The Unicorn in Winter: Kaiser Wilhelm II in Exile in the Netherlands, 1918–1941

  • John C. G. Röhl


In 1934, not long after Hitler seized power in Berlin, a glowing biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II, with the title Fabulous Monster, was published in London. The author’s name was given as Jacques Daniel Chamier but the book had actually been written by a woman, Barbara Chamier, a British general’s daughter born in India who had never studied history and spoke no German.1 The German translation of this book, entitled Ein Fabeltier Unserer Zeit, was to prove hugely popular in Nazi Germany and helped to form the picture of the last German emperor held in the hearts of millions of ordinary Germans in very troubled times. The translator, Dora von Beseler, the daughter of a Prussian Minister of Justice, and herself the niece of a general, explained in a preface that the mythical beast referred to in the title was the unicorn, torn to shreds by the dogs of a cruel modern world incapable of understanding his true nobility.2 Dora von Beseler submitted the German manuscript to the Kaiser in Doorn who, overly sensitive though he was where his reputation was concerned, had only the slightest of corrections to make. He was not, he insisted, a heavy smoker. Whether the work was a piece of royalist propaganda cooked up from the beginning in Doorn — as I suspect — or not, what is clear from its mysterious genesis is that this book projected precisely the image Wilhelm wished to see projected: a martyr who had sacrificed himself for the sake of his people.


Diary Entry Railway Carriage German Nation Parliamentary Democracy German People 
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© John C. G. Röhl 2011

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  • John C. G. Röhl

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