G7 Summit

Schloss Elmau and its original owner

The history of Schloss Elmau

Schloss Elmau in Upper Bavaria is the chosen venue for the G7 summit meeting of heads of state and government. It was originally built between 1914 and 1916 for the religious philosopher and writer Johannes Müller. The imposing complex served as a cultural and theological meeting point for his followers.

The term "Schloss" or palace, does not result from any monarchical or aristocratic ownership, but rather reflects the grandeur, size and architecture of the complex. Johannes Müller (1864-1949) used the building as a meeting and encounter place for his readers, seminar participants and followers.

Cultural and theological meeting place

After studying theology in Leipzig and Erlangen, Johannes Müller joined the "Evangelisch-lutherischen Centralverein zur Mission unter Israel". Known as the "Judenmission" or Jewish Mission, this body endeavoured to convert Jews to the Christian faith. Müller left the association again in 1892, since he was unable to have his views accepted. He began to hold public lectures on his own religious and philosophical beliefs.

As a result, Schloss Elmau became a popular meeting place for Müller’s followers. Concerts, public readings, and dances were held in the great hall, shaping life at Schloss Elmau.

Müller was known as an egocentric zealot, whose views, remarks and opinions on ideological and philosophical matters sometimes oscillated. His teachings subsumed elements of Christianity with elements borrowed from nationalism and the life reform movement. For a time he was an advocate and a follower of National Socialist teachings and he admired Hitler.

Schloss Elmau during the Nazi regime

Johannes Müller had an ambivalent attitude to the Nazi regime. He did speak out against anti-Semitism, as a result of which the Nazis banned his publications. On the other hand he saw Hitler as a "God-sent leader" and was a passionate believer in the "rebirth of the German people". Müller sided with the "German Christians", who quoted him as one of their philosophers and teachers.

Apparently expecting Schloss Elmau to be expropriated by the SS, Müller leased it to the Wehrmacht in 1941 as a rest and recuperation centre for troops returning from the front. In 1945 Johannes Müller was convicted as a main culprit in a denazification trial,. The reasons given for his conviction were the "admiration he expressed for Hitler verbally and in writing" and the broad impact of his views.

At the end of the war, Schloss Elmau was confiscated by the US army and used for a short time as a field hospital. Later, it was managed by the Bavarian government which used it as a recuperation home for TB patients.

In 1951 two of Müller’s children leased the building and established a hotel. After successfully appealing against the conviction of Johannes Müller by the denazification court, Müller’s children Bernhard and Sieglinde became owners of Schloss Elmau in 1961.

Hotel and cultural encounter centre

After a major fire in 2005, Dietmar Müller-Elmau, a grandson of Johannes Müller, rebuilt Schloss Elmau and made it into a "Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway".

Since the end of the 1950s Schloss Elmau has welcomed many high-ranking and well known guests, including Yehudi Menuhin, Benjamin Britten, Herman Prey, Friedrich Gulda, Gidon Kremer, Thomas Quasthoff, Johannes Rau and Vicco von Bülow.

It is the venue for many cultural events of international calibre. And lectures on topical matters of philosophy, contemporary history and globalisation are held there.

As at November 2014