JULY 31 2008 05:20h
After he was released on his “yearly vacation”, General Cermak cooled off in the pool of his huge castle Klokovec near Krapinske Toplice.
General Ivan Cermak will spend his three weeks leave from the prison cells in Scheveningen on his land, cooling off from the August heat in his pool. He will be able to see the grapes in his vineyard ripening, the vineyard having 15 to 20 thousand plants. The grapes in the vineyard vary from Pinot, Sylvaner, Sauvignon, Welschriesling, Rhine Riesling and yellow Muscat. The general must not leave his property, because one of the conditions for his “vacation” was home arrest. We checked to see if he had arrived at his huge castle by taking photos from a plane. We saw him cooling off in his pool on his Klokovec property that he bought in the early nineties for 180 thousand German marks.
Klokovec Castle, the pearl of Croatia’s Zagorje
The park around the castle is a monument to park architecture, and is 4.32 hectares in size. Castle Klokovec, a classic building with a rectangular base, is turned towards the alley through the park and the valley with its main southern wall. The simple northern wall with seven columns of windows is decorated with shallow arches, and a separating feature between floors of the building.
The alley is located in front of the south face of the building, on the southern slope above the valley of the Kosteljina creek. Its area is small, around 0.5 hectares, without any stylistic markings.
Surrounded by the alley, in front of the southern face, was a garden divided into four fields. Considering the classic spatial concept, the garden took more of an aesthetic role, making up for the lack of decorations by flower beds.
It is not known how old the alley is, but from the age of the trees there, it can be concluded that it was created in the mid 19th Century, certainly before 1861.
The castle was once owned by Gustav pl. Ozegovic-Barlabasevacki, the brother of the famous Illyrian baron Metel Ozegovic, the owner of Bela. In 1848, the Klokovec residence was in control of thirty villages. The castle was inherited by Gustav and Metel pl. Friedberg, who sold the property in 1926 to Djuro Miletic, a royal council member, of the table of seven, who was retired. After World War Two, the ground level of the castle was adapted for catering services. Today it is a representative residential building inhabited by Cermak with his second wife Marijana. He thoroughly renovated the castle in the early nineties, and it belongs to the third category of monuments.
Talking with the neighbours in front of the local store, we found out that general Cermak is a very good landlord who paid the renovation workers every Saturday whilst they were working on the castle, and paid them in cash off the record. But one of them mentioned that in those times, everybody paid off the record. The businessman whose company was carrying out the renovations was a Muslim, and during the work, the whole roof of the building collapsed, but luckily there were no casualties.
Everyone that we talked to said that Cermak was a good man, and that he is our Croatian general. However nobody knows how a small businessman that was installing air-conditioning and cooling devices before the war, gained so much wealth. General Cermak, according to them, was the only person willing to pay 180,000 German marks for the Klokovec property and castle, and later he invested millions and millions of kuna to get the castle into order. Today it can be called the “Pearl of the Croatian Zagorje”. General Cermak could rarely be seen walking around in Krapinske Toplice (Krapina Springs), but they saw his first wife Dada quite often driving around in a Jaguar with the license plates “DADA”.
Also, Cermak connected the Klokovec castle directly to the water pipes of the hospital, so that he had no problems with water during the whole year, and the pool was regularly filled with fresh water.
After a summer “vacation” and rest from the prison cells, Cermak will return to the Hague for trial, but well rested and with a tan that he did not get at the seaside, but next to his pool, drinking wine from his cellars and carrying out business talks over the phone.
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