Leopold Sternberg 1896 - 1957
Leopold Sternberg was Mami's first cousin. He died in November 1957 and left me Castalovice in his Will.
I was 21 at the time starting my first semester at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
Paps decided that I was too young to be told about the inheritance (difficult to imagine) but was overruled.
The reason uncle Leopold was so generous was that Mami was his favorite cousin.
After consulting my children, not being able to speak Czech and having settled in Switzerland, I decided not to accept Uncle Leopold’s legacy which then reverted to Diana (late 1980s?).
Uncle Leopold was undoubtedly one of the most empathetic persons I have met.
He was popular with everybody, especially the servants. Every year he used to come and stay with us in Kitzbühel and invariably the first place he visited was the servants’ quarters for a chat. They loved him.
A short History
Leopold Sternberg spent most of his childhood in Zásmuky, where he attended elementary school to learn Czech. In World War I he fought as a cavalry officer and was badly wounded in Bukovina. After his return from the hospital, he took over the administration of the estate in Zásmuky.
In 1928 he married Cecilia, née Rewentlow-Criminil, and in 1936 their daughter Diana was born in Vienna.
After the death of his father, Leopold took over the family property and moved to Častolovice with his family. Before World War II, Leopold Stenberg was openly in favor of Czech statehood and opposed to Nazism - he participated in all three declarations of Czech nobility in 1938 and 1939.
After the arrival of the Germans, his property was confiscated in 1942 and the family moved to Prague. In 1945 the property was returned, but in July Leopold Sternberg had to lease Castle to the Czechoslovak army, which placed warehouses of a chemical unit there.
Častolovice and Zásmuky partially burned down in 1982, were returned to Diana in 1989.
The family decided to emigrate to America in 1948, and Zásmuky and Častolovice were nationalized. They eventually settled in Jamaica, where Uncle Leopold died in 1957.
Cecilia described her memoirs in a book “Cesta”, subtitled Memoirs of a Czech Aristocrat.
The English original "The Journey" was published in London in 1977 and is available in the Seilern archives.