Family | Friedrich Christoph Ernst von Witzleben

Friedrich Christoph Ernst von Witzleben
Friedrich Christoph Ernst von Witzleben, Knight of St. John, Owner of the Manor at Hude and Elmeloh, was born on the 22nd of September, 1848, as a son of the chamberlain, Adam Friedrich Ernst von Witzleben, of Hude.  

Friedrich Ernst was the eldest son of the family and first-in-line of primogeniture and thus, all assets and property located in the possession of his father. He spent his youth in various schools while training vocationally. This training prepared him for subsequent management of his father's assets at Elmeloh and Hude. Friedrich Ernst served the Grand Duke of Oldenburg first as Hofjunker (squire) and later as Hofjägermeister (master huntsman). He was, like his father, renowned for his hospitality-- (his father, Adam Ernst, had was nicknamed ‘Uncle Hude’ by the community).    

He managed the estate Elmeloh after the death of his father, Adam Friedrich Ernst, and in 1875 moved into the manor at Hude. He managed the estate, spanning approximately 2000 Morgens (a Prussian unit of measure similar to the modern hectare) with great passion. He maintained residency at Hude for over 56 years and was renowned for his extraordinary kindness.  

During his winter walks in his park, he enjoyed watching as the local schoolchildren skated across the frozen ponds, and was known for his readiness for thoughtful conversation. He was revered and appreciated by everyone in Hude, and was glad to labor alongside the staff and servants of the estate.  

On the 15th of May, 1873, he married Bertha Hermine Dorothea Adelheid, Baroness von Rössing. She was born on March 6th, 1844, in Rössing at the Rössinger Castle and dates itself within the same lineage. The castle is a two-leaf Rössinger-Weserrenaissance timber-framed building situated on an island park.  

The marriage with Adelheid remained childless and the two parted after just a few years. Two generations before him was comprised of 11 children, and the next of eight, of whom there were four sons. The last bore only a single heir. In order to acquire an heir for the estate at Hude, he adopted the son of his brother, Heinrich Friedrich August von Witzleben and his wife Anna von Lilienthal, his nephew, Prof. Dr. Heinz-Detlef Ernst Ludwig von Witzleben (*1896 - †1994). The nephew is also notable as the last of the Liebensteiner line of Gut Hude.  

It should be noted that the last three men of Hude and Elmeloh were known all by the nickname Ernst. In order to distinguish them, they would have also used their first names: Christoph Ernst (*1751 - †1813), Adam Ernst (*1810 - †1874), and Ernst Friedrich (*1848 - †1931).
Friedrich Christoph Ernst von Witzleben
Friedrich Christoph Ernst von Witzleben of Liebenstein, Lord at Hude and Elmeloh, died in 1931. However, even at his passing he remained in the same gentle humor for which he was known. It is said that he tripped over a stone while walking in Reiherholz, and remarked humorously that the rock should be his grave stone. This stone was part of large boulder and was transported with the help of many Huder men and oxen for the family cemetery and today identifies the point at which he stumbled.  

His funeral was noted according to the Hude newspaper in his obituary:

Six foresters and six members of the Hude Riding Club alternately bore his coffin. His cherished relatives as well as His Royal Highness the Grand Duke Nicholas of Oldenburg and his wife, Her Highness Princess Ingeborg of Schaumburg-Lippe, His Highness Prince Stephan von Schaumburg-Lippe, Her Highness Frau von Hedemann, and her husband were also in attendance. Additionally in attendance was Lord General of Wallenberg, a delegation of officers of the former Dragonerregim No. 19, a delegation of Knights and the Officer Corps of Infantry Regiment No. 16, as well as a delegation of the Oldenburg Hunting and Equestrian Club.  

Moreover, all clubs of Hude appeared to pay the departed their last respects. The members of the following associations formed the rows of spectators:  

The riding club, the mens’ choir, the Veterans' Association, all area shooting clubs (especially the Huder shooting Club and the Club of the Stahlhelm), the railway men and gymnastics clubs, all whilst the Huder band played processional music, accompanied by Huder mens’ choir at interment.  

Even today, the family owes all of these clubs a great thanks. He was accompanied by loved, revered and esteemed members of the Hude community on his last journey.  

In the newspaper, the procession was described with the following words: "...[there] is no one who is not with bitter-sadness mourning in his heart as our Lord Baron traveled home. ... [An] honorable personality of our town has passed away. "      

Note: If you have any written material or stories about Baron Friedrich Christoph Ernst von Witzleben, we invite you whole-heartedly to share in the building of our archives.

Text: M.Sc. Greta von Witzleben