In the 30ties of the last century the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and her daughter Princess Juliana, later Queen of the Netherlands, came to present-day Polish territories for informal visits.
It is interesting that both visits were connected with a marriage of Princess Juliana. The successor to the throne of the Netherlands, Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina of Orange-Nassau, was born on April 30, 1909 and in the late 30ties.
It was the “high time” to find her a husband, whom Queen Wilhelmina was looking for among German aristocracy.
Queen Wilhelmina (1942)
Her choice fell on representatives of the families of Reuss and Saksen-Weimar, so she decided to visit them in Lower Silesia, under the pretext of staying in the beautifully situated holiday chalet Andreasbaude (presently – Andrzejówka), near Waldenberg (now Wałbrzych). This part of today’s Poland belonged at that time to Germany.
It was in February 1936. Wilhelmina and Juliana came to Andreasbaude straight from the Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The hostel was quite new, as it was built only 3 years before at the initiative of Andreas Bock, president of the tourist association (this is why the name of the object derives from his name). Located in the Stone Mountains, at the foot of Waligora Mountain (936 m), on the Three Valleys Pass (810 m), the chalet was in the 30ties the most modern facility of its kind in Sudetia, equipped with telephone, electricity and watertoilets. A perfect place for hiking and skiing, located near Görbersdorf (Sokołowsko), which had a ski jump and downhill slopes.
Wilhelmina and Juliana stayed there for two weeks (February 14-28, 1936) and during this time the shelter was not available to other tourists. The meals were prepared by the cook from the Netherlands. Only a few details of this visit has been preserved in human memory, with the notes of one of the court ladies, pointing out that the Dutch visitors had to stay in rather small rooms. The pre-war climate of the shelter is reminded today by preserved wooden ceilings decorated with some sculpture, and wooden chandeliers. The area was (and still is) very beautiful, but the martial aspect of the expedition did not go well. Although visits to the premises of potential grooms – at Reuss residence in Standsdorf (Staniszów) and at Saksen-Weimar residence in Heinirchau (Henryków) – the Dutch Queen didn’t find there desired candidates. But after only one year Juliana was already married. Her husband was the German Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, whom both ladies got to know in Garmisch on February 11, 1936, just before coming to the Andreasbaude. Photo: Bride and groom, September 1936.
The duke’s past is related to other Polish clues. His great-grandfather Ernest, Count zur Lippe-Biesterfeld, married in 1803 a Polish noblewoman Modesta von Unruh. This is not a Polish family name, as von Unruh ancestors come from Franconia and arrived to Poland in the 13th century. Gradually, however, became polonized and even received Polish nobility. The mother of the Prince, Princess Armgard von Cramm, had a manor in Wojnowo near Zielona Gora (formerly Reckenwalde), where Bernhard spent his childhood, attending to a school in Sulechów (now the State Higher Vocational School). Its graduate was also Physicist Otto Stern, a future laureate of the Nobel prize (1940).
Their honeymoon Juliana and Bernhard, traveling incognito as a Count and Countess von Sternberg, started in Poland, where they came in the deepest – as they thought – secrecy. Initially nobody knew where the newlyweds were gone, to deceive people their luggage was even sent to Scotland! May be this choice was influenced by Prince Bernhard’s liking of the Poles – he always insisted that he had many friends among them. Shy and living in the shadow of her despotic mother, Juliana certainly did not regret this decision, because staying in Poland may be classified as one of the most enjoyable events in her life.
The first place to stay became Krynica, a popular mountain resort, famous not only for a scenic landscape, but also for its medicinal waters. In numerous sanatoria many diseases are cured there, like the upper respiratory tract, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, urinary, diabetes, women’s diseases and rheumatism. Prewar Krynica with its wooden houses, quiet slopes and improbable tinkling bells of horse-drawn sleighs was a favorite vacation spot of the political and artistic elite. It was also a perfect romantic place for newlyweds. Among those old wooden houses a new modern and luxury hotel was built (for $ 3 million) by Jan Kiepura, a Polish opera singer and movie star of international fame, who did not know however, Prince Bernhard personally and was highly surprised by his choice.
Here is the description of the hotel written in 1937 by The Guardian journalist: “Patria is an example of the most sophisticated, luxurious and modern hotel in architecture and engineering. Downstairs, everything is in pink marble: the hall, the dining room, the ballroom – make visitors wonder whether they arrived to a fairytale palace. There are five-o clock teas, gala soirées, a romantic cocktail bar, and a jazz band until late at night… Patria actually detonates in Krynica. It’s actually: »Paris in the Polish desolation«”.
The “Count and Countess von Sternberg” arrived there on January 9, 1937. Learning of this, Kiepura immediately arrived from Paris with his wife, the famous singer Martha Eggert. All of them were joined by the aristocratic friends of Prince Bernhard. On the photo: Jan Kiepura and Martha Eggert.
Originally the royal couple planned to stay there for a few days only but was amused themselves so well that their visit finally lasted a month. By day they were busy with skiing, hunting and sleigh rides were held, also for sightseeing (including the Jaworzyna Mountain – its shelter still remembers this honor), or simply strolling the resort and drinking the healing water.
Krynica residents believe that thanks to those curative waters Princess Beatrix was born such a robust baby. Evenings were devoted to balls and concerts. During her stay in Patria hotel the Dutch couple did not shunned from other guests, having meals together with them in the restaurant (guests were however asked not to impose to the royal couple). Their favorite pastimes were tangling pranks, such as replacing guests’ shoes standing in the hallway. All details of Juliana and Bernhard visit were reported by Dutch newspapers extensively, much to the disappointment of princess, who wanted anonymity. The news from Poland aroused harsh disapproval of Queen Wilhelmina, who believed that such behavior was not fitting for the future queen and she even planned to come to Cracow. During their Polish honeymoon the princely couple also visited another mountain resort, a town of Zakopane and Cracow.
From there Juliana and Bernhard traveled to Budapest, Austria, Italy and France, ending their journey after three months in Paris.
Read also: The royal cradle
Strolling through the streets of Krynica Juliana and Bernhard probably had to pass an inconspicuous, poorly dressed man with a mumbling speech, who tried to sell to people his pictures presenting Krynica landscapes, painted on what he could lay hand on– pieces of cardboard, covers of notebooks, scraps of paper of all kinds. The physically handicapped artist of Lemke origin, called Nikifor Krynicki, was one of the greatest 20th century primitivists. His paintings have been exhibited in many galleries worldwide, including Amsterdam.
Nikifor Krynicki, Church Square, aquarel
A scene from the movie “Mój Nikifor” (My Nikifor) introducing Nikifor (in this role – an actress Krystyna Feldman)
Published: August 2, 2012
Photo: fotopolska.eu, national Archief, Ronet.pl, artyzm.com, Wikipedia, public domain