Florian Von Henckel

Hey there! Your favorite Henckel, Karol Henckel, is back with another family update. In an earlier post, I did a deep dive into the 2018 German movie, “Never Look Away.” It was a powerful depiction of an artist who escaped East Germany in the 1950s. The protagonist, Karl Barnert (played brilliantly by Tom Schilling), tries to make a new life for himself in Cold War West Germany, but his childhood living as a Nazi continues to torment him.

karol florian henckel von donnersmark

The movie was written and directed by the brilliant Florian Henckel von Dommersmarck, a man who won an Oscar for his first feature-length film, “The Lives of Others,” in 2008. Henckel von Donnersmarck also directed the Golden Globe-nominated film, “The Tourist,” starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

Florian was born in 1973 in Cologne, West Germany and he’s a descendant of the aristocratic Henckel von Donnersmarck family. I was surprised such a dynamic director came from such a high-brow lineage. The family dates back to at least the 1300s and they are an old Austro-German noble family.  They come from a region that is now modern day Slovakia.

The family got its name from the founder of the family, Henckel de Quintoforo, who was based in Donnersmarck and in 1417, the Holy Roman Emperor and Hungarian King granted the three brothers of the Henckel von Donnersmarck a coat of arms, and the family spawned generations of barons, counts and princes.

The Henckel von Donnersmarck family lost its vast fortune, however, following Germany’s defeat in World War II. However, the fall from grace for the family no doubt helped Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, to develop as an amazing movie director and writer.

I looked at all these family members:

  • Lazarus (I) Henckel von Donnersmarck (1551–1624), banker and mining entrepreneur[1]
  • CountCarl Maximilian Henckel von Donnersmarck, castle owner
  • Lazarus III, Count Henckel von Donnersmarck (1729–1805), mining industrialist
  • Count Elias Maximilian Henckel von Donnersmarck (1746–1827), Prussian major general
  • Countess Eleonore Ottilie Maximiliane Henckel von Donnersmarck (1756–1843)
  • Count Carl Lazarus Henckel von Donnersmarck (1772–1864), industrialist
  • Wilhelm Ludwig Viktor, Count Henckel von Donnersmarck(1775–1849), Prussian Lieutenant-General
  • Count Leo Victor Felix Henckel von Donnersmarck (1785–1861), German botanist
  • Hugo, Count Henckel von Donnersmarck(1811–1890), land owner and industrialist
  • Guido, Prince Henckel von Donnersmarck(1830–1916), land owner and industrialist, his wife was known as La Païva; she commissioned the Hotel de Païva at 25 avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris
  • Count Lazarus IV Henckel von Donnersmarck (1835–1914), landowner and member of the German Reichstag
  • Count Dr. Victor Parry Amadeus Henckel von Donnersmarck (1854–1916), envoy at the German Embassy in Copenhagen
  • Countess Katharina Eleonore VeronikaIrma Luise Henckel von Donnersmarck (1902–1965), actress, played the Queen of Transylvania in My Fair Lady; married in 1925 to Baron Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (1899–1987)
  • Georg Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, (1902–1973), politician of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, member of parliament
  • Carl Joseph Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck (November 7, 1928 Romolkwitz, Neumarkt; † April 16, 2008), married Princess Marie Adelaide of Luxembourg(1924–2007), father of Count Felix Henckel von Donnersmarck (March 2, 1960; † October 28, 2007)
  • Augustine Heinrich Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck (1935–2005), priest
  • Count Leo-Ferdinand Henckel von Donnersmarck (1935–2009), President of the German Association of the Order of Malta(1997–2006)
  • Count Winfried Henckel von Donnersmarck, a member of the Sovereign Councilof the Sovereign Military Order of Malta[3]
  • Count Hugh II and Edgar Henckel von Donnersmarck, resident in the Castle Polnisch Krawarn
  • Count Gregor Henckel-Donnersmarck (Ulrich Maria Karl Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck; born 1943), Abott of Heiligenkreuz Abbey
  • Florian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck(b. 1973), film director, screenwriter and film producer, Oscar-winner in 2007 (Best Foreign Language Film)
  • Heinrich Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, CEO of the SIX Swiss Exchange(2000 to 2008)

Besides my love of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s movies, I became very curious about how the family spread around the world. I have an old friend, Karol Henckel, who has always entertained me with her love of American television sit-coms, especially such classics as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Arrested Development.”

Karol’s grandfather from her father’s side talked about his family’s life in Germany before the Nazi takeover in 1933 and how they escaped to America. I’ve asked her to join Ancestry.com to see if she actually is a descendant of the Henckel von Donnersmarck clan. If, as I suspect, they are descendents, I think it would be so cool to know that Karol Henckel is actually related to Florian Henckel von Donnersarck and part of the regal dynasty.

Stay tuned as the saga continues.