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

  • John C. G. Röhl

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Diary Entry Railway Carriage German Nation Parliamentary Democracy German People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Daniel Chamier (1934), Fabulous Monster (London: E. Arnold). Barbara Dorothy Chamier was born in India in 1885 and died in England in 1971.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. Daniel Charnier (1937), Ein Fabeltier Unserer Zeit: Glanz und Tragödie Wilhelms II (Vienna: Amalthea Verlag).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nicolaus Sombart (1996), Wilhelm II: Sündenbock und Herr der Mitte (Berlin: Verlag Volk & Welt).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Quoted in Eugen Schiffer (1951), Ein Leben für den Liberalismus (Berlin: Herbig), pp. 135 and 137.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II to Ludendorff, no date (1919), quoted in John C. G. Röhl (2008), Wilhelm II: Der Weg in den Abgrund 1900–1941 (Munich: Beck), p. 1283Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II to Houston Stewart Chamberlain, 15 January 1917, printed in Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1928), Briefe 1882–1924 und Briefwechsel mit Kaiser Wilhelm II (Munich: Bruckmann), II, p. 250.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II (1928), ‘The Sex of Nations’, The Century Magazine, 116, 2, 129–39.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Ilsemann, diary entry for 7 October 1923, in Harald Königswald (ed.) (1967–68), Der Kaiser in Holland (Munich), 2 vols, I, p. 287; Wilhelm II, ‘The Sex of Nations’, p. 138ff.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II to George Sylvester Viereck, 20 February and 18 June 1925, cited by Lamar Cecil (1976), Wilhelm II und die Juden (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck), p. 346.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    Friedrich Schmitt-Ott (1952), Erlebtes und Erstrebtes, 1860–1950 (Wiesbaden: F. Steiner), p. 195.Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    Haehner, diary entry for 15 August 1921, ibid. Friedrich Wichtl (1929), Weltfreimauerei, Weltrevolution, Weltrepublik. Eine Untersuchung über Ursprung und Endziele des Weltkrieges (Munich: J.F. Lehmann).Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II, ‘Vatikan und Völkerbund’, June 1926; Willibald Gutsche (1991), Ein Kaiser im Exil: Der Letzte Deutsche Kaiser Wilhelm II in Holland. Eine Kritische Biographie (Marburg: Hitzeroth), p. 78.Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II to Mackensen, 2 December 1919, Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv Freiburg, Nachlass Mackensen N39/39, cited in John C. G. Röhl (1994), The Kaiser and His Court, Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 32.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II to Poultney Bigelow, 14 September 1940, quoted in John C. G. Röhl (1989), Kaiser Wilhelm II: ‘Eine Studie über Cäsarenwahnsinn’ (Munich: Stiftung Historisches Kolleg), p. 7.Google Scholar
  15. 33.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II to Alwina Gräfin von der Goltz, 28 July 1940 and 7 August 1940, printed in Willibald Gutsche (1991), ‘Illusionen des Exkaisers: Dokumente aus dem Letzten Lebensjahr Kaiser Wilhelms II. 1940/41’, Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, Heft 10, 1028–32.Google Scholar
  16. 35.
    Mark Mazower (1998), Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (London: Vintage Books).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John C. G. Röhl 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. G. Röhl

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