Goethe Foundation (Goethestiftung)

from Life of Baroness von Marenholtz-Buelow, by her niece the Baroness von Buelow

Froebel, von Marenholtz-Buelow, Liszt, Diesterweg

Diesterweg (one of Froebel's disciples) received one day a pamphlet from Berlin, concerning the projected "Goethestiftung" (Goethe Foundation), and my aunt (i.e. Bertha von Marenholtz-Buelow, nee von Buelow) proposed that his should be an "educational institution for geniuses," for the development of their talents. The Princes were won over to the plan. It was to be an educational institute for children who had shown artistic talent in a kindergarten connected with it. Diesterweg wrote a little pamphlet,"Goethestiftung" and my aunt "An Appeal," but at the end of August when my aunt and Diesterweg came to Weimar in obedience to the invitation of the Weimar court for the 100th anniversary of Goethe's birthday, Franz Liszt's influence had put a stop to their projects. My aunt fought with him in vain at the Castle of Ettersburg, belonging to the Hereditary Grand Duke. Liszt used to say laughing:" No support can be given to the genius in swaddling clothes."

"Only later," my aunt said, "could I convince Liszt of the importance of Froebel's method and then he promised me to compose some songs for the kindergarten, a promise that he, alas, never fulfilled." My aunt used to say laughingly," Oh Liszt still owes me something for the "cause." But they were great friends and my aunt remembered with delight the evenings at the grand duchesse's, when Liszt improvised on "Dante's Hell" for instance.

The grand duchesse, a sister of the Emperor Nicholas of Russia, was very gracious to my aunt, who had to sit w ith her for hours, working on a large carpet for the Emperor. She showed my aunt the remains of the splendid and valuable trousseau, which the Russian grand princesses always receive.

Among the guests at the Baths (of Liebenstein where Froebel's institute was housed at the hunting castle of Marienthal.) was the unfortunate Duchesse Helene of Orleans, the wife of the French successor to the throne, who, even then widowed and exiled, was staying at Liebenstein for the summer with her two little boys, the Duke of Orleans and the Duke of Chartres. They lived in a modest way and my aunt remembered how the Duchess (a Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin) called from the window to the little princes:

"Oh, children, do think of your white trousers, you know you will not get any clean ones before Saturday." The Prince of Orleans, once upon being asked by a lady-"You are glad, Monseigneur, that your tutor is coming back (i.e Froebel)?" answered in a way old for his age: "oh certainly, Madame, exceedingly! He knows my character best."

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