Bernhart, Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein – Wikipedia

Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein

Period 17 August 1983 – present
Predecessor Prince Christian Heinrich
Heir-Apparent Prince Wenzel
Born (1962-11-15) 15 November 1962 (age 59)
Spouse Countess Katharina von Podewils-Durniz
Issue Wenzel, Hereditary Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
Father Christian-Heinrich, Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
Mother Princess Dagmar of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
Religion Lutheran

Bernhart Otto Peter, 6th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein[1] (born 15 November 1962)[2] is a German businessman and the current head of the Princely House of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein.

Early life[edit]

Prince Bernhart was born in Marburg the son of Christian-Heinrich, Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein and Princess Dagmar of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein (1919–2003).

Personal life[edit]

Prince Bernhart was married at Castle Schwarzenau, Germany on 31 August 1996 to Countess Katharina von Podewils-Dürniz, the daughter of diplomat Count Max von Podewils-Dürniz and his wife Baroness Elisabeth von Hirschberg. She has a doctorate in Art History and in 2003 was appointed Sotheby’s representative in Hamburg. The couple have one child, Wenzel Max, Hereditary Prince (Erbprinz) of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein (b. 1997).[3]

Prince Bernhart is Chairman of the Board of the Fürst Wittgenstein`sche Waldbesitzergesellschaft Forestry company and also joint Managing Director of Verlag Dashoefer’ publishers.[4][5] He was the patron of the 300th Anniversary celebrations for the Schwarzenau Brethren, which were held on his estate in 2008.[6]

Succession to the Hohenstein secundogeniture[edit]

Four dynastic branches of the princely House of Sayn were extant at the beginning of the 20th century, each possessing its own secundogeniture.[7][8] In order of seniority of legitimate descent from their progenitor, Ludwig I, Count of Sayn-Wittgenstein (1532-1605), they were the:[7][8]

  1. Princes (Fürsten) zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, descended from Count Georg (1565-1631)
  2. Princes (Fürsten) zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, descended from Count Christian Ludwig (1725-1797)
  3. Counts zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, descended from Count Georg Ernst (1735-1792)
  4. Princes (Fürsten) zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, descended from Count Ludwig (1571-1634)

Some of these lines had junior branches, dynastic and non-dynastic, the latter including families whose right to the princely title was recognized by the Russian, Prussian and Bavarian monarchies, whereas other morganatic branches used lesser titles in Germany.[8]

On the death of Ludwig, 3rd Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn in 1912, the eldest of his three sons, Hereditary Prince August (1868-1947), became 4th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein and head of the third branch of the House of Sayn.[7][8] Being a childless bachelor, the elder of whose two younger brothers, Georg (1873-1960), had married morganatically, while the younger, Wilhelm (1877-1958), was 49 and yet unmarried, August preserved the name and heritage of his branch of the House of Sayn by adopting Christian Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (1908-1953).[7][8] He was the second son of the late head of the entire House of Sayn, Richard, 4th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (1882-1925), whose eldest son, Gustav Albrecht, 5th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (1907-1944) had inherited the senior line’s fortune and position.[7][8]

In November 1960 Christian Heinrich, being the divorced father of two daughters by his dynastic marriage to Beatrix Grafin von Bismarck-Schönhausen (1921-2006), married Dagmar Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein (1919-2002), elder daughter of his adopted father’s younger brother, Georg, who died seven months before the wedding.[7] As Georg’s children by his morganatic wife, Marie Rühm, (created Baroness von Freusburg by the reigning Prince of Lippe in 1916) had been de-morganatized by declaration of their uncle August on 11 February 1947, her marriage to Christian Heinrich was deemed a dynastic match, ensuring that their son Bernhart would be born in compliance with the house laws of his adoptive ancestors, the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohensteins, as well as being a grandson of the last dynastic male of that family, Prince Georg.[7]



  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Prinz was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Prince. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine form is Prinzessin.
  2. ^ “Person Page – 6461”. 13 June 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  3. ^ Rattmann, Cornelis (April 20, 2004). “Brücken schlagen zur Kunst”. Welt Online. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  4. ^ “Unsere Organisation”. Fürst Wittgenstein`sche Waldbesitzergesellschaft. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  5. ^ “Das Team”. Verlag Dashöfer. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  6. ^ “Newsline: Brethren hold international celebration of their roots in Germany”. COBNews Newsline. Church of the Brethren. August 4, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser Band XIX. “Sayn-Wittgenstein”. C.A. Starke Verlag, 2011, pp.314-338. German. ISBN 978-3-7980-0849-6.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Almanach de Gotha Sayn und Wittgenstein. Justus Perthes, 1944, pp.284-291. French.