Der letze Kaizer in Holland: the Doorn estate

Doorn estate in Holland, the living quarters of the last German emperor in exile. Note the German flag.

Silver beer cans

“Hässlich”, one of the German visitors said, viewing the silver beer cans of the last German Emperor at the Doorn Estate.

Kaizer Wilhelm

The German Empire, around 1914. Poland, in yellow, is not part of Germany.

Kaizer Wilhelm is the son of Frederik III and his grandfather is Wilhelm I, the first German Kaizer. He is the first grandson of Queen Victoria. Tsaar Nicolas II, the last tsaar of Russia, was his second cousin, a grandson of of great aunt Charlotte.

Family tree.

Wilhelm is the last Emperor of Germany, disposed of vy his own people in 1918 by a revolution in Germany, the start of the Weimar Republic, after losing the First World War and being very close to winning.

When the Germans were about to beat the French and English, the very strong tank divisions of the Americans, a recent invention, pushed the Germans back and finally defeated them. From being in the upper hand, the Germans now lost.

The war balance was very negative, 10 million people died, half of them were German man, some 20% (?). This is why the 1st world war is still called the “Great War”.

The sudden revolt in Germany and the English and French allies request for extradiction brought him in a precarious situation. His war time residence was in Spa in Belgium and he suddenly appeared at a nearby Dutch border town near Maastricht asking for exile in neutral Holland.

This was granted by Queen Wilhelmina who resisted later requests from England and France for extradiction. They wanted to put him on trial for war crimes.

He moved in with one of the members of his knight order, the Baron of Amerongen. Wilhelm stayed there for half a year with some 50 staff and almost bankrupted the Baron of Amerongen who had to sell off real estate to support so many people.

The Doorn estate

Wilhelm bought an estate in Doorn in 1919, called “Huize Doorn”, a country house from 18th century with a large park of about 100 hectares. The house has only 24 rooms and was too small to house the 36 wagons of house hold goods Wilhelm was allowed to take from his New Palace in Potsdam. Most of the goods ended up in storage, in the attic.

Huize Doorn is full of memorialia, e.g. portraits, hunting weapons and uniforms. There are also many snuf boxes, tobacco boxes which are richly decorated, fashionable as a gift in those days.

Official uniform

Official uniform, a gift from Scotland

His bedroom and bathroom are relatively modest and separate from “die kaizerin”, as was a custom in those days for the upper class. The bedroom and bathroom of the empress are much bigger and more luxurious. Interesting is her toilet which is hidden in a cupboard. His bathroom is just practical.

Bedroom of Kaizer Wilhelm

Bedroom of Kaizer Wilhelm

Simple bathroom of Kaizer Wilhelm

Bathroom with toiler of the wife of Kaizer Wilhelm

Bath in the bathroom of the wife of Kaizer Wilhelm

Course of history, what went so wrong

Wilhelm may have been in a sorry state from 1918 until he died in 1941. However, he was much better off compared to his second cousin (by marriage) Nicolas, the last Tsaar of Russia. At least he got to rethink why the course of history could have gone so wrong for him.

In support of a glorious career path , it is definitely not wise to rely on war to fight out a conflict. Good steel weapons and many young man as cannon fodder may not be the right equipment, diplomacy is a more powerful.

From 1918 until he died in 1941 he never set foot on German soil again, not even when his wife was burried in Postdam in 1921.

He was allowed to enter as a corpse but refused Hitler's request for a grand funeral and was buried in the garden of the Doorn estate which became a museum after being seized by the Dutch government in 1945.

Further reading

Max Dendemonde, 1968. `Kom eens om een keizer`. Fiction.

WIKI Wilhelm II

WAPEDIA Wilhelm II

WIKI Huis Doorn

Huis Doorn is a small manor house that lies outside Doorn,a small town near Utrecht,Netherlands.The 15th-century house was radically rebuilt in the late 18th century in a conservative taste, then redecorated in the mid-19th century,when the surrounding parkwas laid out as an English landscape garden.

Baroness van Heemstra, the mother of actress Audrey Hepburn, spent most of her childhood living in the house. The house was purchased in 1919 by Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor, as his residence-in-exile (1920-1941) after World War I. During his years in exile the former emperorkept in shape by sawing down the estate's trees by the tens of thousands over the years and splitting the logs into vast stacks of firewood, denuding the matured landscape. Hence he was termed by his enemies the 'woodchopper of Doorn'. The Dutch government seized the manor house and its household effects in 1945 as German property. Many new trees were planted, so that after 60 years the wooded parkland is recovering.

Wilhelm's asylum in the Netherlands was based on family ties with Queen Wilhelmina, whom some claim he embarrassed by his political statements. In fact Wilhelm rarely spoke out in exile. His first wife, Dona, died at Huis Doorn and afterwards her body was taken back to Potsdam where she was buried in the Temple of Antiquities. Wilhelm could only accompany her on her last journey as far as the German border. A happier occasion occurred in 1938 when his grandson, Prince Louis Ferdinand was married to Grand Duchess Kira of Russia in Huis Doorn.

Wilhelm died at Huis Doorn, June 4th 1941, with the Nazi German occupation soldier on guard at the gates of the estate. He is buried in a small mausoleum in the gardens, awaiting his return to Germany upon the restoration of the Prussian monarchy, according to the terms of his will; his wish that no swastikas be displayed at his funeral was not heeded. He did however refuse to have a grand funeral in Berlin which considerably frustrated Hitler who had wanted to walk behind Wilhelm's coffin as his presumed natural successor.

The house is open as a museum, just as Wilhelm left it, with marquetry commodes, tapestries, paintings by German court painters, porcelains and silver. Wilhelm's collections of snuffboxes that belonged to Frederick the Great are considered by some as the most interesting collections.

Five of Wilhelm's beloved dachshunds are buried in the park. A stone is dedicated to the memory of Senta who accompanied the Kaiser during all of World War I and died in 1927 at age 20.

In June each year a devoted band of German monarchists still come to pay their respects and lay wreaths, accompanied by marchers in period uniforms and representatives from modern organisations, such as Tradition und Leben.

More pictures

Dominant global empires around 1900, mainly England, France, United States, Russia, Spain and Germany.

Garden of the Doorn Estate.

Garden of the Doorn Estate.

Kitchen of the Doorn Estate.

Kitchen of the Doorn Estate, the porcelain ware.