Irena Elsner – a recollection

“The veterinarian, William Koops from Lębork, bought the estate in 1934 for the sum of RM 400 000. He was almost in retirement age and only from time to time practiced his profession somewhere around. The Ciekocin estate, together with the forest, had an area of over 800 ha: 381 ha of farmland, 39 ha of meadows, 57 ha of pastures, 315 ha of forest. Animal stock: 43 horses, 155 heads of cattle, 350 pigs. Of course it was managed by experienced administrators, Koops was merely the owner.

Koops’s wife, Lore, inherited a big capital in gold, which Dr. Koops reasonably managed and deposited at the right time in the right bank. In short, it was a rich family. The Koops had their apartments in Lębork until the end of the war. The family didn’t always live in a the palace in Ciekocinko. The  Koops probably did not lead a harmonious life. Lore Koops suffered from severe depression, which caused her to commit suicide in 1938: she drowned in Lębork in the Łeba river. She was buried in the cemetery in Ciekocin. Because in those days suicides were buried in separate graves, Lore’s tomb was located at the very back of the cemetery  and probably because of that her grave has survived until today. If I’m not mistaken, this is the only German grave at the cemetery. In recent years, Poles have been buried in this place, but I don’t suspect it will be eliminated just like that, as was the case with other German graves in this cemetery.

The Koops had four sons. The oldest, Klaus, died at the age of 21 on the first day of war. Heinrich, born in 1920, fell ill with infantile paralysis when he was 12 years old and for the rest of his life had been disabled. Heinrich became a teacher after the war, received a PhD –he dedicated his time with great passion to historical work about the Lębork County.  His two years younger brother, Wilhelm, received agricultural education and intended to take over the estate in Ciekocinko. He gained professional experience with Mr. Ulrichs in Lubiatow. Both families were very friendly with each other. Ulrichs’s son, Hermann (last month he became 93 years old!) is “my man”: he remembers everything and everyone, really. Koops’s youngest son was called Peter (b. 1924). When he was 16, he wounded his knee during hunting.  Since that time, he had a rigid leg. For this reason he was not drafted for the war. When in 1945 the Russians came to the region, Peter organized guerrilla activities. He did not want to flee together with his father. The Russians knew about him and his actions, but couldn’t find his hideout. Peter was hiding in a shack in the forest in the direction of the Bischof farm together with his 16-year-old friend from Ciekocin, Hans-Joachim Gemkow. Sometimes we hear that young people while camping arrange a mosaic of bottle caps from the beer they drank in front of their tents… Peter Koops arranged the caps of Russian soldiers, whom he managed to shoot in front of his shack.  ”My man” said that when they discovered Peter’s hideout, there were 36 caps in front of his shack! Hans-Joachim and his father, and many other men from the area were sent by the Russians to the Soviet Union. The father did not survive, while the son returned from POW camp as late as 1955. One day, the Russians managed to reach Peter’s hideout and shot him terribly. His corpse lay for many days, they didn’t allow him to be buried. Only after almost two weeks pastor Benckendorff’s wife from  Ciekocin dug a grave with her own hands and buried Peter.

Wilhelm Koops poured all the spirit from the distillery into the sewage system. The Russians were furious and when they found out, they wanted to take revenge on the  “capitalist”. At the last moment Koops managed to escape through the woods to Lubiatow to Ulrichs. I wrote about the details in my book. Koops managed to escape to the West. On 10 May 1964, he died in a car accident at the age of 83. After the death of Mrs. Koops in 1938, everyone knew that Dr. Koops had an affair with a 20 years younger housekeeper, Hedwig Reckow from Lubiatow. This went on until 1945. Together they managed to escape to the West. After the war, Koops married Hedwig


Belle Alliance once belonged to Sasino. This was where a certain Mr. Rants (an officer and engineer) built an inn and gave it the name of Belle Alliance. Rants was the owner of Sasino from 1823, he also built a palace in Sasino and moved his inn there, but until 1945 the previous place held the official name of Belle Alliance (also on the maps). For more than a hundred years there were a few farm buildings there, belonging to farmers who acquired their farms at the time when Sasino ceased to be an estate and was divided.

In March 1945 the Russians found a shot Soviet soldier in the basement of the palace in Sasino, who probably shot himself when he tried to open a box of wine with a machine gun. The Russians took three civilians in retaliation and shot them. Soon after that, the local teacher, Karl Falk, and a farmer, William Janz, were also shot.  The locals were forced to bury all the bodies in one grave in the park directly behind the palace. After the withdrawal of the German air force unit, which stationed in the vicinity of Sasino monitoring the air space for the area of Gdańsk, 5 members of the unit remained on the Stilo – they were also shot by the Russians. The soldiers were buried by the guard of the Schuran sand dunes on the same spot in the forest where they died. But I guess I have strayed too much from the subject of Ciekocinko!… “

2010, Irena Elsner