Bruhnskoppel, Malente, Germany, 1905

1905 – A color postcard sent in spring 1906 shows the ‘Hôtel Bruhnskoppel’ near Malente-Gremsmühlen in Germany, and a lower German poem by Klaus Groth. © Mark Zanzig/ Julius Simonsen

The story behind the image

A while ago I shared the story of the restaurant and hotel Bruhnskoppel which was originally owned and operated by my great-great-grandfather, Johann Hinrich Grebien (1826-1903). He had opened a restaurant on top of the Bruhnskoppel, a tiny, attractive hill near Malente-Gremsmühlen. Tourism in the area had been picking up, and the restaurant quickly became a success. Johann added a hotel around 1895, which was run by his son, my great-uncle Friedrich Rudolph Grebien who added the 21 meter tower. Friedrich ran the hotel until the end of 1907 when he sold it.

The hotel continued a wild ride through the decades until it finally closed in 2010. It followed a bizarre story of several investors who were talking about investing into a new, fully restored hotel. But these plans never materialized. At the same time, the buildings were destroyed by the weather and by vandals. Today, it has become a shame for the community, labeled a “lost place” in the area. See the change over time on

The postcard was probably shot in 1905, when Friedrich was still at the helm. A highlight of this postcard is the poem by Klaus Groth, a famous regional poet who claimed time and again that the Bruhnskoppel was “his favorite place to be.”

The poem is in lower German, here’s my translation:

Simple and right
High or flat
Dry or wet
Beer or wine
Duke or fin
But real it has to be.

Klaus Groth, 15th June 1897

A few words about the photographer, Julius Simonsen. He was born in 1876 in Süderbrarup, a small town between Schleswig and Flensburg. Originally trained to become a merchant he decided to moved into the photo business at the age of 20 when he joined the studio of L. Christensen in Oldenburg in Holstein. Just four years later, in 1899, Simonsen acquired the business from Christensen.

Simonsen found his business at the starting point of two important developments: Firstly, tourism was picking up across the region, and travelers wanted to send their friends a greeting via postcards. Consequently, demand for content and postcards was picking up. Secondly, photography had seen huge technological improvements and was about to become mainstream technology. So, Simonsen photographed the beautiful spots in northern Germany, then printed and sold the postcards under the label Kunstverlag Julius Simonsen. Over time, he added several shops in the region, and business was better than ever. With the beginning of the First World War, Simonsen had to pause the business for about a decade, until interest in travel and photography was on the rise again. In 1935, he handed over the business to his son Hans.

Nikolaus Julius Simonsen died on the 29th October 1943 in Oldenburg at the age of 67. His stunning work will continue to live in the photo archives forever, showing the beauty of a world that has significantly changed since then.

The high resolution image

Capture Dateapprox. 1905
PhotographerJulius Simonsen
LocationBruhnskoppel, Germany
Image Source13 x 9 cm postcard image
Digital Image SourceEPSON Perfection 4870 Photo
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions6503 x 4204 Pixels
Copyright© Mark Zanzig/ Julius Simonsen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s