The Red Rose Mansion is a big ancestral house in the Czech Republic. It had been passed on to many owners until it was legally acquired by the government to host covert projects. It has been a silent witness to many gruesome activities and violent events, including its burning by Johan Liebert in 1997.
- 1 Location
- 2 The Reading Seminars
- 3 Involvement in the Eugenics Experiment
- 4 Behind the plastered wall
- 5 Nina and Dieter's Visit
- 6 Břevnov Monastery
- 7 Trivia
According to episode 61, its street address is 3 Červeny St., near Brevnov Monastery. To get there, Another Monster provides these directions: "Go south along the river through the Jewish neighborhood, cross Manesuv Bridge, then climb as if circling Prague Castle, to the west. Proceeding further out from the city from Hradcany, through Dejvice, the mansion sits on a small hill overlooking Brevnov, on the way to Ruzyne Airport. The landmarks are a weathervane to the right, and the steeple of St. Alzbeta's Church to the left." Its location is very good strategically because it is, first of all, situated in the middle of a suburb (away from the complications of living in the large cities of the Czech Republic), and, secondly, the house itself is large enough to host many people and conduct seminars. Many characters in the series are attracted to this mansion because of the secrets it holds.
The mansion, according to Jan Suk and Fritz Verdemann's investigation, was built in the last decade of 19th century and was formerly the home of a wealthy Czech nobleman. The roses were there as long as the structure had been standing.
The next owner, a member of the Czechoslovakian National Assembly, was a patriot who pushed his ideals on Czech independence and opened his mansion as a studying ground for the betterment of the Czech people. He was strongly against Hitler and Nazism, so much so that he was assassinated due to his preaching of the negative effects of following Hitler's ideals.
After the patriot was assasinated, the next to own the mansion was a Sudetendeutche from Bohemia who readily joined NSDAP party when he saw how powerful they had become. This time, the mansion was used for the incarceration of German activists and to eventually subject them under torture, which he thought to be so ironic since the previous owner of the mansion rallied for Czech independence and human rights.
An elderly man whom the two men talked with called the place the "Mansion of Terror" and swore that the people taken there were never able to get out. He even recalled a story going around the children that a monster slept in the mansion's basement.
After the Sudeten German owner was killed, several communist officials housed in the mansion but moved out eventually. In the late 1950s, no one owned it anymore (at least legally), so the government, in the form of the Internal Affairs Ministry and Secret Police, used it for secret meetings and such. Bonaparta first came to see the mansion in the early '60s.
Common to the ancestral houses of the late 19th century Prague, the Red Rose Mansion bears Revivalist architecture, as exemplified by its ornate balustrades, high narrow roof and employment of chiaroscuro that consciously echoes Baroque architecture. It quite resembles Gothic style in its spires around the foundation of the house, but the majority of the structure basically follows astounding symmetry and adherence to the design of large cornices and installation of thick buttresses to accentuate its height and strength.
Given the strong aura of the structure, it fits nicely to the purposes it once served: a study ground, a prison, a hideout, and finally, a slaughterhouse.
The Reading Seminars
Franz Bonaparta, a man of great intellect, pursued an experiment which no one had yet tried: changing the personalities of the reading seminar participants in an attempt to mold them into what he considered "Superior Pupils." Many children were selected to participate in this reading seminar, and one of them, coincidentally, was Bonaparta's own son Jaromír Lipsky. He was subsequently kicked out of the reading seminars however, due to his poor performance and lack of distinguishing characteristics attributed to the "Superior Pupil."
The length of the reading seminars' existence may have been around 15-20 years, as the one of the first students who entered the book readings had been in attendance in 1968 and it is known that they started in mid-60s. It is not known, however, whether the seminars were conducted continuously. The latest in attendance, most probably, was Sobotka's group, who went to the readings until 1981.
After the massacre of 1981 (the details of which will be described later), Bonaparta quickly fled to Ruhenheim, his ancestors' homeland and a small village located in southern Germany. The night before communism collapsed in Czechoslovakia, Čapek moved to Frankfurt after receiving an invitation from his friend Milan. He replicated the seminars while putting on a façade of teaching the German language to foreign children, with his own best friend, Milan Kolasch's son, as one of his students. It had been a short-lived endeavor, because of the complications brought about by the psychological impact of the stories on the children.
Participant Selection Process
According to Weber's interview with Lipsky, the selection process would look like this: A man with a large nose and thick glasses (presumably Čapek) would visit a house. He would ask strange questions and show diagrams (it should be recalled that "Sobotka" was subjected to this projective testing too). Although the questions presented to the children were generally harmless (at least on the surface level), it terrified them. Following that, the parent/s of the children would be informed that their child was chosen (note the disuse of the word 'qualified'). If parents did not consent to their child's enrollment in the program, they were not necessarily forced to go, as indicated by the fact that Lipsky's mother gave him the option not to attend if he didn't want to.
As for the age of the participants, Jan Suk learned from his interviewees that the students taken in were between 5-10 years old. While it is apparent that the participants were selected at random, the children's homes should have been near the mansion's vicinity, as they went there every single week at 3 PM on Friday, and rumours of suicide among themselves spread quite fast.
The story books and other stories told through impromptu are as follows (note that there must have been many books in their seminars, and only those written below are well-known):
- The Nameless Monster (Czech: Obluda, Která Nemá Své Jméno)
- The God of Peace (Czech: Bůh Míru)
- The Man With the Big Eyes and the Man With the Big Mouth (Czech: Velkooký, Velkoústý)
- The King of Darkness and the Queen of Light (an impromptu story)
The "Superior Pupil"
A certain Herman Führ was named to be the "Superior Pupil" Bonaparta and Čapek created. His whereabouts, however, are not known; he was nowhere to be found after his participation in the reading seminars. Another Monster points out that before Čapek died, he had been investigating some Czech refugees to collate vital information about the "Superior Pupil."
It is notable, however, that Führ and Johan had come face-to-face in the mansion right before it was burned.
In the chapter 17 of Another Monster, Weber secured an interview with a graduate of the reading seminar whom he addresses as Mr. Sobotka. He was an automotive engineer from the largest industrial company in the Czech Republic.
Sobotka said he went to the Red Rose Mansion once a week to 'learn new things' but he never really knew why he was attending nor what was he supposed to learn. According to him, classes were composed of 6-7 people and extended over a period of two years, always with the same group, but at some point their number would decrease. He was not able to remember the faces of the children he attended with, because first of all, they were never introduced, and as soon as the reading seminar started, they sort of went into a trance, or a nightmare. Sometimes the children would be asked to read one of the tales aloud, but for the abundance of the time it was the facilitator who would read. Even twenty years later, Sobotka could still remember the books they read and unconsciously committed them to memory to a point where he could tell each storybook's content verbatim. He confessed he did understand the meanings of the stories but did not want to be reminded of them.
He also remembered a man in white lab coat showing him designs like Rorschach. Although there was no apparent threat to them for not showing up at the seminars, he felt it was his duty to attend 'religiously'.
One day, the reading seminars stopped due to the absence of Bonaparta. Through a probing question, Sobotka was able to remember this one bit of curious information: One time when Bonaparta told a story and then asked them if they understood, he did not nod because he was not paying attention. Then, his name was called. It did not strike to him as odd at that time, but he later realized that was the first time anyone at the mansion had ever called him by name. The story he told was one Bonaparta created on the spot, the King of Darkness and the Queen of Light. He also said sometimes, he would ask the students to create similar stories, but the result would always disappoint him. The only one which had satisfied him in the past was the story of the monster who was asleep.
Effects of attending the seminars
Just like Kinderheim 511, attending the reading seminars had its own negative effects. First, the children had a tendency to get attached to the stories, to the room where they listened to or read the stories, and then finally, to the story-teller. Secondly, they showed extremely anti-social and sometimes violent behavior to a point where they had to be stopped by the authorities from their rioting. Those who were psychologically incapacitated by the stories took things to the extreme, and one by one the children would commit suicide. Survivors often lived miserable lives, and if they had families, it often ended up with their own children committing, in one way or another, suicide. Their marriages also did not last for more than two years, with exception to one anonymous participant.
Some participants of the book readings have been interviewed by the Czech detective Jan Suk. One of them, Mr. Erno, gave the following response to Suk's initial question:
"I'm not feeling sad. I've always thought that the mansion was my emotional foundation, and as I was viewing the image of the burned mansion, I though I'd feel very sad. But there is not a bit of sadness anywhere in me."
When he was probed by Verdemann if he was feeling nostalgic about the idea, he said:
"I'm not sure I know. Sadness... nostalgia, I'm not sure."
This implies that the ability of the participants to feel emotion and emphathize has been somewhat reduced by the book readings.
Another participant was interviewed and Verdemann inquired whether or not he had any major problems concerning his family life that he could associate to attending the book readings. It can be noted that even though the man was narrating a sad fact of his life, the facial expression he wore was inappropriate. He confessed that both his sons committed suicide with the same cheerful face and it seemed that he is not even bothered by it. This is very much like the case of Wolfgang Grimmer, who needed to attend a school to learn how to react properly given a specific situation.
Another participant was put into inquiry, and when he was asked what he liked the most about the story books read, he responded by saying,
"They all took me away from a different world. Crying when you're sad, being happy and being fearful, all those feelings just seem to go away I'd say. [...] I didn't feel anything about anything. Even your name disappears. I didn't want it. Think about it, that's true freedom! That's what it felt like anyway."
When Verdemann tried to make him remember Bonaparta, it was revealed that they didn't even know the name of the man who conducted the seminars.
Čapek's own students also went through the same frenzied experience, but the people in the district where he taught did not at once attribute the deaths of the children to him. The mothers of the children were even encouraging when he told them, "'I must try harder to create children strong enough to survive," and "This is a groundbreaking educational system, created by a highly respected friend of mine, and as his successor, I am bringing it here according to his wishes."
It can be concluded that the children did not come out 'normal' after attending the readings.
Involvement in the Eugenics Experiment
When the orchestrators of the Eugenics Experiment created their "perfect children", the kids were allowed to live with their mother in the Three Frogs near Čedok bridge in Prague. When the children were older, Bonaparta and Čapek took away Nina and placed her in a room somewhere in the mansion. There, she lived in total isolation for weeks. Having to remain in the pitch black room, she could not differentiate between directions; left or right, up or down. Food would appear from nowhere, and Nina would count the meals she ate, but eventually there came a point when all those numbers diminished.
One day, light appeared, and the door opened. From behind it, Bonaparta emerged and she was taken out of the room. When they arrived at the function hall (see the pictures below in the Brevnov section), she realized a party was being held. Everyone looked at her and said, "Is this the child who will lead us?" Then, the waiters gave everyone in the room, all 42 people, a glass of wine. They made a toast to the success of their endeavour, and, one by one, fell to the floor, dead. Nina, never having witnessed anything like this before, was terrified and froze in her position.
Murder of 46 people
It was in early 1980s when the Eugenics Experiment was stopped, and the Red Rose mansion, having hosted several activities related to the experiment and the procedural incarceration of the young Nina, witnessed one of Bonaparta's most daring acts: the poisoning of the 42 people who knew about the experiment's existence. This was accomplished so that Nina would not be subjected to the plans laid out long before she was born, and also so that the people who knew about her mother's existence would be eliminated. To complete the heinous act, Bonaparta had to ask Čapek to kill 4 innocent people (a man, a woman, and two children) to cover for him, Viera, and the twins, totaling to 46 people secretly killed.
"You must not become monsters"
Bonaparta instructed Nina to flee the mansion and run as far away as she could. He kneeled before her and said, "You are both beautiful jewels, that's why you can't become monsters." After that, Nina ran out of the mansion, not feeling the pain from the roses' thorns cutting on her arm and clothes. She ran until she found the Čedok bridge and finally the Three Frogs. There, Nina found her brother, still dressed as "her", clutching a copy of Bonaparta's The Nameless Monster. She said to him, "I'm Home," and he answered, "Welcome Back," This very same conversation would be brought up later but in the reverse manner.
Behind the plastered wall
Some time after the massacre, Bonaparta replaced the painting hanging above the fireplace. When the concerned government officials learned the fate of the 46 people inside, they buried the bodies, disinfected the whole room, barred the windows shut and cemented the door so that no one could get in. The whole activity was taken care of by the Czech Secret Police and the ownership of the mansion was placed on the hands of the then powerful Secret Police officer Karel Ranke. For years, no one ever tried to enter, nor visit the mansion, save for Lipsky who kept on visiting to get inspiration for his puppet plays. It is not known whether or not Lipsky ever noticed the discoloured portion of the north wall in the second floor.
When Inspector Lunge was on vacation in Prague, he was able to piece together some facts about Johan and the person who orchestrated many experiments on behalf of the Czechoslovakian government. After meeting with the former Secret Police Captain Karel Ranke, he was able to get permission to visit the Red Rose Mansion and take down manually, using a shovel, the plastered wall on the north end of the second floor.
The Monster's Love Letter to the Woman
After destroying the weak wall concealing the door to Maria Theresa's Hall , Lunge found a darkened room that smelled like ethanol. Using his shovel, he removed the wooden boards nailed onto the room's windows to let the sun shine through. As soon as there was enough light, he started walking around, contemplating how many people might have died there. He also saw a portrait of a beautiful woman hanging
above the fireplace. Lunge remembered seeing her face within Bonaparta's sketchbook, and he speculated that they were most likely the same person. Upon discovering the painting, Lunge went back to the same room the next day to examine it thoroughly. He decided to take down the woman's portrait and behind it he saw a letter supposedly written by Franz Bonaparta to her. Lunge's impression of it is that it looks like a draft to a novel. The letter reads:
- A Love Letter from the Monster to the Beauty:
- I've been watching you, I wanted to devour you whole, but instead, everything about you consumed me. When I was falling apart, how did I look to you? When I was falling apart the object you gave me.. you left me a beautiful jewel. Those twins were looking as if they were blessed with eternal life. The most sinful deed is to take away a person's name. Let's get your name back. I'll give you your name back. Your name... is Anna. Right now I'm sad, sad, sad, sad.
Nina and Dieter's Visit
During Nina and Dieter's stay in Prague to find Johan, they traveled around so that Nina could recall bits and pieces of her memory associated with the events there. As both of them walked around the alleys, Dieter constantly asked her if she recalled any landmarks. Nothing would pop out of Nina's mind at first, and Dieter would always say it was useless roaming around an unfamiliar place. But then, Nina saw a weather vane on her right and a church spire on the left, and then, turning around, she saw the western façade of the Red Rose Mansion.
As they entered the mansion, Nina swore she knew the place. When she was climbing up the stairs, she set her hand on the railing, thereby getting it dirty with dust and soot. It should be noted that the mansion was never tended to even after Lunge had entered the premises. She recalled the very fear those stairs instilled on her.
When they arrived on second floor, she and Dieter saw the door formerly sealed with plaster. Dieter approached it while Nina stood, feeling nostalgic. Dieter remarked that the door appeared as though it had once been sealed to the inside of the wall. Nina tried to push the door back and, upon seeing what was inside, recalled the murder that happened there a very long time ago (which at that time, Nina thought, was what Johan saw). She passed out due to the shock those memories gave her.
Nina was rescued by Lipsky during one of his usual trips to the mansion. He took her to a hospital and let her and Dieter stay at his apartment near Karel Bridge. Three months later, Nina asked Lispky the reason why he was at the mansion during the time of her collapse. He said that as he walked through the building's hallways, images would come to his mind and he could create stories from them. One day, Nina entered Lipsky's work room, finding his marionettes. He told Nina the story he made, and from there revelations appeared one by one.
He showed Nina his collection of picture books, all of which were written by his father Franz Bonaparta using many different pen names. He recounted how he was kicked-out of the reading seminars held at the mansion because he was not a superior pupil. Lipsky claimed he understood what the stories meant after reading them so many times.
At that time, Johan was also in Prague, trying to trace his roots and recalling the memories Nina told him. He was able to find out the location of the Red Rose Mansion after some rigorous searching, and when he actually arrived at the room where the massacre happened, he said to himself "It's as if I've come here for the first time."
Johan talked to his mother's portrait, telling her that she could not have told them apart, as he is she, just he is his mother. His recovered memory of her made him understand where he came from and what he is supposed to do.
Then, Johan poured lighter fluid to the room (because lighter fluid, or butane, combusts faster), and then told his mother to let the whole place burn down.
During this he encountered Hermann Fuhr, who was the superior pupil and told him about his scenery for a doomsday.
After the fire
The fire that so quickly consumed the mansion and left only the strongest parts of the structure left the arson unit of the Czech police astounded. It did not dawn to them quickly that butane was used to help spread the fire quickly, but they were positive neither kerosene nor gasoline could have made such damage.
The investigation of the arson incident included excavation in the garden area of the mansion. The police were surprised to find skeletons buried beneath the rose bushes, and one after another they would appear. The presence of the skeletons made the arson a bigger case and was forwarded to the headquarters.
A number of 46 skeletons were found.
A few days after the investigation, Lipsky, Dieter, and Nina decided to pay another visit to the mansion, only to find the charred remains of the burned down, once beautiful structure. By the time they arrived, the gate had already been locked up and refused to open despite their forceful shaking. Lipsky admitted the place was important to both of them, because of the memories associated with it. Looking up the torn roof, Nina recalled what Johan saw there, what he went through while running the rose bushes and how he got out. Dieter accounted seeing the news of 46 people being found there, thereby attesting to Nina's visions of the place. Lipsky also recalled some bad times in his life, and then the three agreed that instead of agonizing over the past, they should focus on creating happy memories in present time.
Following the directions given in Another Monster chapter fifteen, one of the series' fans determined the location of the building the Red Rose Mansion was modeled after, also known as the Břevnov Monastery, found in the Břevnov district of Prague 6.
Another fan who was traveling in Prague paid a visit to the monastery. The individual uploaded pictures they took while touring it onto their blog, which can be found in six separate parts: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI. A few of these photos are seen in the gallery below.
This gallery contains the before and after pictures of the Red Rose Mansion