History of the Donnersmarck family

Nakło Śląskie (German: Naklo) is a village mentioned already in documents from the 14th century. Since the end of the 17th century the estate belonged to the Henckel von Donnersmarck family for the next 250 years. It was one of the richest aristocratic families in Silesia. Members of one of the family lines founded the palace in Naklo and made it their home for nearly 90 years.
The foundation of the local palace is strictly connected with one of the richest Silesian magnates – Hugo I, Count from Siemianowitz (Siemianowice).

The Industrial Magnate

Count Hugo is not as well-known and famous as his cousin, Guido, Prince from Neudeck (Świerklaniec), though his fortune might have been equal or even larger than Guido’s. He inherited the manor in 1813 as a two-year-old boy, whose father was killed in the Napoleonic wars. Having reached maturity in 1832, he started managing the property until his death in 1890. In the economic history of Upper Silesia it is a significant and very long period. At that time the coal exploitation in Hugo’s coal mines increased 150 times and the value of the output more than 250 times. Despite the technical progress and the use of modern methods of production, the number of workers in his factories increased almost 90 times.
The building in Naklo started in the first half of the 19th century. Presumably, the authors of the project in the so-called English Tudor style were Viennese architects, Johann Romano and August Schwendenwein. Previously, they had reconstructed a large castle in Wolfsberg, Carinthia, which was Count Hugo’s main residence. The palace in Naklo was supposed to be his summer residence.


The palace before 1945 r.

Hugo I Henckel von Donnersmarck













Laura and Laura

On the palace facade there are two coats of arms, which belonged to Count Hugo I and his second wife, Laura von Kaszonyi. The count’s first wife was Laura von Hardenberg; they had four sons and a daughter, but she died in 1857. Hugo remarried a year later. Laura nr 2 was not only much younger than her husband, but also younger than his elder sons, Hugo II and Lazarus IV. She was the same age as the count’s third son, Arthur, b.1836. For his first wife Hugo bought the Wolfsberg castle in Carinthia. For his second wife he bought the palace in Stein (Kamień) near Breslau (Wrocław) and then in Rusovce near Bratislava. He also built for her a magnificent palace in Vienna, near the representative Ring. It is possible that the palace in Naklo was a gift for his new wife, too. In the Almanach de Gotha it is Laura who is mentioned as the Lady of Rusovce and Naklo.

Laura von Kaszonyi

Laura von Hardenberg




The Descendants

After Hugo’s death the palace in Naklo was rebuilt and its tower was raised. This decision was probably taken by Lazarus IV, who previously had lived in Romolkwitz (Ramułtowice) near Breslau (Wrocław). However, the Almanach gives the name of Laura as the lady of Naklo at that time until her death in 1905. She was buried with her husband in the Wolfsberg mausoleum. Hugo’s sons, who disliked their stepmother, decided to get rid of the inherited palace in Vienna and sold it to Count von Mir and the Rusovce estate to a Belgian princess, Stephanie von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha (the famous Archduke Rudolf Habsburg’s widow).
Although the palace in Naklo officially belonged to Laura, it was not sold because Lazarus IV, the founder of the Naklo Henckel von Donnersmarck line was still living there.
The brothers: Hugo II, Lazarus IV and Arthur were managing their heritage together, but each of them chose a different residence to live in. Hugo I left a really considerable fortune. Its part located in Germany was estimated at 72 million marks (today approx. 4 – 5 billion euro) in 1912.

Hugo II, Lazarus IV and Artur Henckel von Donnersmarck

From Lazarus IV to Lazarus V

The palace in Naklo became the home of Count Lazarus IV. In 1892 he initiated the construction of the parish church in Naklo. The ancestral mausoleum and the orphanage under protection of Countess Maria were founded nearby. The orphanage has been managed since then by St.Borromeus Sisters of Mercy, other Count’s orphanages worked in Neu Radzionkau (Rojca) and Radzionkau (Radzionków). Lazarus IV also sponsored the construction of the church in Alt Tarnowitz (Stare Tarnowice) and the Camillian monastery in Tarnowitz (Tarnowskie Góry). His son, Count Edwin sold part of the land in New Radzionkau (Rojca) in 1919 to raise money and build houses for his employees. After 1921 Naklo became a part of the Second Republic of Poland. The Naklo line was called “Polish” in the family. Count Edwin on behalf of German Catholics declared loyalty to the Polish bishop of Katowice, August Hlond (the latter Polish primate). The Henckels still have their ancestral correspondence with Wojciech Korfanty. Count Lazarus V was a patron of Polish Books’ Week held in his mines as well as Polish choirs and amateur performances in his estates.

The Post-war Years

In 1945 the Henckels lost their Silesian estates. However, they did not accept German citizenship and used their Polish prewar passports which were legalized in London by August Zaleski, the Polish President in exile. Lazarus V was handed a certificate confirming that the members of the family were loyal citizens of the Second Republic of Poland, yet of German nationality.  In 1958 Lazarus V’s son, Charles Joseph married Princess Mary Adelaide, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Charlotta de Nassau’s daughter. In the several century-long history of the Henckel von Donnersmarck family it was the most successful and ennobling marriage. After the wedding, the young Count and his family lived in Luxembourg, then Switzerland. 


At present the main residence of the Henckels from Naklo is the Wolfsberg castle in Carinthia. Charles Joseph’s son, Count Andrew married Joanna, Princess von Hohenberg, a great-granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Habsburg; they have four children. The family name became famous again in 2007 when Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck received the Oscar award for his film “The Lives of Others”.

The Aristocrats’ Visits

After World War II, the Naklo family members visited the palace in Nakło Śląskie several times. Rev. Gregor O’Cist , Count Edwin’s grandson visited the palace twenty five years ago, when the building was quite devastated and did not make a good impression. In 2004 Count Andrew and his wife Joanna visited the palace in Nakło Śląskie. In September 2014, Rev. Gregor O’Cist visited again the renovated palace functioning as the Silesian Culture Centre.

Opat Gregor Henckel-Donnersmarck and Dr Arkadiusz Kuzio-Podrucki

Another important visit took place on May 15, 2015, when more than twenty members of the family appeared in Nakło Śląskie, including Prince Guidotto (the Neudeck line), Count Winfried and Count Andrew. It was a special tour of the family representatives to their old mansions in order to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Henckel von Donnersmarck family. They attended the opening of the exhibition “The Silesian Nobility – between Silesia and Europe.” The palace in its current state and activity of the Silesian Culture Centre were the source of real joy and satisfaction, especially to Count Winfried who was born here in 1938.

April 10, 2017 The palace was visited by count Bartholomäus von Khevenhüller-Metsch, son of countess Wilhelmina Henckel von Donnersmarck and grandson of count Lazarus and Countess Franciszka, the last owners of the palace in Nakło Śląskie. Count Bartholomäus was accompanied by his wife Doña Cristina Sánchez de Movellán and four children: Countess Clara, Countess Gabriela, Count Andreas and Count Philipp. It was the first visit of Count Bartholomäus to the headquarters of the ancestors. The palace made a very positive impression on visitors from Austria.


From right: Doña Cristina, Count Bartholomäus, director Stanisław Zając and Countess Clara, Gabriela, and Counts Andreas and Philipp

On 13 September 2017 the palace was visited by members of the Henckel von Donnersmarck family from the brynkowsko-krowiarska line: Theresia Countess von Mentzingen (daughter and granddaughter Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck, her mother was countess Wilhelmina), Anne Sophie Magarethe Countess von Henckel-Gaschin von Donnersmarck (came all the way from Brazil) and Levin count Wolff Metternich zur Gracht (son of Wilhelmina countess of the Empire of Wolff Metternich zur Gracht, née Countess of the Empire Henckel von Donnersmarck). This was the second visit of Count Levin, who had once appeared in the palace together with the count Andreas Henckel von Donnersmarck on May 15, 2015.

From left: historian Arkadiusz Kuzio-Podrucki, Anne Sophie Magarethe Countess von Henckel-Gaschin von Donnersmarck, Theresia Countess von Mentzingen, Levin Count Wolff Metternich zur Gracht, direktor Stanisław Zając; photo Magdalena Zaton


On June 11, 2018, Count Hans Ulrich Schaffgotsch came to the palace. He is a grandson of countess Zofia Henckel von Donnersmarck, sister of count Lazarus V, the last owner of the palace in Nakło Śląskie. Count Hans Ulrich was in Tarnowskie Góry on the occasion of Industriada.


Count Hans Ulrich Schaffgotsch oraz Dr Arkadiusz Kuzio-Podrucki (on left)

On Sunday, November 11, 2018, the Silesian Culture Center was visited by a group of members of the von Schaffgotsch family together with representatives of other aristocratic families. An opportunity to do this was their visit to Kopice commemorating the 160th wedding anniversary of Joanna Gryzik von Schomberg-Godula with Count Hans Ulrich Schaffgotsch (November 14-15, 1858). Schaffgotsch and Henckel von Donnersmarcks from Naklo are related due to the marriage of countess Zofia Henckel von Donnersmarck, daughter of Count Edwin, with Count Hans Ulryk Schaffgotsch. The visit was attended by: priest Rudolf, Count Schaffgotsch, Carlos Federico, Count Schaffgotsch, Hans Ulrich Count Schaffgotsch, Hieronymus Prince Clary und Aldringen, Maria Teresa Countess Schaffgotsch (born countess Thun und Hohenstein), Alexander Count Schaffgotsch (son of Hans Ulrich), Hans Michael Jebsen, Sofie Countess von und zu Eltz (born Countess Schaffgotsch), Christian Earl Clary und Aldringen, Marie Countess Clary (born Countess Szapáry de Muraszombath), Desiree Jebsen (born Countess Schaffgotsch), Ulrich Count Arco-Zinneberg, Therese Countess Arco -Zinneberg (born von Pfotten Pfetten).


Zdjęcia: Wikipedia, Renata Głuszek, Magdalena Zaton