Frederich Wilhelm was the Crown Prince of Prussia and the German Empire. He was the son of Wilhelm II and Empress Auguste-Victoria. He was raised to be the Kaiser like his father. There seems to have been a stormy relationship between father abd son. He married Princess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They had six children. They were highly publicizedc as the perfect German family. The marriage was, however, not as successful as publically portrayed. During World War I he criticized his father for not aggresively pursuing the War. The Hohenzollern family would be doposed as a result of World War I and he would never rule. He involved himself with the NAZIs in the 1930s. The Crown Prince after renoincing his rights was allowed to return to Germany which was at the time the Weimar Republic. He led an aimless life. He was separated from his wife who he never relly cared for and had many meningless short relationships. Like two of his brothers (Eitel Friederich and August Wilhelm), he joined the Stahlhelm, a far right group of war veterans hostile to democracy and committed to the need for order and discipline. e eventually joined the NAZI Party, after they seized power, like two of his younger brothers. He heaped lavish praise on Hitler after the victories in the West (1940).
He was the son of Wilhelm II and Empress Auguste-Victoria.
Kaiser Wilhelm's upbringing and family background equipped him ideally to play the kind of peace keeping role played by his cousin Edward VII. This role was, however, not to his liking. He rejected the liberal leanings of his parents and instead the belicose leanings of the Prussian Junkers appealed to him. The result was to be disastorous for Germany, Europe
and the Hohenzollern dynasty. While not the monster rprtrayed in British war-time propaganda, the bombastic Kaisser proved until Hitler to be one of the most disatrous rulers in German history.
Frederich Wilhelm's mother was Augusta Victoria von Schleswig-Holstein (1858-1921). She was born in Dolzig, Silesia which is now part of Poland. She was the opposite of the Crown Princes's grandmother. Sge had few seious thoughts and her husband insisted on obedience. He told her "My word is law." She was extremely anti-Cathloic and hated the British. The Crown Prince, like his brothers, came to be much closer to her than to his father. She died in exile at Haus Doorn in the Netherlands. Her father was Frederick von Schleswig-Holstein, Duke of Schleswig-Holsein (1829- ). Her mother was Princess Adelaide von Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1835- ).
HBC at this time has only limited information on Frederuich Wilhelm's brothers and sister. The Kaiser's family consisted of seven children, including six sons, but only one daughter. Many photographs exist of the family. HBC has so far been able to find very little information about the individual children. Even infornmation on Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm. There is probably a good bit of information available in German-language sources. HBC has, however, been able to find very little available in English sources. We would be very interesrted in any information that our German readers could offer. Some fought in World War I. The family followed their father into exile after World War I, but many eventually returned to Germany. They apparently thought that the NAZIs would restore the monarchy.
Wilhelm II's oldest son was born in Potsdam in 1882. The 6 year old Prince Frederich Wilhelm officially became the Crown Prince when his father assumed the throne. The Prince remembered carefree days at the Marmorpalais. The family during the summer lived at the New Palais in Potsdam and in winter he was with the family at the big Palace in Berlin. His relationship with his father became more formal after he became Kaiser. At age 10, Prince Wilhelm received the rank of Lieutenant of the First Infantry Regiment, in accordance with tradition.
HBRC has relatively little infornmation on how Frederich Wilhelm was dressed as a boy. We do know that as a younger boy he wore dresses. Some of the dresses were styled rather plainly with sailor styling, but others are frilly dresses that could have easily been wore by girls. Some images show his younger brothers wearing Fauntleloy suits and sailor suits, presumably he wore the same outfits as a younger boy. We know he commonly wore sailor suits. While we have only limitecd omages at this time, photographs presumably exist that will eventually allow us to more fully sketch out what he wore asca boy. We do know that he wore cadet-styled uniforms as a younger teenager, presumably the uniform at the military academy that he attended. He also had formal military uniforms that he worn on special occasions.
Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm was commissioned a lieutenant in the First Gurd Regiment as part of a traditional crenemony in Potsdam. This was ceremonial event. Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm at age 14 years old with his younger brother Eitel Friedrich he entered the military Academy at Ploen in Schleswig-Holstein, where he became a cadet. After 4 years at Ploen he graduated on February 22, 1900. Three days later he began his officer training in Potsdam, which had been shortened from 9 months to 9 weeks. As he was 18 years old and had become of age, according to the Hohenzollern House law, he began active service with his regiment on May 6, 1900. After returning from a trip to the Ottoman Empire, the Crown Prince was promoted to Captain on the occasion of his 21st birthday.
When Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm was 14 years old, another important stage of his life began. Together with his younger brother Eitel Friedrich he was sent to the military Academy at Ploen in Schleswig-Holstein, where he became a cadet. It was the rule in the Hohenzollern family, that every Prince had to learn a trade. Wilhelm decided to become a lathe operator (a drechsler). After 4 years at Ploen he graduated on February 22, 1900.
Frederich Wilhelm, like his brothers, had a over-blown sence of their own importance and abilities. The Prince, for example, thought that he was a talented artist. As a boy he made rather crude drawings which he would present to the members of court. One of the Empresses's ladies-in-waiting wrote, it is a pity "... that our young Princes think so much of everthing they do. They never seem to compare it with what others do, but believe it to be admirable simply because they did it." [Van der Kiste, 1999, p. 86.] The Prince turned out be in many ways like the Prussian princes that so offened her when she came to Berlin to marry Crown Prince Friederich. They were loud, boisterous, and dismissive of women. He also became a notorious womanizer.
For the occasion of the Crown Prince's coming of age, many guests attended the celebrations. Among the royal guests of Europe were Kaiser Franz Josef of Austria, King Umberto of Italy and the Duke of York, later the English King George V. The Crown Prince took part in active social life. A regimental comrade, Magnus, Freiherr von Braun, the father of the future rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, said of Friedrich-Wilhelm "The Crown Prince was an open, dependable comrade who cheerfully did his duty. The Ladies liked him because of his charm. He was honorable, tactful and a Grand Seigneur of the first class."
The death of his great grandmother Queen Victoria brought the Crown Prince to London in 1901, when he accompanied his father, the Kaiser. A few days after the funeral, on February 4, 1901, his godfather and his father's first cousin King Edward VII decorated him with the Order of the Garter. The Crown Prince on a another trip to England behaved so badly that his father was furious. He had given a family keepsake (a confirmation ring given him by Queen Victoria) to a female liason. The Kaiser refused to allow him to represent Germany at King Edward's corronation, instead the Kaiser's brother Prince Henry was sent. Another journey took Wilhelm to Vienna to visit Kaiser Franz Josef. His parents were looking for a suitable wife for him, and possibility existed in the person of a Princess from the House of Cumberland. This however did not come about. After his return from Austria, he went 2 years to the University of Bonn where he studied civil law and administration. In 1903, on request of the Kaiser, the Crown Prince traveled to St. Petersburg. The visit was to cement the friendship between the two countries, as well as nourish the blood ties that existed between the Romanovs and Hohenzollerns. He was reportedly well liked at the court of the Tsar. In the same year the Crown Prince and his brother Prince Eitel Friedrich paid a visit to Turkey's Sultan Abdul Hamid. This visit was to further Turkish-German friendship. Both Princes were very much taken with the oriental festivities held in their honor.
Princess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin came to the attention of the Kaiser and his wife as a possible bride for their son. The Crown Prince attended the wedding of Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin with Princess Alexandra of Hanover on July 4, 1904. There he met the 17-year-old sister of the bridegroom, Princess Cecilie. The beauty of the girl left an overwhelming impression on the Crown Prince. After his return to Potsdam he could not hide his affection. Pretty soon, arrangements were under way for the upcoming nuptials. Princess Cecilie was the perfect dynastic match for the Crown Prince. She was the daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III and his wife the Grand Duchess Anastasia Michailowna Romanov, a niece of Tsar Alexander II. She was born on September 20, 1886 at the Palace in Schwerin. She was the younger sister of Alexandrine who married the future King Christian X of Denmark. Her father was ill and the family spent 6 months of the year in the South of France in warmer climate trying to improve his health. Cecilie was a very accomplished young woman. She learned to speak French fluently, as well as German, English, and Russian. Certainly more accomplished than her husband. And as expected for German women at the time, she stayed out of politics. Glamerous Princess Cecilie has been described as the "Princess Diana" of her day--a storybook princess of Europe. She capture the imagination of the German and wider European public and he increasingly vocal press. Her style and and beauty outshown that of ant other European War in the era before World War I.
The Crown Prince was appointed a major in the army. He was assigned to train in various ministries (interior, finance, and agriculture) as wll as the navy office. One of the tutors assigned to work with him found him liberal (not believing in devine right) and likeable, but unwilling to work seriously. Despite differences between them, his father did allow him on occasion to deputize for him. [Van der Kiste, 1999, pp. 142-143.]
The marriage took place in 1905. While it was an excellent dynastic match, the marriage unfortunately did not prove to be a happy one. Even before the marriage, Princess Cecilie, expressed displeasure with the time the prince spent with his regimaental friends. The Crown Prince was an Anglphile and was disappointed tha his great uncle Edward VII did not attend the wedding. The English royal family was represented by Prince Arthur. The marriage was presented to the German public as the perfect marriage. This was not an accurate depiction of the relationship. Problems developed immediately after the wedding on the honeymoon, the Crown Prince was reportedly lonely for his bachelor drinking palls and made it clear that is new wife was not to interfere with those friends. [Van der Kiste, 1999, pp. 123-124.] The couple were, however, blessed with several children--more than ensuring the continuation of the dynasty. The children proved to be of widely different temperment. I have no details on their upbringing. I suspect that much of the historical discussion is in works by Herman authors. They were very extensively photographed as little boys. Available photographs appear to show them mostly photographed with each other. Presumably they were brought up in the close confines of the Edwardian nursery and turned primarily to each other for company.
Almost always they were pictured with each other. This suggests that they were largely closeted in the various palaces and other royal estates. They seem to have had little association with boys outside the royal family. Unlike their grandfather there were no visits to England and internatiojal exposure. The royal family apparently used photographs of the children for public relations purposes. Large numbers were sold as postcards to an adoring public. Thus we have large numbers of images of them as little boys showing both their outfits as well as activities in hich they were engaged. Many of the images show just the children and not their parents.
Crown Prince Friederich-Wilhelm and Cecilie had six children, four boys and finally two little girls. At this time we have only limited information about them, although the photographic record gives us considerable information about how they were dressed as the children. Their mother commonly dressed them in identical outfits. Tunics were very popular. Generally they were dressed in simple, rather comfortable outfits. The boys did not wear sailor suits as commonly as other German children when they were little, but as school-age boys they did wear sailor suits. With the advent of World War I we have far fewer images of the children. And as the girls arrived during the War, we have less information about them. As young men after World War I, they were of coursed shocked by the disolution of the monarchy. Some engaged in right-wing politics and flirted with the NAZIs who were anxious to burnish their image with royal associations. Their grand father was more suspious and stayed in the Netherlands. Two of the boys joined the Wehrmacht. Crown Prince Prince Wilhelm was killed in France. The public reaction in Germany was so intense that Hitler banned members of the royal family from engaging in combat.
I have little written information on how the children of Crown Prince Frederich Wilhelm were dressed, but a variety of available images provide quite a bit of information. Their mother clearly like to dress them all in identical outfits, despite the differences in their age. They were outfitted in dresses as babies, but it looks like the boys were breeched at a fairly early age. I'm not sure about the Crown Prince, but photographs of his younger brothers show them wearing short pants by about 3 years of age. Several of the available photographs show the boys wearing identical satin short pants outfits, with matching blouse and short pants. The blouse has an open square cut neck without a collar. It is worn with a matching belt and knee-length shorts. With this outfit the boys wear three-quarter length socks and white strap shoes with little boys. Their mother must have liked this outfit because several pictures show the boys wearing it at different ages.
Princes Cecilie appears to have liked dressing her sons identically. Many photographs show the boys wearing identical outfits even when their was considerable differences in the ages of the boys. This contrasts with the practices in England where gradual small distinctions were made in the outfits worn by the princes to mark differences in ages. The outfits of the German royals, however, appear much more fashonable, in contrast to their English cousins who after breeching, almost always were dressed in sailor suits or kilts.
The children of the Crown Prince all have short hair styles, even as younger boys. There are some hair styles, however, that are difficult to describe. Some of the boys at a very very young age had a kind of spiked hair styles. As somewhat olders boys they had their hair styled in a a kind of rolled-top fashion. It was, however, kept quite short on the side.
The royal children were extensively photographed, especially when they were little. Thus we have a lot of images of the children, including the sctivities that they pursued. We know less about the boys when they were older. This is in part because World War I intervened. We have far fewer imahes afterv the War begins. This is not surprising as public attention was directed to more serious subjects. We are left, however, with a faily good record of the children when they were younger. They were often dressed in simple tunic outfits which seem comfortable play clothes. Mostly we see thre children around the royal palaces, but we also note them on trips as well. We note the children on the beach, presumably Germany's Baltic coast.
We do not have a great deal of information about the family relationships yet. The Crown Prince reportedly frequently quarled with his father, the Kaiser Willhelm II. In many ways the Crown Prince's behavior was not unlike Wilhelm's behavior before his father's untimely death. The Kaiser ordered him removed from the command Death's Head Hussars. We see portraits of the Crown Princess with her brothers and sister in laws. As far as we know, Princess Cecilies got on reasonably with them, although we have few details at this time. Both the Kaiser's and Crown Prince's relationship with the children seem from the photogrpahs to have been warm and caring. The portraits seem more intimate than comparable British portraits of the royal family.
The Crown Prince became controversial in pre-World War I Germany. His politics were right wing. He became the darling of the Pan-Germans, Germans who wanted to annex areas in neighboring countries where Germans lived. He was even more anti-Semetic than his father and favored a series of represive measure against Jews. His father refused to endorse these measures, primarily because he thought that if Jews were forced to leave Germany, they would take their wealth with them. One of the flash points was Alsce-Loraine. He was criticized by Radicals and Socialists in the Reichstag and in the press for siding with Colonel von Reuther, who was being tried for firing on an Alsatian crowd. (Alsace was a French province ceeded to the Germans as part of the peace terms ending the Franco Prussian War. German rule was unpopular with many in this previous French province, especially in the cities.) Seizure of Alsace-Loraine by the Germans in the Farnco-Prussian War was the principal reason for French beligerance toward the Germans in the years leading up to World War I.
At the outbreak of World War I, the Crown Prince was given command of the 5th Army on the western front. He participated in the victories at Longwy and Longuyon (August 22 and 24, 1914). As a result of the Crown Prince's politics, right-wing elements in Germany wanted him to become Kaiser. In the flush of national unity, father and son fully agreed on the War. Wilhelm conferred to Iron Crosses on his son for bravery at Longwy. Gradually, however, the two drifted apart. The Kaiser was probably jealous of his sons military accomplishments. The Crown Prince for his part did not think that the War was being aggresively waged. He was particularly outspoken in his criticism of any peace iniatives as was his English-hating mother. He also objected to disconbtinuing unrestricted submarine warfare when America protested. Ultimately the renewal of unrestricted sunmarine warfare would bring America into the War, but make no real contribution in the German war effort.
When the Kaisser abdivcated it was not possible for the Crown Prince to inherit the throne. His right ring views made him unacceptable to the Socialists who had a powerful faction in the Reichtstag. Some suggested that the Kaisser abdicate in favor of one of his younger sons, but in the end the catastrophe of the War had turned the German people against the Hohenzollerns and the ruling dynasties in other German states.
The Crown Prince in November 1918 followed his father into exile to the Netherlands. After the Armistace on November 11, 1918, he took refuge on the island of Wieringen un the Zunder Zee . This was an internment camp for soldiers from the beligerant powers. He was able to visit his father at Doorn. Relations between the two did not improve in exile. He renounced his rights of sucession to the crown of Prussia and the German Empire on December 1, 1918. This allowed him to return to Germany.
The Crown Prince after renoincing his rights was allowed to return to Germany which was at the time the Weimar Republic. He led an aimless life. He was separated from his wife who he never relly cared for and had many meningless short relationships. He drank a great deal. Like two of his brothers (Eitel Friederich and August Wilhelm), he joined the Stahlhelm, a far right group of war veterans hostile to democracy and committed to the need for order and discipline. He supported Hitler in the presidential race against Hindenburg (1932). Hitler's right wing politics may hazve attracted him. And the NAZIS courted German royals with the lure of a possible restoration. The Crown Prince is know to have spoken favorably of Hitler to his father who was more suspious. He also spoke in public about Hitler. He assured the German people that Hitler would do for Germany what Mussolini had done for Italy. He was waspecially focused on eradicating Bolshevist/Marxist influences. The attraction seems to have been a possible restoration and the ultra-nationalistic positions. Like many Germans, he wanted to reverse the Versailles Treaty.He allowed himself and thus the family prestigev to be used by the NAZIs after Hitler took power. He eventually joined the NAZI Party, after they seized power. Two of his younger brothers also joined. He seemed to have comvinced himself that Hitler would return the Hohenzollerns family to the throne. He had second thoughts about the NAZIs only after they murdered his friend, former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher, during the Night of the Long Knives action (1934). He then withdrew from political activities. He lived quietly as a private citizen on his family's estates.
We have little information on the former Crown Prince in his later life. While he basicall withdrew from public life after the Night of the Long Knives, he heaped lavish praise on Hitler after the victories in the West in 1940. This despite the fact that he lost his eldest son in the fighting. He did not share Hitler's obsession with destroying Jews. He apparently maintained friendly relations with some Jews, somrthing which becane difficult for the average German by the time of the War. This came to Goebbels attention. He entered in his diary after commenting on the fact that Hitler was allowing the desgraced Julius Stricher to continue publishing his anti-Semitic tabloid, Der Strümer. "I, too, believe that our propaganda on the Jewish question must continue undiminished. How much is still to be doneabout this can be seen from the following: in connection with the evacuation of a prominant Berlin Jew, an examination of his personal papers and effects revealed that as late as the middle of 1941 the German Crown Prince wrote this Jew very cordial letters and presented him with photographs with exceeding friendly inscriptions. The House of Hohenzollern of today isn't worth a tinker's damn." [January 25, 1942--Goebbels, pp. 47-48.} Goebells had access to this information because as Gauleiter of Berlin he was responsible for the deportation of Berlin's large population to the ghettoes and later death camps in Poland. He calls this "evacuation". While Goebbels disliked the Hohenzollerns, Göring on the other hand was friendly with the Crown Prince who had many Jewish friends. Hitler convinced himself that the Crown Prince was involved in the July 1944 assasination attempt. There was no actual evidence that I know about.
Goebbels, Joseph. ed, Louis B. Lochner, The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-1943 (Doubleday: New York, 1948), 566p.
Van der Kriste, John. Kaiser Wihelm II: Germany's Last Kaiser (Bodmin: Sutton Publishing, 1999), 244p.
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