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Clara von Krüger

Get to know the founder of the orphanage

Clara Vohwinkel was born on 8th February 1871 in Gelsenkirchen. Her father Friedrich was a manufacturer. Although they were middle-class, he belonged to the so-called “old money” of the Ruhr.

In June 1883 Friedrich Vohwinkel bought Schloss Eller in Dusseldorf – an over 550 year old moated castle. This not only documented his wealth, but also meant moving into a befitting and prestigious living environment.

For large hunting parties and receptions that took place at Schloss Eller, the presence of Clara was essential. The aim was to make an advantageous match when Clara had barely reached a marriageable age. Due to the lush dowry their prospects were anything but poor. That she someday, as hoped for by the parents, would marry into the (impoverished) aristocracy, did not seem unrealistic. The gamble paid off, when eleven years senior privy councillor, Hermann von Krueger, led the then underage Clara to the altar. He was “only” a baron, but still.

However, the two did not find any common ground and they separated, at least spatially from one another, before her twentieth birthday. On paper, the marriage continued until the death of Hermann, who died on 2nd April, 1940 after a long illness in Eller. The fact that their marriage bore no children may have been the actual impetus for the direction in which the Baroness Kruger finally followed. She devoted herself to “welfare pupils” took them in as foster children and provided for their education and training.

The girls grew up in Eller and the boys found a new home in Wermelskirchen-Süppelbach. There Baroness Kruger bought two farms from two feuding farmers. Between 1911 and 1914 she had built not only the children’s home, but several houses and accommodation for gardeners, the asset manager, chauffeur and the teachers. All foster children were brought up “strictly and modestly”.

Not much is known about the personality of Clara von Krüger who came to Süppelbach before the 1st World War and lived there until her death on 18th February, 1954. For Süppelbacher folks who were not in her services, she remained a mysterious stranger in her lifetime, always entrenched behind the walls of her stately villa.