From Hunting Lodge to Farm" brought back memories for some of our readers. One of them shared them with us by letter. They are events from the time of the Nazi occupation. "At that time, as noted in the Tageblatt article of 10 August, the von Roesgen family already administered the Karelshof, which was owned by the grand ducal family. The Nazis had quickly appropriated the farm at that time in order to sell it on to a German compatriot. A man from Trier bought the farmstead for an absolutely ridiculously low price," says the author of the above-mentioned letter.

At the time, this would have meant that the Charles von Roesgen family would have had to leave the farm. "That would have been a real catastrophe not only for the family, but also for all those who had taken the family in charge on the farm or hidden from the Nazis. Among them were war resisters, an Arbed foreman, a cousin and my father, a young lawyer, as well as my mother and myself," says Dony Calmes.

A little later, the buyer from Trier was reproached for having bought the farm merely to accommodate his son there and thus to protect him from forced recruitment into the Wehrmacht. The Nazis accused him of betraying his fatherland twice. The man from Trier then went into hiding. Nothing was heard from him until after the liberation. He wanted to enjoy "his property", but when this was denied him, he even took the Luxembourg state to court. There, the Trier man was summarily tried."

Two US pilots are hidden

In this section we go into another story that took place during the Second World War. The article is from the Tageblatt of 22 August 2018, which tells how the "Karelshaff" cooperated with the Resistance during the Second World War, in cahoots: " Dony Calmes also remembers the early morning of 23 August 1943:

"My father had made a first furrow in a field along Ettelbrücker Straße with his horse and cart when two American pilots in uniform came along the way, completely exhausted and visibly very ill. They asked my father for help. The two belonged to the 532nd Flying Squadron, which was stationed in England. Their mission was to bomb the SKF factory (manufacturer of ball bearings) in Schweinfurt on 17 August 1942. On their return flight, their Boeing B-17 ("Flying Fortress") was shot down near Koblenz. The crew on board saved themselves with parachutes, but were arrested on the ground by the Germans. Only the two pilots were to get away. They tried to make their way to Antwerp with the help of a compass and a map." At that time, the two Americans were hidden in an annexe of the Grand Ducal Castel (not far away from the Karelshof, in other words) and nursed back to health there. In addition to civilian clothes, they were also given new identity papers and, thanks to a network of resisters, were taken as far as England. Their stay in Luxembourg had lasted two months. This event brought about the arrest of my father and other helpers by the Gestapo in October 1943," Dony Calmes continues. "I wanted to bring this information to the public to show that during the Nazi occupation, the Karelshof was an important hub of intelligence and resistance in the region around Ettelbrück and Mersch, thanks to the von Roesgen family."

The occupiers were probably well aware of this fact at the time, as the Gestapo people had repeatedly referred to the Karelshof as a "criminal's nest" during the interrogation of Dony Calmes' father in Hinzert." 

Before the two pilots were taken to an annexe of the grand-ducal castle, the two were hidden for several days in a small patch of woods right by the "Karelshaff". The von Roesgen family provided the two exhausted Americans with food and contacted the thread-pullers of the resistance. After Christian Calmes, the father of Dony Calmes, and his fellow helpers were arrested by the Gestapo, the von Roesgen family took care of the remaining families. None of the arrested Resistance members mentioned Charles von Roesgen as an aide, as it was known that he was taking care of the families left behind.

Winter 1944-45

In the winter of 1944-45, the Allied and German forces engaged in the so-called Ardennes Offensive. Due to the heavy fighting in the Ardennes, the area around Ettelbrück was included in the warfare that lasted for weeks. The "Karelshaff" was recognised as a strategically important plateau, as it was from here that the city of Luxembourg could be shelled with artillery. Thus, without further ado, more than 200 US soldiers were stationed on the farm, equipped with several long-range cannons, reconnaissance planes and tanks. The farm became accommodation for the US soldiers, with an operating theatre, command centre and bedrooms.

German troops attempted to take the American position with a final attack, however, this failed because the supply of fuel was cut off. The Germans had tried to get the necessary ammunition into the woods around the "Karelshaff" by means of children's carriages and ox-drawn wagons, but this was quickly undercut by the US troops. If the Germans had taken the "Karelshaff", the farm would most likely have been bombed by the Allies. The farm was thus spared from bombing. However, on 24 December 1944, the US forces celebrated Christmas in the farm's barn. While preparing turkeys, an uncontrolled fire broke out and severely damaged the left side of the farm. The roof of the barn burned to the ground, with the US troops mourning the burnt turkeys more than the destroyed barn.  

Geschichte: Willkommen
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