The funeral of an Emperor

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A historical fact that is often forgotten is that the last German emperor did not die in Germany but in the Netherlands. In the town of Doorn on 4 June 1941, at the age of 82. The Nazis had already taken control of the Netherlands for more then a year at that stage.

Wilhelm II lived in Exile in Doorn since 1920.

He had grown to distrust Hitler. Hearing of the murder of the wife of former Chancellor Schleicher, he said “We have ceased to live under the rule of law and everyone must be prepared for the possibility that the Nazis will push their way in and put them up against the wall!”

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Der Kaiser  once entertained Hermann Göring in his home in Doorn, and sent Hitler a congratulatory telegram  Germany invaded  France. But the Führer refused to entertain the idea of a return for the monarch who he thought had subjected Germany to a humiliating defeat, and kept Doorn under military guard during the Nazi occupation.

Wilhelm II once claimed to be disgusted to call himself a German, after the Kristallnacht, he also disowned his 4th born son after that. He said the following “I have just made my views clear to Auwi in the presence of his brothers. He had the nerve to say that he agreed with the Jewish pogroms and understood why they had come about. When I told him that any decent man would describe these actions as gangsterisms, he appeared totally indifferent. He is completely lost to our family”.

Even though  Hitler had wanted a state funeral in Berlin with himself in a prominent role, Hitler thought that this would establish him the link of a direct descent of the Third Reich from the old German Empire. However Wilhelm II’s family insisted on respecting instructions he’d given in 1933 that he was to be buried in Doorn if Germany was not a monarchy at the time of his death.

1024px-Mausoleumwhilhelm The funeral took place on June 9th 1941 .A  delegation of Nazi officials led by Arthur Seyss-Inquart was allowed to attend as well as a Wehrmacht guard of honour, and Wilhelm’s wishes that Nazi regalia were not be displayed at his funeral were not adhered to.

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Kaiser Wilhelm II- Political asylum in the Netherlands

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On 23 January 1920, the government of the Netherlands refused to extradite the former Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II. His aggressive foreign policy and support for Austro-Hungary in 1914 led to the first world war. After the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, he was charged with “a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties” and the allies demanded his extradition. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands refused and granted him political asylum.

A request to the Dutch government for Wilhelms’ surrender had been made necessary by his flight; on 10 November 1918 the – soon former– Kaiser had crossed the Dutch borders.

By early November 1918, things were looking dismal for the Central Powers on all fronts of the Great War. The kaiser was at German army headquarters in the Belgian resort town of Spa when news reached him, in quick succession, of labor unrest in Berlin, a mutiny within the Imperial Navy and what looked like the beginnings of full-fledged revolution in Germany.

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From every direction, it seemed, came calls for peace, reform and the removal of the kaiser. Wilhelm II was told that the German General Staff would make a unified, orderly march home to Germany when the war ended, but it would not defend him against his internal opponents.

Faced with this lack of support, the kaiser agreed to abdicate his throne on November 9, 1918. Shortly after that, Wilhelm, the last of the powerful Hohenzollern monarchs, traveled from Spa to the Netherlands , never to return to German soil.

In January 1920, Wilhelm headed the list of so-called war criminals put together by the Allies and made public after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

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In the Versailles Treaty, the Allied Powers stated that the Kaiser should be prosecuted for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties. What did they mean, and where did this formula come from?
The Preliminary Peace Conference decided at its plenary session of 25 January 1919 to create, for the purpose of inquiring into the responsibilities relating to the war, a Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties (hereafter Commission on Responsibility), composed of fifteen members.6 It was charged to inquire into and report upon the following points:

  1. the responsibility of the authors of the war;
  2. the facts as to breaches of the laws and customs of war committed by the forces of the German Empire and their Allies, on land, on sea, and in the air during the present war;
  3. the degree of responsibility for these offences attaching to particular members of the enemy forces, including members of the General Staffs and other individuals, however highly placed;
  4. the constitution and procedure of a tribunal appropriate for the trial of these offences;
  5. any other matters cognate or ancillary to the above which may arise in the course of the enquiry, and which the Commission finds useful and relevant to take into consideration.

The Netherlands,which had remained neutral during WWI, under the young, strong-willed Queen Wilhelmina, refused to extradite him for prosecution and Wilhelm remained in the Netherlands, where he settled in the municipality of Doorn.

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Personal tragedy struck when his son, Joachim, committed suicide later in 1920. Augusta, his wife and the mother of his seven children, died barely a year later. In 1922, Wilhelm remarried and published his memoirs, proclaiming his innocence in the promotion of the Great War.

Unlike Wilhelmina and the rest of the Dutch royal family, Wilhelm turned down Winston Churchill’s offer of asylum in Britain in 1940, as Hitler’s armies pushed through Holland, choosing instead to live under German occupation. He died the following year.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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