Ulbricht Nutcrackers - The German Nutcracker
The Ulbricht family roots can be traced back to the 17th century. Long before the first Christian Ulbricht nutcrackers were designed.
The Ulbricht family lived in the German Erzgebirge until the end of World War II. The German Erzgebirge ("Ore Mountains") is a mountain range in eastern Germany. In the 15th century rich deposits of gold, silver and tin were discovered and started a large settlement. The mining industry helped the region become very wealthy.
Many beautiful castles and wonderful churches were built and can still be visited nowadays. As a hobby the miners enjoyed working with wood and developed magnificent skills in wood turning and wood carving. In the 18th century the unthinkable happened. The mines dried up, and the miners turned to their long-time hobby of woodturning for their livelihood. These roots are the origin of all of today's wonderful items and collectables from the German Erzgebirge like Nutcrackers, Incense Smokers, Christmas Pyramids, Schwibbogen (Candle Arches / Light Arches), wooden Music Boxes and other wonderful wooden Figurines & Ornaments.
Otto Ulbricht, a very skilled wood turner, started his own business in 1928. The company developed very well and in 1934 Otto Ulbricht built a new larger factory in Seiffen. When World War II ended in 1945 Otto faced the problem that the German Erzgebirge and his factory were situated in the East German Zone (later German Democratic Republic) under Soviet control. All private businesses were taken out of the hands of their owners. Otto had to make important decisions for himself and his family and decided to leave Seiffen and resettle in Western Germany (later Federal Republic of Germany).
With his wife and his four children Otto settled in Bavaria. Bavaria offered all the personal freedom and the skilled workers he needed to restart his business in the town auf Lauingen near Augsburg.
After Otto Ulbricht died in 1968 his son Christian Ulbricht (born 1933) took over the company and put it on a road to huge success. In 1990 another major political change happened. The fall of the Berlin Wall made it possible to regain family properties in Seiffen/Erzgebirge. Today the company operates out of both locations (Bavaria and Erzgebirge).
One reason for the big success of Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht is the fact that Ulbricht has widened his variety of products compared to many other workshops from the Erzgebirge. The regular Erzgebirge Nutcracker have images of authorities like soldiers, kings and policemen. The Ulbricht range of nutcracker motifs is much larger. It includes many modern nutcracker models like:
- the Nutcracker Mouseking
- the US-President Nutcracker George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt
- Pope Benedict XVI & Martin Luther as nutcracker
Every year Christian Ulbricht designs new models which the worldwide nutcracker collectors are eagerly awaiting. Especially in the USA many enthusiast are collecting Ulbricht nutcracker. Christian himself takes great pride in designing new nutcracker models. His samples become the reference for the workers who handcraft the finished pieces, using only the finest wood and materials.
Today, in it's third generation, the Ulbricht family continues to produce wonderful products of the finest quality together with their 80 employees. The product range is one of the largest from the German Erzgebirge. The Erzgebirge Palace carries over 1500 of them and offers probably the best prices on the Internet. In addition to over 200 nutcrackers, there are more than 300 incense burners/smokers, music boxes, figurines, Christmas pyramids and ornaments for all seasons.
Many family members are deeply involved in the company. Inge Ulbricht, in charge of quality control, also designs most of the ornaments, a creative task she greatly enjoys. Ines Ulbricht is also involved in artistic design but her great ability lies in organization. In fact, she is in charge of all production in Seiffen, where she now lives. She and her brother have been charged with the joint responsibility of co-directing the Christian Ulbricht Collectors Club, which started up in 1998. Gunther Ulbricht has inherited great creative ability. Many of the most artistic of the nutcracker produced today bear his designs. In his private time he is a fine artist, painting both portraits and landscapes.
Traditions are very important to Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht. Not only those that strengthen ties to the land and to family, but also those that continue the traditions of excellence in production that date back 300 years.