A monastery turns into a boys‘ school

Around 1140 Count Ludwig von Wippra and his wife Mechthilde founded a monastery at the west end of the village Rostenleba, today’s Roßleben. On February 22nd in 1142 the monastery received a certificate of approval by the Pope Inno zenz II and on February 24th in 1174 the writ of protection from the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. Resulting from the war of Thuringian counts (1341-45) the rural comital court judge Kristan von Witzleben received the castle Wendelstein as a heritable fief in 1355. Thereby the bailiwick was connected on the monastery.    In the course of the reformation the monastery was renounced around 1540. In 1554 the honorary chairman, knight and doctor of canon and civil law Heinrich von Witzleben founded a boys‘ school for initially 60 students with the support of Georg Fabricius in the former monastary. Just in Martin Luther’s sense it was meant to be a “school for all the competent”, regardless of the social origin of their students.

Destruction and Reconstruction

The Thirty Years‘ War had severe consequences for the school. Between 1554 and 1639 1435 students had already attended the school. Because of the horrible war incidents such as scavengings by Swedish as well as imperial troops, plagues and pillages the school had to be closed in 1639. The population of Roßleben shrunk to 100 (1642) from 2100 (1620). On Good Friday in 1686 Roßleben was victimized by a blaze which also destroyed the school. From 1727 until 1742 the school building of today was established. The plan was constructed by the electoral building inspector J. H. Lobenstein who also led the construction. A unique baroque building with a natural insightful frontage and a palatial appearance originated. Specifically developed for the needs of the running of a school, today the Klosterschule Roßleben is one of the oldest used school buildings in Germany.

The Klosterschule in the „Third Reich“

The moral concepts applied at the school lead to a critical attitude towards National Socialism from the majority of students and teachers. In 1942 Dr. Wolf-Dietrich von Witzleben became heritage administrator of the foundation “ Stiftung Klosterschule Roßleben”. All of his efforts were directed towards defending the school which was entrusted to him with its unique character and humanistic tradition from the claim to power of the NS state. Several former students joined the resistance against the NS-Regime. Five graduates of the Klosterschule Roßleben and one member of the foundation family were arrested and killed in Berlin-Plötzensee because of their involvement in the assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20th in 1944.

The time of the Soviet occupation

After the end of war the Soviet occupying power arrested 17 students, five teachers and the care taker of the Klosterschule Roßleben because they were denounced as alleged “werewolves”. Two teachers and the care taker were shot, two further teachers and three students died because of the prison conditions in the internment camps Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen.
Several students were abducted to Siberia, the last one didn’t return until 1955. The foundation was expropriated in by the Soviet occupying power in 1948 and operated with an interim constitution from Munich as of 1955. The nationalized school was carried on as a rural home school at first, later as a grammar school (EOS) named “Goethe-Schule”.

The restoration after the German reunion

After the German reunion the foundation bought back the school ground with all its buildings under the lead of the manager at that time, Friedrich-Karl von Witzleben. Because of a license agreement with the then Administrative District Artern, an entire restoration of the school took place as of 1992 with a capital expenditure of around about 11 million Euros. In May 1993 the running of the school was re-established. The school received the name ,,Staatliches Gymnasium Klosterschule Roßleben“ (public grammar school Klosterschule Roßleben) and remained operated for the time being by the Administrative District. The foundation was the owner of the school grounds and the provider of the boarding school.

Gymnasium and boarding school consolidated

19 years after the German reunion the boarding school and the grammar school became a pedagogical unit again. On December 18th 2008 the head of the district authority of the administrative district Kyffhäuser and the manager of the foundation “ Stiftung Klosterschule Roßleben” signed a contract that ended the nationalization. With the decision of the Thuringia Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs on June 6th 2009 the Klosterschule Roßleben turned into a state-approved independently organized private school.

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