Open House Day: “Haus im Wald” from Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) celebrated the inauguration of the new work and seminar building in Schmitten on May 15, 2024 together with the residents of Schmitten and all others with an interest in the site.
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The 5th of June, 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Else Kröner. The foundation took this event as an occasion to remodel her house in the woods in Schmittener Wald and use it for non-profit purposes. Else Kröner’s legacy to help people and advance medicine will live on there at this new retreat and work venue for scientists. Now the new building has been completed and the seminar house was inaugurated on May 15, 2024 – Else Kröner’s 99th birthday. 

After an introduction to the “House in the Woods” given by Prof. Dr. Michael Madeja and words of welcome from Julia Krügers, the mayor of Schmitten, the house was blessed by Tobias Blechschmidt, parish priest of the Parish St. Franziskus und Klara in the region Usinger Land. The Open House Day followed up by inviting those attending to view the two apartments where research scientists in the field of medicine can retreat to the tranquility of the woods in Schmittener Wald to think about and work on publications. In the house’s area for seminars, a day-long program offered items on the agenda at hourly intervals. Topics included the architecture and use of the house, as well as the foundation’s work. 

Dr. Karl Schneider, executor of Else Kröner’s estate and deputy chairman of the Foundation Board of Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, talked with the program’s moderator Daniela Bublitz about his personal recollections of Else Kröner and how he had experienced her – as both person and entrepreneur. Other eyewitnesses from that time spoke up spontaneously and recounted their individual experiences with the foundation’s benefactor. Ruxandra-Maria Jotzu from the firm ArchiKultur shed light on Else Kröner’s life in an extensively researched presentation and took the audience along on a journey through time – corroborated by photos, postcards and quotes out of the foundation founder’s life.

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This was followed by a paper on the flora and fauna at the location of the “Haus im Wald” presented by Dr. Dr. Dieter Selzer, head of the department Environment, Conservation and Land-Use Planning at the Hochtaunus regional administration, and Volker Erdelen, expert on species conservation and ecological construction monitor for the “Haus im Wald”. The foundation’s work was presented by Dr. Tanja Dangmann, member of the Management Board of Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, who also gave a look into the current projects being funded from the scientific and humanitarian sectors at EKFS. After this, a presentation on the architecture of the “Haus im Wald” and about the challenges posed by the construction project was given by Ulrike Laege, architect at the bureau Heitzenröder Architekten. 

In the afternoon Prof. Dr. Dr. Thimoteus Speer, director of the Clinic for Nephrology and head of the Else Kröner Fresenius Center (EKFZ) for Nephrological Research in Frankfurt am Main, gave an introduction to the field of nephrology and spoke about the application of research in everyday work at the clinic. Prof. Dr. Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz, former vice president of the Goethe University Frankfurt, offered a look into scientists’ work and emphasized the house’s benefit – far from everyday work at the clinic – in enabling them to exchange views with their teams in the seminar area or develop new ideas in peace and quiet. 

As finale, “Fit um Acht”, a group of cyclists from Schmitten, made their appearance on bikes at the house, and in a casual round of discusssion Prof. Dr. Michael Madeja described his personal experiences during the building phase. 
We thank all the visitors who took the time to view the “House in the Woods” and for the valuable exchange this brought. Sincere thanks to all the speakers and many thanks to the eyewitnesses of past events who shared their personal histories involving Else Kröner with us on this day.