Munich suburb Grünwald: Where the rich live

The Munich suburb of Grünwald is a myth full of luxury and ostentation. But there are also normal people who play brass band music and accommodate refugees.

Blacky in the pool.

Blackpool? Blacky in the pool! Grunwald, 1968 Photo: sz photo/laif

MUNICH taz | When Thomas Lindbüchl makes acquaintances on vacation, he says: “I come from the south of Munich.” That ends the topic. The 56-year-old would never state Grünwald as his place of residence. Because then he needs “some time to explain that there are not only rich people here, but also normal people”. Who do not live in the mega-villa, but like Lindbüchl, a trained banker, in the old, small semi-detached house of the grandparents.

Grünwald – the name of the 11,000-inhabitant community south of Munich is known throughout Germany. Grünwald is discredited or envied as the home of celebrities, actors, managers, rich heirs and the well-known football stars of FC Bayern Munich. When you hear the name Grünwald, your thoughts rattle: Rich mansions, large pools, exclusive parties, champagne, expensive sleds in the underground car park – and a tax haven. A shout like thunder and lightning.

Grünwald has also become what it is because of the rich. And the local population has to deal with it somehow. “We were always the normal ones,” remembers Thomas Lindbüchl. The man with the short gray full beard and the earring comes from Grünwald and will probably always stay in Grünwald. He sits on the municipal council for the CSU, is active in the brass band, with the “Freunde Grünwald” and in the Catholic Maria-Königin-Kirche.

“Many just want to live here and not integrate into the community,” says Lindbüchl. Let’s “live each other”. He had a schoolmate “from the rich area”. He always took him home to his own indoor pool. Lindbüchl showed the friend the beautiful bathing spots on the Isar. A gravel footpath and cycle path runs along the high bank of the river. It goes steeply far down to the Isar, which reaches Munich a few kilometers north. The view over the deep valley can be found movingly beautiful.

This is how the rich make themselves unpopular

Directly behind it is a construction site shielded by metal fences and six meter high hedges. A huge property can only be guessed at, there is private security in front of the entrance. Everyone in Grünwald knows that a villa is being built there for the son of a well-known rental car entrepreneur. Construction has been going on for years, and over time the place has become a nuisance. This is how the rich make themselves unpopular.

Ulli Portenlänger ran the “Alten Wirt” in Grünwald’s center for 33 years until March 2022, a traditional Bavarian inn. On the first reasonably warm day of the year, he’s sitting in the property’s historic apple orchard. The 63-year-old thinks for a few seconds, then he says: “There are the two Grünwalds.” An invisible border seems to separate the place.

Well-known actors used to come and go in the “Alten Wirt”, says Portenlänger. They made films in the Bavaria Filmstudios in the north of the municipality. As a boy he had seen Gert Fröbe and Heinz Rühmann. The actors were followed by managers and bosses, then the footballers. The following were or are located in Grünwald: Joachim “Blacky” Fuchsberger, Senta Berger, Franz Beckenbauer, Uschi Glas, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Oliver Kahn. Lothar Matthäus trains the Grünwalder E-Youth along with his own son. Recent FC Bayern players include Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng.

primal green

Grünwald is one of the richest communities in Germany. The child care offers with small groups are considered excellent, the ring bus service is free, there are spacious sports facilities. Ingrid Reinhart, 73, appreciates that too. She moved to Grünwald with her family almost four decades ago because she found an affordable apartment here. She is an original Green, co-founded the local branch and has been a member of the municipal council since 1990. Everyone knows the lively woman.

If she gets a little carried away, she rails against the “wealth of puke” and mocks: “You meet a lot of Porsche drivers at Aldi in Straßlach”, the neighboring town. But Reinhart sees that things are being held together in Grünwald. She heads the voluntary refugee helper group. The newly arrived people from the Ukraine were mainly accommodated privately just as well as the refugees in autumn 2015.

“Anyone who comes to us should keep their dignity,” says Reinhart. Many other communities would complain that they were overwhelmed with the refugees. “But we’re not. That’s Grünwald too, even if it doesn’t fit the cliché.”


In turn, the real estate agents stand for the Geld-Grünwald. They broker villas and building land that cost millions of euros. “Discrete handling” is guaranteed. On portals there is a “mansion”, ten rooms for around six million euros. Or a two-villa property, 20 rooms, 14.5 million.

In the villa district, the streets are wide and almost deserted. There are SUVs, Porsches and a few Teslas in the parking lots and in the driveways. Most mailboxes have no names, at one villa there are bells with two terms: “residential building” and “caretaker”. You can see curved hipped roofs, no-frills bungalows, playful castles or magnificent buildings that are supposed to be oriented to neoclassicism in some way. In its entirety, this wild growth is tantamount to an architectural-aesthetic insult.

Another form of Geld-Grünwald is practiced in a house on the through road to Bad Tölz. There are many letterbox companies here. With a particularly low rate for trade tax, the community is known as a tax haven. The scam: anyone who runs a company elsewhere opens the company’s dummy headquarters in Grünwald, a mailbox. The tax rate set by the municipalities is 490 percent in Munich and an unrivaled 230 percent in Grünwald. So you pay less than half the trade tax.

The house has an estimated 100 company names in tiny letters on the five mailboxes. people are not to be found. It is already physically impossible that so many companies have real jobs here. “That’s tax evasion,” says the Green Reinhart, “it cries out to heaven.”

extended family

Grünwald’s CSU mayor Jan Neusiedl doesn’t want to talk about this or anything else, he ignores a request for a meeting from the taz. The CSU councilor Thomas Lindbüchl justifies the local politics: “A mayor should not and cannot distance himself from the business.” The letterbox companies alone did not make Grünwald rich.

Although he has almost always lived here, the innkeeper Ulli Portenlänger is something of a Grünwald escapee. The development took a while, on his 50th birthday he left his wife and family. Since then he has been living with his boyfriend, a man from Colombia, who are now married.

“We proceeded slowly,” he says, “you have to give people time.” There was no hostility and no war of roses. Now, says Portenlänger, they live in an “extended family”. He still frequents the “Alten Wirt” and gives the trainees tutoring for the vocational school. And with his spouse he shows himself openly everywhere. That works – in Grünwald.

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