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In the Footsteps of History
Celebrities in the Region
Renowned Native Citizens
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Renowned Native Citizens 

In our region you can find many places where, somebody cried out for the first time, in a midwife’s hands; and whose hometown or home-village was later proud of proclaiming: “He was born in our town/village!” And in the places where no renowned countryman was born, they can at least boast of a celebrity that became fond of an area in our region and spent a considerable part of his/her life there.

Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad) – Václav Skalník

Václav SkalníkWhen little Václav Skalník smelled the roses in the Lobkowicz princely garden in Malá Strana (Lesser Town) of Prague and watched his father turn a classical French park into a natural English form, he surely did not anticipate that it would be he himself who will model, with ingenious taste and sense of landscape, a unique park town – Mariánské Lázně – in a rocky and marshy ground. He started his unique work in Mariánské Lázně in 1817. During his first visit to Mariánské Lázně in 1820 Goethe himself expressed appreciation of Skalník´s imagination and, at the same time, his pragmatism in cultivation of the rugged valley. In 1824 Reitenberger, the abbot of the monastery in Teplá, appointed the reputable dendrologist and botanist Václav Skalník as the Mayor of Mariánské Lázně. The active correspondence between both men bears witness of their deep friendship, which was very useful for Mariánské Lázně. The current appearance of the town grew during more than forty years thanks to their cooperation. On top of that, acting as the Mayor, Skalník managed the town and a hospital for the poor. After his death in 1861 the management of the city parks was taken over by his son Karel Skalník. However, up to this day the park complex in Mariánské Lázně bears the distinctive signature of the man who understood landscape and could reshape it naturally and ostentatiously at the same time.

Krásno (Schönfeld) – Josef Labitzký

Josef LabitzkýIn the summer of 1802 Josef Labitzký, a famous composer and conductor, came into this world in Krásno near Bečov. A year after his birth he moved with his parents to Bečov where the music master Karel Veit taught him to play the viola and piano in his youth. His parents came to the conclusion that it would be more secure if their musically gifted son became a tradesman, and thus Josef Labitzký earned the certificate of a master-shearer from the Bečov Town Council in 1824. However, four years before finishing his apprenticeship the young musician changed the scissors for the bow and acted as a violinist in the spa orchestra of Mariánské Lázně. His musical career continued in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), where he married the Bečov mayor’s daughter in 1824. His four children were also born in Bečov. In 1835 Labitzký began to build the spa orchestra in Karlovy Vary (KSO) which, later led by his son August, became a renowned spa musical body. The stamp of the creativeness of Josef Labitzký as a composer is still imprinted in many of his polkas, gallopades, marches, quadrilles and waltzes, for which he earned the nickname “The Czech Waltz King”. He died in 1881, but his music is still alive.

Jáchymov (Joachimsthal) – Georgius Agricola

Georgius AgricolaThe physician, scientist and philosopher, really named Georg Bauer, was not born in Jáchymov, but was active here in the first half of the 16th century as the town physician. He looked for new medical substances among minerals and ores of the Krušné Hory (Ore Mountains). At that time Jáchymov was the most important European centre of ore mining and Agricola was in permanent contact with experienced miners and metallurgists working in the area with a many-year tradition of mining and mineral processing. He summarized his knowledge of mining, metallurgy and mineralogy in his work Bermannus, sive de re metallica dialogues (Bergamus – Dissertation on Mining). The top of his scientific activity was the De re metallica libri XII (Twelve Books on the Nature of Metals and Minerals), in which he classified minerals and metals on the basis of their properties and described mining methods, including the processing of raw materials. As Georgius Agricola spent the majority of his time in the Jáchymov mines and foundries, he also was familiar with the local social conditions. Therefore, he mentioned the situation of the miners and their wages in his work too. His collected works were published in Basel and their printing was supported by his friend and the leading European humanistic scholar Erasmus Rotterdamus. Agricola also contributed to the development of Jáchymov and later founded a miners´ school here, the first one of its kind in the world.

Nejdek (Neudek) – Heinz Kurt Henisch

H.K.HenischNejdek is very proud of its notable native Heinz Kurt Henisch, a professor of physics. At the time when he did not live in Nejdek any more, Henisch himself kept up an active correspondence with his friends from his hometown in the foothills of the Krušné Hory (Ore Mountains). H.K. Henisch was born in 1922 and his childhood and youth spent in the family of a reputable Nejdek lawyer could be described as idyllic. However, Hitler’s ethnic intolerance forced the Henisch family to immigrate to England and the young student could not complete his studies in the grammar school in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). He graduated from the University in Reading, Great Britain, and in 1949 he earned the degree of a professor of physics. In 1963 he accepted an offer to work in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania. There he began to be intensively concerned with the history of photography and thanks to him the local academic institute became the centre of study of the history of photography in the USA. Professor Henisch went on lecture tours in ten countries and visited Bohemia three times. He is the author of eight patents in the field of semiconductor physics. Nejdek town has published three of his autobiographies translated into Czech, in which he remembers even the years he lived in the Nejdek region.

Ostrov (Schlackenwerth) - Josef Kühnl

Josef KühnlThe Ostrov information sources mention Josef Kühnl as the first real Ostrov historiographer. He was born in the now-extinct village of Pastviny near Dolní Lomnice in 1855 and worked as a teacher in Ostrov from 1877. He devoted his life to the study of available literature and historical sources of the Ostrov history. Within the years of 1905-1912 he processed numerous archive materials of the Ostrov territory, deposited at that time in the Ostrov Chateau, and documents found in the town archive. The gathered and duly-verified data became the basis for his book "Geschichte der Stadt Schlackenwerth" (History of Ostrov Town), the first comprehensively and responsibly conceived history of the town. The book describes the history of the town from its very beginning until the middle of the 19th century. It contains photos, picture materials and a bibliography. For his research efforts Josef Kühnl was named an honorary citizen of Ostrov. The Kühnl´s book was issued again in 1976, thanks to the society of former citizens of Ostrov – Heimatverband Schlackenwerth. Its original edition has survived only in a few exemplars.

Aš (Asch) – Gustav Geipel

Gustav GeipelThe benefactor of Aš – that is a frequent title bestowed on Gustav Geipel, an unbelievably generous patron with strong social feelings, who was born in 1853. His grandfather was the founder of the textile factory Christian Geipel & Son, producing elegantly and fashionably patterned cloths not only for the Czech market, but it found trade outlets even abroad. For a certain time Gustav Geipel managed the factory and he successfully opened affiliates in Prague, Brno and Budapest; but at the age of forty-four he decided to devote himself to other activities. Geipel tried to act according to the maxim that "wealth is an obligation“ and his pilgrimage is full of tangible evidences of him observing this motto. He had the Citizens’ Home built in Aš –a temporary housing facility for underprivileged weavers. The Aš Evangelical Church is obliged to him for the procurement of the largest and most beautiful organ in western Bohemia. Geipel donated 200 thousand guldens towards the repair of common streets and squares, and he also donated to the town a plot of land for the construction of a grammar school and adjacent sports grounds. He supported poor schoolchildren, purchased a roentgen for the hospital, and built a sanatorium for lung diseases. He invested into the Aš town budget a total of 6 million guldens, which was staggering at that time. However, the money was confiscated by the State of Austria for the war expenditures. He died in the same year that the World War I began. Ten years later, in 1924, Aš festively unveiled a monument to him.

Valeč (Valtsch) – House of Štampach

Zámek ValečEverybody who will take a look at the list of the owners of the Valeč estate must have the impression that Valeč was a challenge trophy among the aristocrats and the Czech nobles rather than being the possession one owner. Certainly, the House of Štampach left the most significant imprints in the history of Valeč. In 1514 Valeč received the rights of a city. Still after that, it was passed “from hand to hand“ of individual Czech nobles; and in 1570 the estate was purchased by Kryštof Štampach of Štampach. His son Václav rebuilt the Valeč chateau to the late-renaissance style, however, as he participated in the Czech Estate Uprising, he had to escape the country, and in 1622 his property was confiscated. The estate in Valeč was sentenced to devastation by plundering and disrepair. However, a year later good fortune smiled on Valeč in the form of Barbora Štampachová who, as a Catholic, could return to the country, and purchased the estate. From 1694 a grandiose reconstruction was started, initiated by Barbara’s grandson Jan Kryštof Kager. He invited foremost artists and architects of the time to Valeč. The Italian Francesco Barelli became the author of the baroque reconstruction, but its appearance was influenced by many others. The park in the chateau surroundings was embellished with a cascade fountain and sculptures by Matyáš Braun. After Jan Kryštof Kager, Valeč was possessed by the Globen family, and change of owners continued. Of all the Valeč owners, it was the Štampach family that contributed to the development of the chateau and the entire area most of all.

Kraslice (Graslitz) – Josef Johann Anger, Johann David Starck

J.D.StarckWhy does Kraslice have the privilege of introducing two personalities at a time at this place? The first one, Josef Johann Anger, does not belong to the Kraslice natives, but this world-renowned Kraslice ”Trompetenmacher“, producer of mouthpiece instruments, founded a workshop in Kraslice in 1751, which later became one of the foremost manufacturing plants producing musical instruments. Especially the Amati brand became renowned all over the world in the following decades. The local countryman Johann David Starck, a businessman in the textile, chemical, glass industries, was no-less-great, but was not so symbolic for Kraslice. He was born in Kraslice on April Fools´ day in 1770 and soon he tried to trade in wine in the surroundings of Plauen, Saxony. During his early business activities he familiarized himself with lace production that totally captivated him. He started lace production in Kraslice, and having found out that sulphuric acid is needed for lace bleaching, he did not hesitate to start its production in an old foundry in the town of Stříbrná (Silberbach). With his glass, mining and chemical enterprises he became the richest man in the Karlovy Vary Region in 1830. He did business in Dolní Rychnov, Svatava, Habartov and other places of the region. After his death in 1883, the Dolové a průmyslové závody (Mining and Industrial Works), previously called the J.D. Starck Company, were established in Dolní Rychnov.

Boží Dar (Gottesgab) – Anton Günther

Anton GüntherInto a poor, but affectionate Günther family, the son Anton was born in Boží Dar in 1876. As a child he often accompanied his father to the Boží Dar dance parties, where Hans Günther moonlighted as a musician. At that time Anton learned to play the first simple melodies on the violin. Although he originally wanted to be a forest ranger, his father sent his son, showing a talent for art, to learn the trade from a lithographer in Buchholz. Anton Günther was homesick and missed his beloved region of Krušné Hory (Ore Mountains) that he had left unwillingly. Later he worked as a lithographer in Prague, where he managed to inscribe and print one of his songs together with the music and lyrics. Thus the first song picture postcard came to pass, followed by others, and Anton Günther soon managed to provide economically for himself and his brothers and sisters at least for some time. He could go to work as a lithographer to Arhus, Denmark, but his bond with Boží Dar was too strong. He decided to stay and devoted himself entirely to writing songs. He established contacts with the Krušné Hory Society and even sang for Fridrich August, King of Saxony. He sang in public houses, for societies, friends; as well as for school children. He also founded the Foundation for Assistance to Unemployed People in Boží Dar. In 1936 his supporters and friends erected in the square a memorial made of stones from the nearby Špičák (Spitzberg) mountain. Anton Günther died a year later. His immense love for all mountains, valleys, and paths and roads of his country is embedded in his songs.

Stříbrná (Silberbach) – Franz Gruss

Franz GrussAlthough born in Kraslice (Graslitz), he decided to spend a significant part of his life in the captivating Nancy Valley in Stříbrná. We are speaking about Franz Gruss, an artist, a drawer and sculptor. He obtained education in the field of graphic arts in Vienna. He took pleasure especially in landscape-painting as well as war and social themes. Most often he used oil, lithography, chalk and watercolours. His works were exhibited in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Teplice (Teplitz), Liberec (Reichenberg), Most (Brüx), but also in Vienna, Austria, or in Wroclaw, Poland. His successes were crowned with many awards. For example, he won the design competition for the fresco for the memorial to the First World War victims at the St. Claire Church in Cheb (Eger). In Nancy Valley, which had been named by the Countess Anna, wife of the Count of Nostitz – Rieneck, Franz Gruss built a log cabin with a studio in 1924. At the places along side of the Cínový potok (Tin Creek) he found welcome inspirational sources for his work. He lived in the log cabin until the end of the Second World War, and then he moved to Austria. Only foundations of his house remain.