The state capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and second in the running for largest the fourth largest city in Germany, Schwerin is a delightful and picturesque place, surrounded by sparkling wrap around lakes. In fact, the city is also known fondly as Seven lakes, due to the number of lakes that make up the breeze ruffled waterscapes. Charismatic and striking, the city’s most famous sight – the Schwerin Castle is a definitive landmark dominating the skyline.
The unlikely sister town of Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Schwerin has seen many of their own residents moving over to the United States in the middle of the 1800s, not long after Schwerin was reinstated as the capital after the division of Mecklenburg state.
The city long enjoyed a regal status as many Dukes and Duchesses resided there. Earlier drawings of the city indicate that their roots may go as far back as 965 AD – and fascinating stories of its charismatic past tell tales of mystery, romance, art and war.
Even though the Schwerin Castle is the only medieval site to have survived throughout the following centuries, there are a number of historical delights evident throughout the city showcasing some impressive 850 years of history. Winding cobbled streets, perfectly manicured lanes, lush natural surroundings, glorious galleries showcasing many works of art and a bustling cultural facet will surely astound the most discerning of travellers.
A visit to the Florence of the North, or the City of Seven Lakes, or Cathedral City, as it is variously known, is a sight to behold – full of excitement, culture and history.
Best Time to Go
The seasons in Germany offer a variety of different travel options that are absolutely fantastic 365 days of the year. The busiest season is summer – the months of June, July and August, when the weather is at its finest and visitors pour into the city. Also, around the end of the year, as the snow is thick and temperatures chilly, the weeks up to Christmas are busy as visitors flock to the city to enjoy the festivals and the Christmas markets.
With summer and Christmas as peak seasons, expect the prices of everything to reflect the same. If you are on a budget, and can’t face the long queues into all of the attractions, the hoards of people and the serious holiday prices, then you will be more suited to visiting during spring or fall. Fall is popular as the days are still nice and warm, but everybody who was visiting has already left. September is a wonderful month, unless you couldn’t bear to miss Oktoberfest the following month.
Winter temperatures often drop below freezing, so be sure that you are geared for the seriously cold weather. Summer daytime temperatures go up way into the 30°C (86°F) mark, and fall is known as their rainy season, so be prepared for frequent rain showers. No matter what, Schwerin won’t disappoint – whether you have packed your snow skis or flip flops.
Getting Around in Schwerin
Many people will tell you that the easiest way to get around the city is by foot. There are lots of trams and busses throughout the city as another option, and you can download maps for the transport and the famous sights right off the tourist website and plan where you want to go.
The main attractions of Schwerin are quite close together and you can hop off a tram and walk down the parks and lakes. Everything is beautiful and it is worth taking a quiet amble along the river side.
Cycling is also another popular way to see the sights of the city, and there are lots of demarcated paths, along rivers, rolling green fields, through quaint Mecklenburg villages with nothing but the call of the birds and the trickling river beside you. You can book a cycling tour or hire bicycles; the friendly staff at the Tourist Info Centre will help you find everything you need.
Major Attractions and Sites
The Schwerin Castle and Park– Not known as the jewel of Lake Schwerin for nothing, the Schwerin Castle is without a doubt the city’s most iconic landmark. Having survived through centuries and wars, whilst still standing tall and regal, the majestic castle is perched on the river’s edge, its incredible reflection back at her in the sparkling waters below. The architecture of the castle has somewhat of a fairy tale theme – a fortress of elegance, romance and delicacy with numerous turrets, vaults and multiple annexes.
With evidence suggesting that the castle has roots as far back as 965, it was once the residence for many Dukes and Duchesses in its royal time. The surrounding parklands are a big part of the dramatic attraction with manicured gardens sweeping across as far as the eye can see. A legacy of one of the world’s most powerful royal empires, the castle is a must see – it would be sacrilege not to – when visiting Schwerin.
The State Museum is the largest art gallery in all of Mecklenburg state. What was once planned as a palace home for a grand Duke, the unfinished building was transformed and completed by an architect who had a passion for art. It’s now home to the largest collection of Dutch art anywhere in Europe – see Hals, Rembrandt, Rubens and many more.
The State Theater of Mecklenburg stands right next to the State Museum on the square of the Alter Garten. A stunning example of Italian Renaissance design, the theater took 3 years to complete. It’s now the glorious venue for drama, ballet, musicals and German festivals and culture – performance are very much part of German culture.
The Cathedral and Market Square is enveloped by the Rathaus – the gothic/tudor style town hall and Lowendenkmal – the Lion Monument, which stands as reminders of the city’s historic past. The cathedral is the oldest building in the city, however sadly is not all original as many parts had to be rebuilt. But, the Paradiespforte – the Gate to Paradise, is completely original and preserved and the oldest part of the cathedral itself. There are some of the most incredible views of the city from the platform here.
The “Schelfstadt” was originally the brain child of Duke Friedrich Wilhelm way back in 1705. He commissioned this ‘New Town’ to be built, in the hope that it would attract craftsmen and merchants to come and settle here. But it only became part of the city in the middle of the 1800s. Stunning timber houses, charming cobbled streets, a baroque church, cultural centre and many historical buildings are just some of the things to be experienced here.
The Alter Garden Square is located right opposite the palace island and used to be the fruit orchards and vegetable garden for the Duke. Without question the square is the most beautiful and dramatic area in Schwerin – surrounded by the State Museum, the Theater of Mecklengburg, the old palais and the Kollegiengebaude – all 19th century buildings and all with the resplendent backdrop of the palace and the lake.
Lake Pfaffenteich can be found right in the heart of the city. You can take tours of the lake on the Petermannchen ferry or meander along the lime tree boulevard visiting historic places like Demmler’s Home, the Arsenal, the Kuken House, and if you are there at the right time of the year, experience the Alstadtfest and the Dragon Boat Races.
Shopping in Schwerin
If you are a shopping enthusiast, then Schwerin is the place to be. No matter what your shopping style – whether you are into farmers markets, exclusive fashion boutiques, antiques and bargain hunting or a mall rat, there is everything here.
Head out to Puschkinstraße, Schusterstraße, Schmiedestraße and Enge Straße for everything you could possibly imagine along the streets – arts and crafts, antiques, jumble sales, fashion, clothing and jewelry.
There are some big shopping centers like Wurm, Schlossparkcentre and Burgseegalerie and the ultimate year round farmer’s food and craft markets in the Old Town Market Square – Schlachtermarkt. In November, there is a hugely popular medieval / Christmas market – Martensmakrt which must not be missed.
Eating Out in Schwerin
The food in Schwerin is real comfort food – rich with meat, potatoes, and of course generous helpings of German beer; throw your diet out of the window when you get here, there is nothing slimming about it.
Bacon, butter, ham, roasts, wurst, raisins, apples, dumplings and Himmel und Erde are just some of the local staples you can expect to stumble upon on your culinary journey feasting in Schwerin.
Fish is also high on the list as the surrounding lakes provide the city with a wealth of the freshest fish. Lots of traditional Mecklenburgian dishes can be found on menus as well as more modern, lighter fare.
Café Antik is a popular local hangout that is a bit tucked away from the busy tourist areas, which is why it is a welcome retreat.
Chill out on antique furniture, grab a coffee or a beer, put your feet up and enjoy some great food, good company, friendly staff, a fantastic host and stay there all night if you want.
Generally open from 3pm, although depending on how late events ran the night before, you may have to wait a bit until they get sorted.
Cafe Prag is very popular for their friendly service, great food and good value for money. Leave some room after a hearty meal for their incredible cakes and don’t miss a chance to try their apple streusel – just take a takeaway if you can’t manage it there.
Nightlife in Schwerin
The nightlife in Schwerin is effervescent – don’t miss a chance to take a tour of the city with the night watchman and his bright lights. There is everything here, enjoy cocktails, a theatre show, dancing until dawn or a good night out at the pub.
Beer is a huge national favorite and it is not uncommon to find the quaint little pubs and bars opening only much later in the afternoon, and then staying open until the very early hours of the morning.
Biergartens are popular in the summer, and it is great to sit outdoors with a beer and a pretzel overlooking the lakes, lush gardens and surrounded by a happy vibe of locals and visitors alike.
The local people in Schwerin are friendly and the staff at many of the establishments speak English, and are happy to help you order, or give you directions to the next party place.
Summer is a very busy time as the weather is nice and everybody wants to get outside and enjoy a beer, so be sure to get there early or if you can book in advance, otherwise you will end up being disappointed.
There are a couple of casinos, as well as bowling if you don’t feel like going out on a pub crawl. Check out the local list of events and shows, you could find yourself in luck with last minute tickets left for a great show.
Zum Freischütz is a hugely popular pub that has a fantastic drinks and food menu – go early, as it is always packed and don’t forget to try the Fladenbrot; it’s huge so you can share it with 2 people.
Tapas Bar Weinhaus Wöhler is good for cocktails, wine, food in a great vibey atmosphere.
Octagon is where to chill out at a club with many different faces. Wander into the Casabalanca room, groove at the House and Black floor and grab a cocktail at the Bayernbar.
Of Local Interest
Schwerin’s Open Air Opera Castle Festival
Every year for more than a decade the State Theatre of Mecklenberg has been putting on an Open Air Opera Festival at the Castle.
Opera under the stars quickly became a popular trademark and has evolved into one of the premier international events on the opera calendar.
Book in advance and get tickets to La Traviata, Rigoletto and Nabucco – to name but a few. There cannot be a more dramatic backdrop to such sensational events – as the Castle.
Emotional and moving, to see performances here are most certainly a once in a life time experience.
Wirecard : How Jan Marsalek Friend Henry O’Sullivan became “Corinna Müller”
The Briton Henry O’Sullivan is regarded as the dazzling puller of many Wirecard deals and friend of Jan Marsalek and internal emails show how big his influence was in the company.
Henry O’Sullivan celebrated his 40th birthday in paradise. He invited lawyers, managers and high-ranking executives from Wirecard to the lonely dream island of Benguerra off the coast of the East African state of Mozambique. Board member Jan Marsalek and his girlfriend should also come.
As a souvenir, the host wanted: pens for the school children in town and champagne for the party weekend.
The luxury resort Azura Retreats, which O’Sullivan rented in November 2014, had cabins right on the beach, palm trees, and a beach. On arrival, the guests would have to wade through knee-deep water as the British businessman’s assistant warned a month before the celebration. That wasn’t a problem for Jan Marsalek. He preferred to travel by helicopter anyway, according to an email from his secretary.
The extravagant birthday plans reveal a lot about two of the central key figures in the Wirecard scandal. Jan Marsalek (40) and Henry O’Sullivan (46) are close confidants who worked together on big deals far away from the headquarters in Aschheim. Now the judiciary is asking whether millions have been diverted. Wirecard is insolvent and Marsalek is on the run.
O’Sullivan does not answer inquiries. At the beginning of 2020, he only wanted to talk to the examiners from KMPG and EY under certain conditions but then he was no longer available to them.
The beefy Brit was known for his dissolute lifestyle. In Singapore he often dined in a top restaurant on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with a view over the harbor. To save time on business trips, he preferred to travel short distances by helicopter instead of taxi and in the meantime he lived on a yacht in Monaco.
Marsalek had O’Sullivan flown in in 2014 to celebrate with him at the Munich Oktoberfest. A year later they flew through South Africa in the Learjet 45XR. And when the Briton wanted to meet the Wirecard executive board in Jakarta in 2014, he asked an Indonesian employee by email about a hotel that would tolerate the “type of spring break business trips”.
Beyond its luxury life, only fragments of O’Sullivan’s businesses are known. The Briton did not hold an official position at Wirecard. Many consider him a “phantom” in the background, a member of the mysterious clique around Marsalek.
It was stored in the Wirecard address book with an external e-mail address for freelancers – his profile photo showed Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord: another bad joke by Jan Marsalek, as insiders suspect.
As much as O’Sullivan was on business trips, he was always careful to be discreet. This is also shown by an episode from spring 2020, when the Wirecard world was already falling apart and auditors examined the opaque third-party business for which Marsalek was responsible.
O’Sullivan was very knowledgeable about third party business and a strange company purchase in India in 2015. He was therefore a sought-after discussion partner for the annual auditors from EY and the special auditors from KPMG. O’Sullivan apparently managed to convince the supervisory board of a special protective measure.
A sought-after discussion partner for EY and KPMG
O’Sullivan demanded at the end of April or beginning of March 2016 that his name should not be recorded in the “final report” or in any other correspondence with Wirecard. “These papers have a habit of appearing in public,” he wrote to an assistant at Marsalek. He assumes that “everything that is written will ultimately be read by others” and he therefore insists on being given a pseudonym.
This is how Mr. O’Sullivan became Mrs. Müller. On March 4, a legal advisor to the Supervisory Board wrote to Wirecard management: “As discussed yesterday, a code name should be used for all further e-mails and other references. Proposal: ‘Ms. Corinna Müller’. ”On the same day, EY agreed not to use the name in communication with Wirecard international.
According to supervisory board circles, however, it was clear: There should be no special treatment in the confidential internal audit report, and O’Sullivan’s real name would have been mentioned here.
But it did not get to that. According to the “Wall Street Journal”, the special auditor KPMG was cross: O’Sullivan had also made the condition of their auditors anonymous. When they refused, he refused to speak.
He could tell so much in the process. In the ten years before the bankruptcy alone, Wirecard acquired companies for 1.2 billion euros, according to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé. In his report, Jaffé writes that the deals were one reason for the “enormous consumption of liquidity in recent years”. The public prosecutor is investigating former executives on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.
O’Sullivan was involved in numerous Wirecard deals. His name is linked to one of the largest and most dubious deals the payment service provider has done in recent years: the takeover of the Indian Hermes group in 2015. Wirecard bought the companies from the Mauritius-registered fund Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A (EMIF 1A) for 326 million euros. The amazing thing: the fund had only acquired the same company and assets a few months earlier for around 35 million euros and it is still not clear who was behind that deal
Marsalek stated in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of 2020 that he had not checked the background. But insiders report that O’Sullivan and Marsalek were the ones who planned the deal and who ultimately benefited from it. In any case, the original Hermes sellers now feel cheated. They filed a lawsuit that revealed that it was O’Sullivan who negotiated the sale to the EMIF 1A fund for € 35 million.
The central figure in Senjo was also O’Sullivan, even if he did not hold an official position. A PR consultant for the British company stated in 2019 that her client worked for Senjo. That’s only half the story. In practice, O’Sullivan is said to have been the one in charge of Senjo. In Singapore, the authorities are now investigating for falsification of accounts in the vicinity of the group of companies.
How hard Marsalek worked internally at Wirecard for his party friend O’Sullivan is shown by a short-term lending business from 2016, which several Wirecard board members dealt with. Ascheimer Wirecard Bank AG granted Cottisford Holdings Ltd, a generous credit line of ten million euros from O’Sullivan, for which Wirecard AG guaranteed as internal emails and documents prove this.
“Today the supervisory board formally approved the loan retrospectively, but was not ‘amused’ about it,” wrote the then board member Rainer Wexeler of Wirecard Bank AG on March 2, 2016 to Marsalek. He complained that the panel had been poorly informed. Wexeler asked: “Can you please give me the private address of O’Sullivan and some key business data about his business, his connection to Wirecard AG, etc.?”
Wirecard Scandal claims another Victim – Heike Pauls from Commerzbank
It’s not even eight months since Germany’s number one payment service provider imploded: Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that billions of euros never existed on the balance sheet. As a result, board members had to go to jail or disappeared without a trace. Since then, auditors have been distrusted, and the head of the BaFin supervisory authority has to look for a new job. The youngest victim is Heike Pauls of the German Commerzbank.
Up until a few weeks before the Wirecard scandal burst, several analysts in various banks believed in Wirecard. They unshakably believed that the annual financial statements for 2019, which had been postponed several times, would end well, some experts continued to insist on Wirecard price targets of 180 to 240 euros.
One of the bravest supporters of the scandal group was Heike Pauls from Commerzbank. The analyst was always loyal to Wirecard: She dismissed critical reports about the payment processor as false reports and even a few weeks before the collapse she issued a buy recommendation with a price target of 230 euros for the Wirecard share.
As the Spiegel reported, Pauls had in the meantime also provided the management of the payment processor with sensitive information that it had collected specifically on the capital market. In January Commerzbank had already restructured the research department and relieved the analyst of her duties, now the announcement was made:
“Commerzbank has terminated the employment relationship.”
The Wirecard scandal is far from being dealt with. Further personnel consequences in various economic areas could follow. Extensive claims for damages by investors against the insolvent payment service provider are also examined and the the Wirecard share remains taboo for any investors.
Wirecard Committee – Doubts about Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s Credibility
Didn’t Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tell the whole truth when he appeared as a witness on the Wirecard investigative committee? Internal documents that are available to the ARD studio fuel the suspicion. The SPD accuses him of having lied to the committee and in the opposition too, doubts about its credibility are growing.
In December Guttenberg was asked about his role in the Wirecard scandal in the Bundestag. It was also about an article that the former CSU minister published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the end of March 2020. The topic: The role of short sales in the Corona crisis. At the time, Wirecard was targeted by shortsellers, i.e. stock exchange traders who bet on falling prices for a company and Guttenberg had argued against such short sales in the article.
Mail to ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun
Guttenberg apparently did not want to draw a direct connection to his work for Wirecard, but there are doubts about this representation.
An email to the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun, however, indicates that Guttenberg could very well have had the now insolvent DAX group in mind when he wrote the text for the FAZ.
In this email of March 20, 2020, the Managing Director of the communications company Edelman, Rüdiger Assion, proposed a “Short Selling Action Plan” to the Wirecard boss. Among other things, this contained the suggestion that Guttenberg could write a guest commentary on the subject of short sales in the newspapers FAZ or “Die Welt”. An argumentation paper with key messages is also attached to the mail. Just six days later, exactly such a guest comment appears in the FAZ. Guttenberg’s argumentation shows clear similarities with the line proposed in the argumentation paper.
SPD speaks of a lie
The SPD chairman in the Wirecard committee, Zimmermann, therefore accuses Guttenberg of not telling the truth on the witness stand. Zimmermann told the ARD city studio: “He (Guttenberg’s note by the editor) lied to the investigative committee and tried to set the wrong track when he denied arguing for a ban on short sales in the interests of Wirecard. A real surprise is this lack of honesty not with him. ” Now it must be clarified whether Guttenberg deliberately wanted to mislead the investigative committee.
CDU defends Guttenberg
Guttenberg is defended by the CDU. The MP Matthias Hauer said that the SPD should primarily devote itself to the question of why the BaFin, supervised by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard. “This should certainly contribute more to the explanation of Wirecard than an article in the name of an ex-politician on the subject in the FAZ.”
But doubts about Guttenberg’s credibility are also growing among the opposition. The chairman of the Greens, Danyal Bayaz, said that Guttenberg’s remarks on his opinion contribution had already been implausible in the committee of inquiry. “Apparently it was part of the advisory service to specifically win over public opinion for a renewed ban on short selling.” That does not cast a good light on Guttenberg’s honesty.
The Linke chairman in the committee, Fabio de Masi, can imagine summoning the former Federal Minister again: “If Mr. Guttenberg was Baron Münchhausen and had said the untruth in front of the committee of inquiry, this would also be criminally relevant, (…) the question is then whether his other statements that he had met the Chancellor privately are also untrue. “
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