Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia

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Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia
Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia.jpg
Born(1887-01-29)29 January 1887
Potsdam, Prussia, German Empire
Died25 March 1949(1949-03-25) (aged 62)
Stuttgart, Württemberg-Baden, Allied-occupied Germany
Burial
SpousePrincess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
IssuePrince Alexander Ferdinand of Prussia
HouseHohenzollern
FatherWilhelm II, German Emperor
MotherPrincess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein

Prince August Wilhelm Heinrich Günther Viktor of Prussia (29 January 1887 – 25 March 1949), called "Auwi," was the fourth son of Wilhelm II, German Emperor by his first wife, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. He was a vocal supporter of Nazism and of Adolf Hitler.

Early life[edit]

He was born in the Potsdamer Stadtschloss when his grandfather was still the Crown Prince of Prussia. He spent his youth with his siblings at the New Palace, also in Potsdam, and his school days at the Prinzenhaus in Plön. Later, he studied at the universities of Bonn, Berlin and Strasbourg. He received his doctorate in political science in 1907 "in an exceedingly dubious manner", as one author[who?] describes it.[citation needed]

Prince August Wilhelm married his cousin Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (21 April 1887 Germany – 15 April 1957 France) on 22 October 1908 at the Berliner Stadtschloss. The couple had planned to take up residence in Schönhausen Palace in Berlin, but changed their mind when August Wilhelm's father decided to leave his son the Villa Liegnitz in the Sanssouci Park. On 26 December 1912 their only child, Prince Alexander Ferdinand of Prussia (died 12 June 1985), was born. Their Potsdam residence developed into a meeting place for artists and scholars.[citation needed]

During the First World War, August Wilhelm was made district administrator (Landrat) of the district of Ruppin; his office and residence was now Schloss Rheinsberg. His personal adjutant Hans Georg von Mackensen, with whom he had been close friends since his youth, played an important role in his life. These "pronounced homophilic tendencies" contributed to the failure of his marriage to Princess Alexandra Victoria.[citation needed] They never undertook a formal divorce due to the opposition of August Wilhelm's father, Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Weimar Republic[edit]

Initially, many Allied and German leaders favored transitioning Germany to a constitutional monarchy with August Wilhelm as either Emperor or regent for one of Crown Prince Wilhelm's children, although this possibility was quickly precluded when Philipp Scheidemann was forced by the pressures of the German Revolution to declare a republic.[1] Winston Churchill, who at the time served as Secretary of State for War in the Lloyd George War Cabinet, blamed the failure to retain the monarchy for the political instability that would plague the Weimar Republic.[2]

After the end of the war, the couple separated and formally divorced in March 1920. August Wilhelm was awarded custody of their son. After his divorce and the marriage of his friend Hans Georg von Mackensen to Winifred von Neurath, the daughter of Konstantin von Neurath, August Wilhelm lived a reclusive life in his villa in Potsdam. He took drawing lessons with Arthur Kampf, and the sale of his pictures secured him an additional source of income.

Involvement with National Socialism[edit]

August Wilhelm joined the conservative nationalist veterans group Der Stahlhelm (English: "The Steel helmet"). In the following years he had increasing contact with the NSDAP. To the unease of his family and against his father's will, he joined the "dangerous, revolutionary"[according to whom?] NSDAP on 1 April 1930, whereupon he received the low membership number 24, for symbolic reasons. In November 1931, he was accepted into the paramilitary Sturmabteilung (SA) with the rank of Standartenführer. His involvement with the NSDAP and his adoration of Adolf Hitler made August Wilhelm often the subject of mockery by the left-wing press (who gave him the nickname Braunhemdchen Auwi, or "Auwi the Little Brown Shirt"), politicians (French Ambassador André François-Poncet called him Hanswurst "Hans the Brown Sausage") and from the National Socialists themselves (Joseph Goebbels referred to him as a "good-natured but slightly gormless boy").

As a representative of the erstwhile Hohenzollern Dynasty, August Wilhelm was deliberately used by the party to gain votes in elections such as bring its the lead candidate for election to the Prusian Parliament in April 1932 or as an election speaker alongside Hitler, whom he accompanied on flights across Germany at the same time. Through his appearances at the party's mass rallies of, he addressed himself to sections of the population that were lukewarm towards National Socialism and convinced them "that Hitler was not a threat, but a benefactor of the German people and the German Empire".[citation needed]

He was identified (in an investigation in the 1960s) as one of those that pulled the trigger in the execution of Albrecht Höhler in 1933.

In 1933, August Wilhelm was given a position within the Free State of Prussia and became a member of the German Reichstag. However, after the abolition of the Weimar Republic after the passing of the Enabling Act of 1933, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the Third Reich, the party no longer needed the former prince, who had secretly hoped "that Hitler would one day hoist him or his son Alexander up to the vacant throne of the Kaiser". Thus, in spring 1934 he was denied direct access to Hitler and by the summer after the Night of the Long Knives found himself in the wilderness politically, but that did not reduce his adoration of Hitler.

One high-profile visit[when?] took August Wilhelm to the Passau Hall of the Nibelungs (Nibelungenhalle).[3]

On 30 June 1939 he was made an SA-Obergruppenführer, the second highest rank in the SA, but he made derogatory remarks about Joseph Goebbels in private and so he was denounced in 1942. From then on, he was completely sidelined and was banned from making public speeches.

In early February 1945, in the company of the former Crown Princess Cecilie, August Wilhelm fled the approaching Red Army by going from Potsdam to Kronberg to take refuge with his aunt Princess Margaret of Prussia, a sister of his father.

Post-war life[edit]

At the end of the Second World War, on 8 May 1945, August Wilhelm was arrested by the U.S. Army and imprisoned in Ludwigsburg. At his denazification trial (Spruchkammerverfahren) in 1948, he was asked if he had since repudiated National Socialism, and replied: "I beg your pardon?" He was thus categorized as "incriminated" by the denazification process and sentenced to two and a half years' hard labour. However, as he had been confined in the Ludwigsburg internment camp since 1945, he was considered to have served his sentence.

Immediately after his release, new proceedings were instituted against August Wilhelm. A court in Potsdam, in the Soviet occupation zone, issued an arrest warrant against him, but soon after that he became seriously ill and died at a hospital in Stuttgart at the age of 62. He was buried in Langenburg in the cemetery of the princes of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

With his wife, Princess Alexandra of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Prince August Wilhelm had one son:

Regimental commissions until First World War[edit]

  • 1. Garderegiment zu Fuß (1st Regiment of Foot Guards), Potsdam: Leutnant à la suite, from January 29, 1897; Oberleutnant, before 1908.
  • à la suite, Grenadierregiment Konig Friedrich Wilhelm I. (2. Ostpreussisches) Nr. 3
  • à la suite, 2. Gardegrenadierlandwehrregiment (2nd Reserve Regiment of Grenadier Guards) [4][citation needed]

Chivalric Orders[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Taylor, Edmond, 1908- (1963). The fall of the dynasties : the collapse of the old order, 1905-1922 (First Skyhorse Publishing ed.). New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing. p. 335. ISBN 978-1-63450-601-4. OCLC 907190709.
  2. ^ Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965 (1948). The gathering storm. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-395-07537-1. OCLC 3025315.
  3. ^ Anna Rosmus Hitler's Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 113ff
  4. ^ Schench, G. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908. Berlin, Prussia, 1907.
  5. ^ a b c Königlich Preussische Ordensliste (in German), Berlin, 1895, pp. 5, 80, 129
  6. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 349. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  7. ^ "Ludewigs-orden", Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, p. 6 – via hathitrust.org
  8. ^ Schench, G. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908. Berlin, Prussia, 1907.

External links[edit]