An exhibition organised by SFPM in cooperation with the Cottbus Municipal Collections in the Stables, the Visitor Centre and Branitz Park from May to October 2020

Gräfin Theodora und Graf August von Pückler mit Familie
auf der Schlossterrasse, Fotografie um 1930

The land reform of 1945 was the beginning of the reorganisation of ownership after the war in East Germany. Under the slogan Junkerland in Bauernhand (Privateland in farmers’ hands), large estates over 100 hectares were expropriated. This also affected the Pückler family in Branitz, whose land, park and Palace were transferred into the property of the city of Cottbus. The members of the noble family were expelled, and the collections of the Palace were pillaged.

Mitglieder der Kommission der Bodenreform
auf der Schlossterrasse, Fotografie Herbst 1945

At the request of the Soviet commander in charge, the park area was to be opened for new settlements. Due to the persistence of the locals, especially the former forestry officer Ernst Kluge, these plans were prevented. The three Cottbus museum buildings lay in ruins in 1945. Therefore, the request of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) and the provincial government of Brandenburg to reopen the museums as quickly as possible could not be followed. The ‘empty’ Branitz Palace came in very handy. On 30 July 1947 it opened its doors for the first time as a museum.

Return after 75 years

Carl Blechen: Aus dem Apennin,
Gemälde von 1829 (1915 für die
Cottbuser Sammlung erworben)

From 1947, Branitz Palace had housed the municipal Carl-Blechen collection, or rather the two thirds that remained of it. After the restoration of the works, the first Blechen exhibition was presented in the Palace in 1955.

Based on impressive objects and documents, the history of escape, expulsion, plundering and reconstruction, which continues to this day, is told for the first time. Also for the first time, items which disappeared during the war, and have been returned to Branitz Palace in recent years, are on display.

The exhibition is supported by Kulturland Brandenburg as part of the initiative WAR and PEACE. 1945 and the consequences in Brandenburg.