Bibelots

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Wilhelm Hohenzollern, German Crown Prince in Exile Signed Photo 1927

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Fine antique photo signed and dated 1927 by the last Crown Prince of Germany, Wilhelm Hohenzollern  (1882 - 1951), eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, smoking a cigarette. On the reverse someone has annotated in ink  'Alexander von Winthofen July 1927', possibly the person to whom the photo was given.

When his great-grandfather and grandfather both died in 1888, six-year-old Wilhelm became the heir-apparent to the German and Prussian thrones. Kaiser Wilhelm II regarded his eldest son with contempt, mainly because of his many affairs with women. In 1914 the Kaiser ordered the construction of Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam for Prince Wilhelm and his family. Completed in 1917, it became the main residence for the Crown Prince for a time.

Despite being only thirty-two and having never commanded a unit larger than a regiment, the German Crown Prince was named commander of the 5th Army in August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I.

After the outbreak of the German Revolution in 1918, both Emperor Wilhelm II and the Crown Prince signed the document of abdication. On 13 November, the former Crown Prince went into exile and was interned on the island of Wieringen (now part of the mainland), near Den Helder in the Netherlands. In the fall of 1921, Gustav Stresemann visited Wilhelm and the Crown Prince voiced his interest in returning to Germany, even as a private citizen. After Stresemann became chancellor in August 1923, Wilhelm was allowed to return after giving assurances that he would no longer engage in politics.

In June 1926, a referendum on expropriating the former ruling Princes of Germany without compensation failed and as a consequence, the financial situation of the Hohenzollern family improved considerably. A settlement between the state and the family made Cecilienhof property of the state but granted a right of residence to Wilhelm and Cecilie. This was limited in duration to three generation. The family also kept the ownership of Monbijou Palace in Berlin, Oels Castle in Silesia and Rheinsberg Palace until 1945. Wilhelm broke the promise he had made to Stresemann to stay out of politics. Adolf Hitler visited Wilhelm at Cecilienhof three times.

After the murder of his friend Kurt von Schleicher, the former Chancellor, in the Night of the Long Knives (1934), he withdrew from all political activities.

When Wilhelm realized that Hitler had no intention of restoring the monarchy, their relationship cooled. Upon his father's death in 1941, Wilhelm succeeded him as head of the House of Hohenzollern

In January 1945, Wilhelm left Potsdam for Oberstdorf for a treatment of his gall and liver problems. His wife Cecilie fled in early February 1945 as the Red Army drew closer to Berlin, but they had been estranged for a long time. At the end of the war, Wilhelm's home, Cecilienhof, was seized by the Soviets. The palace was subsequently used by the Allied Powers as the venue for the Potsdam Conference.

At the end of the war, Wilhelm was captured by French Moroccan troops in Baad, Austria and was interned as a (World War I) war criminal. Transferred to Hechingen, Germany, he lived for a short time in Hohenzollern Castle under house arrest before moving to a small five-room house at Fürstenstraße 16 in Hechingen where he died on 20 July 1951, of a heart attack.

Size: 20 x 15 cm approx

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