My pleasure, yes, and our ancestors’, a Bishop (worldly Princes they were), who built it so many years ago for his pleasure. The world must have been a more delightful place, then.
Miraculously it escaped the bombings. The place where I was born, in the attic. Then, occupied by the American forces. The good Colonel fell in love with it. Lucky me, the only baby in 1946 who was well fed. Mother had something of the wisdom of Madame de Maintenon, who faced with the prospect of an untenable situation said: ‘Messieurs, since we are fated to be together, let it be as pleasant as possible?’
A little magical world in a world that was anything but. Small, this only added to its charm, and neglected. The fruit trees and large vegetable garden proved to be life saving during the war years. Then, also, teaming with refugees from Eastern Europe. Grandfather adopted Rittmeister Kasimirov’s family, which presented me with my first lifelong friend, Larissa. Her sensibilities, like my grandfathers, tuned to the arts. Here, she trained her eye to see and grow to become an art restorer of exceptional talent. Nothing was contrived or collected with the intent to impress. No museum like order or display. You just lived there. The beauty of Monplaisir was used every day.
I could sit for hours on the terrace and dream. Contemplating the lovely curve of the well used shallow stairs that led to the park. You never noticed that you climbed these stairs. The view of the hills planted with vines. Deep below the Rhine. The smell of old fashioned blooming flowers with names long forgotten.
Live in Monplaisir was the ‘bearable lightness of being’. Free of the ambition to play a role, no strenuous seeking of power. Just the release of self, an ending. The liquidation of a position in the world, which was no longer feasible. We knew it, and did not protest. You enjoyed the days and their many pleasures without bitterness and resentment. Life lived alongside the New Live.
Monplaisir was part of that Germany I loved in spite of its darkest hour, which made it almost impossible to do so. This is why I return from time to time. You cannot buy it, conquer it or least of all, earn it. Like all beautiful things in life, it is a gift, a favor, a chance that fell into my lab something I was born into, and its final greatest gift to me; it was my last impression of Germany before I embarked on my life’s journey.