On This Day: Emperor Wilhelm II Dies In Exile

  June 4, 2016 at 7:08 pm by

On this day in 1941, emperor Wilhelm II of Germany died in Huis Doorn, The Netherlands, from pulmonary embolism. The Kaiser had been living in exile in The Netherlands after his abdication in 1918, where he was mainly occupied with cutting wood. When the Germans invaded The Netherlands in May 1940, the former emperor refused to accept an asylum offer from the United Kingdom as he did not want to flee for a second time and he did not want to abandon his beloved Huis Doorn.

The emperor looked down on the Nazi’s and their ideology but his second wife Hermine convinced him to send a congratulatory telegram to Hitler when the French surrendered. The Dutch government in exile regarded the telegram as high treason and after the war all Dutch properties of the Hohenzollern family were confisquated by the Dutch state.

German soldiers had been guarding his house since the invasion, as a special honor. Hitler, however, was reported to be angry that the former monarch had an honor guard of German troops and nearly fired the general who ordered them when he found out. Despite his personal animosity toward Wilhelm, Hitler wanted to bring his body back to Berlin for a state funeral, as Wilhelm was a symbol of Germany and Germans during the previous World War. Hitler felt that such a funeral would demonstrate to the Germans the direct descent of the Third Reich from the old German Empire.

The emperor did not sympathise with the Nazi’s and among his wishes he asked that no swastika’s would be shown during his funeral. This wish was not granted: the ribbons of Hitler’s gigantic wreath did contain the symbol. His wish not to be burried in Germany was however respected. The funeral took place in Doorn and was attended by local party officials.

Wilhelm II’s body was embalmed and interred in a mausoleum on the grounds of Huis Doorn that was designed by the emperor himself . He stipulated that his remains could only be returned to Germany when the monarchy was restored.



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