Tonight I jump into something rather serious and discuss the story of Otto Ulricht and another form of nutcracker many of you collect today.
The Ulbricht name of manufacturing Black Forest nutcrackers and incense smokers goes back to the 17th century. In the German Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains, the Ulbricht family has been producing hand crafted wooden artifacts for more than two centuries. During the 17th and 18the centuries, the Erzgebirge region was the very heart of the European mining industry. The large discoveries of silver and tin made the Erzgebirge area a very wealthy one. There are still numerous castles and churches built during their prosperity that can still be viewed today. These buildings alone account for much tourism to the Erzgebirge region each year.
During the late 18th century, the mining industry in the area trickled to a stop and miners were forced to search for other ways of supporting their families. They turned to woodworking, which was a hobby for most, and this became a well known and very profitable craft. Many Erzgebirge collectibles such as the nutcrackers, incense smokers, Christmas pyramids and candle arches are made today with the same time honored traditions from those earlier years.
Otto Ulbricht founded the Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht Company in 1928. Otto Ulbricht was an astounding woodcarver and had much success from the very beginning of his venture. He eventually was forced to build a new factory in Seiffen, due to the demand for his high quality wood carvings. The workshop in Seiffen was opened in 1934. Seiffen today has only around 3,000 inhabitants and is the center of handcrafts for the Erzgebirge region. During 1945 after World War II ended, Otto Ulbricht faced harder times with his woodcarving business. The Ullbricht factory was located in Eastern Germany, which was then part of the Soviet zone and later became the German Democratic Republic. Private businesses in the area did not fare well under Soviet control. Otto decided to move his business from Erzgebirge region to western Germany which was under British and American control. In this area he could enjoy the personal freedom that he needed in order to grow his business into a successful enterprise. Otto Ullbricht took his wife and four children to Lauingen, Bavaria and began to see much success. During the 1950s and 1960s his success became even larger than ever before. After Otto Ulbricht passed away in in 1968, his son Christian took over the family business. Christian Ulbricht was only 35 years old when he became head of the Ulbricht Empire. He brought with him new ideas and fresh designs that would take the family legacy even further into popularity. It was Christian Ulbricht who began to produce nutcrackers for the international market. He began increasing the variety of Ulbricht nutcrackers and implemented many new designs. To go along with their already very popular line of kings, soldiers and policemen nutcrackers, he designed nutcrackers from modern characters such as American Presidents, Popes, and many fairy tale characters such as Alice in Wonderland. The new lines and varieties were instantly popular and collectors from around the world still search for the Ulbricht name when making their nutcracker purchases.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany in 1990 made it possible for Christian Ullbricht to re-purchase the Ulbricht family properties in Seiffen and Erzgebirge. This act was a life long dream for Christian. He soon built a newly modernized plan in Seiffen and now the Ulbricht Company operates in both East and West Germany.
The Ulbricht Company is currently in its third generation of family owners. There are many Ulbricht family members who operate in the company along with several very well qualified and skilled woodworkers. Inges Ulbricht is in charge of the plan in Seiffen while Gunther Ulbricht heads up the creative and design aspect. For centuries the Ulbricht name has meant family values and high quality, elegantly beautiful wooden creations. Ulbricht nutcrackers are among the most popular pieces that hail from the Black Forest region. With the more than 300 years of experience and tradition in each one, a wooden collectible from the Ulbricht collection sparks imagination and awe in each who owns