About the Foundation
Who we are
Dr. Nikolai Riesenkampff
Nikolai was born in Heidelberg, grew up in Palatinate and studied in Heidelberg and Freiburg. He also holds a PhD in Law. He started his career by working for Bertelsmann / Lycos in Germany and the USA. Afterwards he helped to set up and ran the online payment service Skrill, which was later acquired and is currently part of the Paysafe Group. Nikolai was also the chairman of his favorite German football club 1. FC Kaiserslautern and founded the Riesenkampff Foundation in 2016. He recently founded and currently runs Trember, a video platform. Nikolai is passionate about football, windsurfing and sailing.
Dr. Joachim Riesenkampff
Joachim was born in Ostrowo (Poland) and is a a retired ophthalmologist. After graduating in 1970, he started practising at the University Eye Clinic Heidelberg and afterwords took over his father's practice in Pirmasens. In 1992 he founded the Ophthalmology Clinic in Heidelberg - a surgical center which he was leading until 2007. From 2000 to 2010 he was also the head of the AOZ (Eye Operations Center) in Fulda. After his retirement he is dedicating more time in researching family history, renewing ties with Estonia and helping families in need.
Marie v. Maydell
Marie was born in Frankfurt am Main. She completed her law studies in Freiburg im Breisgau, Lausanne (Switzerland) and Berlin. During her training she worked for law firms in Tallinn, Brussels, Los Angeles and Paris. Marie has been working as a lawyer since 2001 and specialises in (international) family law. She has been a partner at the Meyer-Köring law firm in Bonn since 2011. Marie is married and has three children. She enjoys sailing and traveling.
Egle is of Lithuanian origin and completed her Political Science studies in Vilnius. She previously worked for the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed a fintech company’s HR department and brought a Lithuanian technology education initiative to Germany. Egle joined the foundation in 2019 and has been managing the foundation's activities in Germany and Estonia. Besides ongoing projects, her responsibilities include the set-up, launch and growth of the codesters.club programme. She enjoys swing dancing, sailing and learning new things.
Curriculum Lead at codesters.club
Originally from Argentina, Jose has already been living in Estonia since 2013. He's a former lecturer and CTO at GameLoft's Indonesia office. With more than 13 years in mobile apps and games development, Jose joined the Foundation's codesters.club programme to lead the program's curriculum as well as mentor its pupils and other mentors. Jose is also a musician and devotes most of his freetime to his biggest passion - creating music and performing it.
The Riesenkampff family
The Riesenkampff family is most likely to originate from Lower Saxony. The uninterrupted family line begins in the middle of the 16th century with Jost Riesenkampff, who acquired the citizenship of the city of Hildesheim in 1542 and was also mentioned in a tax receipt as the owner of the house number six on the old market.
Two of his sons moved to Reval (Tallinn), Heinrich the elder of the two reached Reval in 1570 and had no descendants. His younger brother Hans, who settled there in 1590, was married three times and had nine children. His three wives, two of whom died relatively early, were daughters of respected Reval merchants, which suggests that he was a well recognized member of the local community. Five of their children were sons, who passed the family name further on.
At first the Riesenkampffs were mostly merchants, later we find them as lawyers, notaries, doctors, farmers and members of the military. There are records about nine family ennoblements in the 17th and 18th centuries altogether. There have also been variations of the surname in different regions, for example: Rosenkampff, residing in Livonia, Sweden and Finland, was ennobled 1687, and Rehekampff from the island of Ösel and Bessarabia, ennobled in 1780.
Until the First World War, members of the family resided far beyond Estonia and Livonia. They were found in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland and Bessarabia. The Russian Revolution brought about a clear change and after almost all Baltic Germans were resettled to Germany in 1939, with very few exceptions, no family members could remain in the Baltic States. Today most of the family members are based in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Reval (Tallinn) remained the center of the family up until 1939. Here the family had two mayors (Karl Philip Riesenkampff and Karl Alexander Justus Riesenkampff), a large number of city council members, many members and elders of the great guild as well as the members of the Brotherhood of Black Heads. Many successful merchants, doctors, lawyers and notaries shaped the life of the old Hanseatic city. As depicted in the old maps of Tallinn, the city had a Riesenkampff street (which was renamed into J. Vilmsi street in 1923) as well as a Riesenkampff bathing establishment in Kalamaja district.
The German language and culture dominated Estonia and Reval (now Tallinn) for almost seven centuries, even during the reigns of Denmark, Sweden and Russia. The history of this cultural interdependence began in 1227 with the occupation of Reval by the Order of the Knights of the Sword and ended in the 19th century with the rise of Estonian nationalism.
The Baltic Germans consisted of nobility and townspeople, but never made up more than ten per cent of the total population. The highest number of 180,000 Germans in the Baltic region was reached around 1880. However, emigration, declining birth rates, "mixed marriages", a surplus of women, wars and revolutions caused their numbers to fall steadily.
Despite this, the Baltic Germans were able to retain their character over the centuries, characterized by the German language, Lutheranism, German law and the Hanseatic town order. They formed an upper social class, but were open-minded and strived for independence. The Baltic Germans emphasized a sense of family, strong individuality and a sense of community.
The history of the Riesenkampff family shows the social permeability and the travelling nature of the Baltic Germans, who were active in various countries and positions.
Audio Tour: On the traces of the Riesenkampff family
This audio tour will take you through historic streets and buildings related to the history of the family. It has been researched and designed by a former student of Kadrioru Saksa Gymnasium, Mihkel Marcus.