• Germany's news in English

'Disney' castle staff on trial for fraud

DPA/The Local · 9 Jul 2014, 07:59

Published: 09 Jul 2014 07:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
At the start of the trial on Tuesday in the district court of Kaufbeuren, southern Bavaria, the two men, aged 66 and 42, rejected charges of fraud and breach of trust, while they worked for the tourist attraction.
They are accused of not declaring money from special tours of the castle which took place outside of the usual castle opening times.
The men allegedly kept tour earnings 228 times between 2007 and 2010, costing the castle, which famously inspired Walt Disney, €5,000.
But one of their lawyers, Ricarda Lang, described the accused as “pawns” and blamed the management of the site, which attracts more than 1.3 million tourists a year.
The responsibility lies elsewhere, she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “My client has not enriched himself, only taken over an existing system.”

Customers on the special evening tours paid €20 each and the tour guide was given an extra €20, no matter how many people were on the tour. Prosecutors argued that the payments constitute fraud, since the money should have gone into the coffers of the Bavarian State which owns the castle.

However, a former director of the site who was called to testify told the court that Neuschwanstein had long been the scene of irregularities in management.

"There was an entrenched self-service mentality," said Hubert Nikol, who served on the board until 2012. "Vehicles were always missing from the castle's transport fleet," he said in comments reported by Bild newspaper.

Another unnamed former employee also told the paper of "wild parties" after closing time, including in the giant throne room. "You name it, it happened there," he said.

Neuschwanstein was built by the last king of Bavaria, Ludwig II, in the foothills of the Alps in the late 19th Century. It was intended to romanticize the Middle Ages and the operas of Richard Wagner, but the king enjoyed his folly for only six months before his suspicious death at a nearby lake in 1886.

It also gave the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland, and featured as ‘Baron Bomburst’s Vulgarian castle’ in the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The trial continues in mid-July. 

Story continues below…

SEE ALSO: 'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd