The Ulbricht family and the Ulbricht nutcrackers
The Ulbricht family (world famous manufacturers of nutcrackers - in german Nussknacker) roots go back to the 17th century. Long before they crafted their first Ulbricht nutcrackers they have already lived in the German Erzgebirge (German "Ore Mountains") which is a very traditional mountain region in eastern Germany. The Erzgebirge was the center of the European mining industry in the 17th and 18th century. Large deposits of silver and tin made the Erzgebirge a very wealthy region. Large numbers of castles and churches from the time of prosperity can still be visited today and draw millions of tourist every year. In the late 18th century the Erzgebirge mining industry slowly broke down and the miners had to look for other income sources. Many of them turned to wood working which already was their long time hobby. All wonderful Erzgebirge collectibles like nutcrackers, incense smokers, Christmas pyramids and candle arches (and of course the Ulbricht nutcrackers) go back to these old roots.
The full name of the Ulbricht Company today is Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht. The company was founded in 1928 by Otto Ulbricht who was a very skilled wood turner. Right from the beginning Otto Ulbricht had great success and the large demand made him built a new larger factory in Seiffen. The new workshop opened in 1934. The little village Seiffen today has only 3000 inhabitants and is still the center of Erzgebirge handcrafts. In 1945 when WWII had finally ended Otto faced a serious problem. His factory was situated in Eastern Germany that was part of the Soviet zone which later became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The future did not look very bright for private businesses under Soviet control. Otto decided to leave the Erzgebirge and resettle somewhere in western Germany which was under British and US control and offered the personal freedom he needed to continue his company operations. With his wife and his four children he moved to Lauingen in Bavaria and hired and trained new skilled workers. Otto Ulbricht continued to be a very successful in the 50s and 60s. Many Ulbricht nutcrackers and other handmade items left his Bavarian workshop. After Otto Ulbricht passed away his son Christian Ulbricht became president of the company. Christian Ulbricht, born in 1933, was only 35 years of age when he took over the company. Like the famous Steinbach company located in Marienberg and Hohenhameln Christian Ulbricht started to produce nutcrackers for the international market. He increased the variety of Ulbricht nutcrackers and designed new models every year that were totally different from the typical Erzgebirge nutcrackers. Instead of kings, soldier and policemen he produced nutcrackers with modern characters from art, literature and history. Among them have been American presidents, popes and other famous persons. Some of the Ulbricht nutcrackers are limited editions which makes them more valuable for collectors from around the world.
In 1990 a dream came true for Christian Ulbricht. The fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany made it possible for him to buy back the family properties in the Seiffen / Erzgebirge. Christian Ulbricht built a new modern production plant in Seiffen and since 1990 operates from both former eastern and western Germany.
Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht is now in its 3rd generation. The Ulbricht nutcrackers (Nussknacker) and all the other wonderful items from the Ulbricht workshops are loved everywhere around the world. A total of 1500 different items are manufactured in Lauingen and Seiffen. Among are them over 200 nutcrackers and 300 incense smokers. But Ulbricht also offers wonderful wooden music boxes, candles arches and hundreds of handmade wooden figurines and ornaments.
Christian still designs new models almost every year and loves being in his workshops instructing his 80 employees. Many other family members are involved in the company. Inge Ulbricht takes pride in being in charge of quality control and designs ornaments. Ines Ulbricht plays a major role in company organization and is also in charge of the Seiffen production plant. Gunther Ulbricht has great creative ability and designs most of the new Ulbricht nutcrackers. He is also a talented painter of landscapes and portraits.
Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht and primarily Ullbricht nutcrackers are a mark auf highest quality and successful design with traditions of wood working that date back more 300 years.