Ahrenshoop: The mystery of the million dollar ruin


A black scar gapes in the idyllic, picturesque artist colony of Ahrenshoop on the Baltic Sea. The 18th-century thatched “Kleinhempel House” was burned down. arson! This was preceded by a year-long dispute over monument protection, investors, demolition and new construction plans…

Days after the devastating attack at the end of January, which fortunately no one was injured in, the pottery path in Ahrenshoop (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) smells of burnt. The roof structure of the once beautiful building: collapsed. Charred roof beams soar into the sky, police tape flaps in the wind.


Only a sad ruin is left of the

Only a sad ruin is left of the “Kleinhempel House”Photo: Stefan Tretropp

Fire brigade operations manager Kay Mittelbach (47) looks at the ruins and speaks of great luck. “The fire just 24 hours later, in the middle of the storm, would have been a huge catastrophe,” he says, looking at the narrow development with other thatched roof houses nearby.

84 firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading through their nightly deployment. The damage is still enormous, could be around a million euros. The historical loss: immeasurable!


Fire brigade operations manager Kay Mittelbach (47)

Fire brigade operations manager Kay Mittelbach (47)Photo: Stefan Tretropp

The more than 200-year-old house was named after the illustrator and designer Gertrud Kleinhempel († 1948) from Leipzig, who lived in it for the last ten years of her life.

Together with many other artists, she shaped the place, whose thatched houses, galleries and picturesque location by the sea are loved by tourists and the 700 inhabitants alike to this day.


Only a sad ruin is left of the

The Leipzig-born draftswoman and designer Gertrud Kleinhempel (1875-1948) lived in the house for the last ten years of her lifePhoto: Source: foerderkreis-ahrenshoop.


A support group fought for the preservation of the house, which was built in the 18th century

A support group fought for the preservation of the house, which was built in the 18th centuryPhoto: Source: foerderkreis-ahrenshoop

Whether in the “Kunstkaten” gallery, the “Bunte Stube” art shop popular with tourists or in many local studios – the fire drama surrounding the “Kleinhempel-Haus” is now the number one topic of conversation. “This story is particularly sad, it’s clearly a warm summary,” says Andreas Wegscheider from the “Bunte Stube”.

Because: The house had been empty for years, but a support group fought to keep it. Authorities repeatedly refused to place the house under monument protection.

A Rostock investor bought the building in 2018 for 600,000 euros and wanted to tear it down to build holiday apartments. The Ahrenshoopers were up in arms – no building permit was granted. The house changed hands, a private individual from Berlin bought it and wanted to keep it. But apparently the condition of the building was now too bad.

Again the house was put up for sale. For 1.65 million euros. But until the devastating fire, there were no new interested parties.


Ahrenshoop: The mystery of the million dollar ruin
Photo: BILD

“We are investigating at full speed,” says Jennifer Fischer from the Stralsund police and adds: “In the coming weeks, measures should be taken.” What that means remains unclear. The fact is: there has been a fire at the “Kleinhempel-Haus” several times in recent years. A tree and rubbish were set on fire in front of the garage.

And: Many are likely to be interested in the almost 1,000 square meter property – with land prices of 860 euros per square meter.

Hans Götze (73), ex-mayor of Ahrenshoop, is dismayed and only wants one thing: “A quick demolition of the ruins and then a typical regional structure.”


Hans Götze (73), former mayor

Hans Götze (73), former mayor of AhrenshoopPhoto: Stefan Tretropp

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