Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kaiser Kinder by Jörg Kirschtein

Kaiser Kinder is a real treat!  An entire  book about the children of Kaiser Wilhelm II: Crown Prince Wilhelm,  Prince Eitel Friedrich, Prince Adalbert, Prince August Wilhelm,Prince Oskar and Princess Viktoria Luise.  In German.   

Kirschtein devotes a chapter to each of the children,  a biographical sketch enhanced by many photographs of the children and their families and their homes.   The Potsdam-born Jörg Kirchstein sheds light on intriguing details about the Kaiser's children.  Turns out, Prince Eitel Friedrich was not gay.  His marriage to Duchess Sophie Charlotte of Oldenburg was not happy, and they divorced.  But he was not alone after the divorce.  He was in love with Countess Madeleine von Mellin (1891-1958), who was recently divorced from her husband.  They remained a couple until Prince Eitel Friedrich's death in 1942.
It was August Wilhelm, "Auwi", the committed Nazi, who turned out to be homosexual.  His sexual proclivities put a great strain on his marriage to Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.  The couple were also first cousins.  Empress Augusta Viktoria may have played a role in arranging the marriage between her niece and her son.  
Auwi served the Nazis' faithfully throughout the war.   In April 1945,  Prince August Wilhelm  was arrested  by the Americans.

In 1913, the youngest son, Prince Joachim,  fell in love with Princess Elisabeth of Urach  She was not of equal rank, so Joachim could not marry her.  He was  devastated by his parents' decision.   Three years later, he was married to Princess Marie Auguste of Anhalt, a marriage that was arranged, as Joachim never stopped loving Princess Elisabeth.  Five years after, Joachim's marriage, Princess Elisabeth married Prince Karl of Liechtenstein.

Kirchstein also makes sure to include information (and photos) on the former wives, Sophie Charlotte and Alexandra Victoria and Joachim's widow, Marie Auguste, who was largely impoverished during her final years.  In order to make ends meet, she would adopt people for money.  The most famous is Robert Lichtenberg, who became Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, who is now married tp Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Many of the photos in this book are previously unpublished, or at least not seen by me -- and I have seen a lot of Prussian photos.  This collection is superb.  Some of the photos were postcards.  Several family members provided photos from their family albums.    A superb display of photos.   Even one of Madeleine von Mellin.

Kaiser Kinder die Familie Wilhelm II. in Fotografien was published by Matrix Media, which is owned by Prince Heinrich of Hanover, a grandson of Princess Victoria Luise of Prussia.  The price is 34.90 Euros.   There are  no plans to translate the book into English. This should not be a problem because the book is fabulous, thanks to the unique photographs.

Kirschtein is also the  author of Ceciie Deutschlands letze Kronprinzessin, which is also a delight, but sadly, the book is no longer available, even though

There are several  books about the Kaiser's children, written by their governesses, and published during and after the first world war.

One book is Potsdam Princes by Ethel Howard.  This book was first published in 1915.  I was able to locate a copy some years ago, but the book has since been reprinted. (It's out of copyright, which makes reprints easy to do.)    The link here is for the reprint.

Unfortunately, E.L. Brimble's In the Eyrie of the Hohenzollern has not been reprinted, and is very difficult to find.  About five or six years ago, I found a copy of the book by using addall, which is an excellent source for locating out-of-prints.   The seller was a dealer in Australia, and I think paid about $6.00 for the book.  A real bargain.

Right now, there are  two copies for sale through .  The sellers are dealers in the UK and in Germany.   Each copy is more than $40.00, but --- snap them up because this book is difficult to find.  I spent years trying to track down a copy. 

This link is for the reprint of Potsdam Princes. 
Potsdam Princes

Anne Topham was Victoria Luise's governess.  She wrote several books about her time as governess.

**REPRINT** Topham, Anne, b. 1874. Memories of the Fatherland, by Anne Topham ... with twelve illustrations. London, Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1916**REPRINT**

Memories of the Fatherland


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