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First Published . . . May 1922 

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Copyright in the United States of America 






CHILDHOOD DAYS ........ 13 

1. Boys will be Boys . . . . . .13 

2. My Father's Nature ...... 25 

3. Princes, Sovereigns and Sayings .... 31 



1. The Value of Prussian Drill ..... 39 

2. Queen Victoria ....... 44 

3. Student Life 45 

4. In Command of the Foot-Guards .... 50 



1. Freely Chosen, Freely Given ..... 58 

2. Recollections of Russia ...... 62 

3. Statecraft Studies in Germany and England . . 66 

4. The Row in the Reichstag ..... 85 

5. How the Kaiser Worked ..... 91 

6. Our pre-War Policy ...... 94 

7. Travel Impressions ...... 102 


STRESS AND STORM ........ 108 

1. The Cloud on the Horizon . . . . .112 

2. The Cloud Bursts 119 




3. Our Military and Civil Leaders .... 132 

4. My Memorials . . . . . . . 137 

5. Hindenburg and Ludendorff . , . . .154 

PROGRESS OF THE WAR ....... 163 

1. Battle of the Marne ...... 164 

2. Verdun . . . . ... . 173 

3. Princes and Politicians at the Front . . .183 


1. Foreseeing the End 195 

2. Mistaken Proceedings . . . . . .198 

3. Wilson and Foch ....... 218 

4. The Wrong Man ....... 224 



1. Schulenburg : Groner . . . . . 233 

2. The Value of Ideas ...... 242 

3. The Forged Abdication ...... 247 

4. The Council of Officers ...... 250 

5. The Kaiser's Ejection . . . . . . 261 


1. Waiting for Berlin . . . . . , . 

2. Accepting the Inevitable . . . . . 

3. What was Done in My Absence . . . 

4. Farewell to My Troops . . . . . 

5. The Decisive Step. . . . A . 

6. Wieringen . . . . . . 

7. My Message . . . . . 


The latest portrait of the Crown Prince . . Frontispiece 



The Kaiser (as Prince Wilhelm) with his eldest son . . 16 


As a sportsman ....... 40 

As an artist ........ 40 

CACILIENHOF The Crown Prince's Elizabethan House, Pots- 
dam ......... 64 

The Crown Prince's residence at Oels .... 64 

The Crown Prince with his wife and family ... 96 

A remarkable Royal group ...... 96 


An antelope hunt ....... 104 

With his first elephant ...... 104 

German Head-quarters : the Crown Prince with General von 

Hindenburg ........ 168 

The Kaiser and Prince Henry of Prussia visit the Crown Prince 

at his Head-quarters in France ..... 168 

AT VERDUN The Kaiser with the Crown Prince . .176 

Three Kings visit the Crown Prince's Head-quarters in France 192 


In pre-war days ....... 200 

At work at Head-quarters . . . . . 200 




In the trenches at La Fere ; receiving a report from General 

von Gontar, 25th March, 1918 ..... 224 

The Crown Prince in the midst of a convoy of wounded, 

St. Quentin, 1918 ....... 224 


The Crown Princess visits the Exile .... 272 
The Crown Prince with a native .... 276 
At work with farrier Luijt, making horseshoes . . 280 

The Crown Prince, Crown Princess and family, with the 
Mayor and Mayoress "...... 288 

POTSDAM, 1914 " Sanssouci " (The New Palace) . . 292 

WIERINGEN, 1922 " The Parsonage " (the present home of 

the Exile) 292 


March, 1919. 

IT is evening. I have been wandering once more 
along the deserted and silent ways between the 
windswept and sodden meadows, through greyness 
and shadow. 

No human sound or sign. Only this sea wind 
driving at me and thrusting its fingers through my 
clothing. A March wind ! Spring is near at hand. 
I have been here four months. 

In the vast expanse above me sparkle the eternal 
stars, the same that look down upon Germany. From 
the horizon of the Zuyder Zee, the lighthouses of Den 
Oever and of Texel fling their beams into the deepening 

On my return I find my companion waiting anxiously 
at the little wicket-gate of the garden. Had I been 
gone such a long time ? 

I am now sitting in this small room of the Parsonage. 
The paraffin lamp is lighted ; it smokes and smells a 
little ; and the fire in the grate burns rather low and 

Not a sound disturbs the silence, save this ceaseless 
moaning of the wind across the lonesome and slum- 
bering island. 

Four months ! 

In this seemingly endless time which I have spent 
in one unbroken waiting-for-something, listening-for- 



something the thought has recurred again and again 
to me : " Perhaps if you were to write it out of your 
heart ? " This idea has seized me again to-day ; it 
was my one companion as I trudged the silent roads 
this evening. 

I will try it. I will write the pages that shall recall 
and arrange the past, shall bring me out of this turmoil 
into calmness and serenity. I will retouch the half- 
faded remembrances, will give account to myself of 
my own doings, wishes and omissions, will fix the truth 
concerning many important events whose outlines are 
seen at present by the world in a distorted and falsified 
picture. I will depict ah 1 events honestly and impar- 
tially, just as I see them. I will not conceal my own 
errors, nor inveigh against the mistakes of others. I 
will compel myself to objectivity and self-possession 
even where recollection's turgid wave of pain, anger 
and bitterness breaks over me and threatens to sweep 
me along with it in its recoil. With the distant days 
of my youth I will begin my reminiscences. 


WHEN I look back upon my childhood, there rises 
before me as it were a submerged world of radi- 
ance and sunshine. We all loved our home in Potsdam 
and Berlin just as every child does who is cherished and 
cared for by loving hands. So, too, the joys of our 
earliest childhood were, for sure, the same as the 
joys of every happy and alert German lad. Whether 
a boy's sword is of wood or of metal, whether his rock- 
ing-horse is covered with calfskin or modestly painted 
this, at bottom, is all one to the child's heart ; it 
is the symbol of diminutive manliness the sword or 
the horse itself that makes the boy happy. We played 
the same boyish tricks as every other German boy 
except, perhaps, that we spoiled better carpets and more 
expensive furniture. Whenever and with whomsoever 
I have talked of those childhood years, I have found 
full confirmation of the truth that be he child of 
king or child of peasant, son of the better-class or son 
of the workman every lad's fancy has a stage of 
development in which it seeks the same bold adven- 
tures and makes the same wonderful discoveries, under- 
takes expeditions into roomy and mysterious lofts or 
dark cellars ; there are happenings with rapidly opened 
hydrants which refuse to close again when the water 
gushes out, and secret snowball attacks upon highly 
respectable and punctiliously correct State officials who, 



forgetting all at once their reverend dignity, turn as 
red as turkey-cocks and shout : " Damned young 

As far back as I can remember, the centre of our 
existence has been our dearly-beloved mother. She 
has radiated a love which has warmed and comforted 
us. Whatever joy or sorrow moved us, she always 
had understanding and sympathy for it. All that was 
best in our childhood, nay, all the best that home and 
family can give, we owe to her. And what she was 
to us in our early youth, that she has remained through- 
out our adolescence and our manhood. The kindest 
and best woman is she for whom living means helping, 
succouring and spending herself in the interests of 
others ; and such a woman is our mother. 

Being the eldest son, I have always stood particu- 
larly close to our beloved mother. I have carried to 
her all my requests, wishes and troubles, whether big 
or little ; and she, too, has shared honestly with me 
the hopes and fears of her heart, the fulfilments 
and the disappointments which she has experienced. 
In many a difficulty that has arisen in the course 
of years between my father and myself, she has 
mediated with a calming, smoothing and adjusting 
hand. Not a heart's thought of any moment, but I 
have dared to lay it before her ; and this loving and 
trustful intercourse continued throughout the grievous 
days of the war ; nor has the relationship been des- 
troyed by all the trying circumstances which now 
separate me from her. I am particularly happy to 
know that, in these painful times, she is still, in mis- 
fortune, permitted to be the trusty helpmate of my 
sorely- tried father as she was once in prosperity, 
and I give thanks to heaven that it should be 
so. She has been his best friend, self-sacrificing, 
earnest, pure, great in her goodness, perfect in her 


fidelity. As her son I say it with ardent pride, 
she is the very pattern of a German wife whose best 
characteristics are seen in the fulfilment of her duties 
as wife and mother, and, in her, they display themselves 
only the purer and clearer now that the pomp of Im- 
perial circumstance has vanished and she stands forth 
in her simple humanness. 

The relations between us children and our father 
were totally different. He was always friendly and, 
in his way, loving towards us ; but, by the nature of 
things, he had none too much time to devote to us. 
As a consequence, in reviewing our early childhood, I 
can discover scarcely a scene in which he joins in our 
childish games with unconstrained mirth or happy 
abandon. If I try now to explain it to myself, it seems 
to me as though he was unable so to divest himself of 
the dignity and superiority of the mature adult man 
as to enable him to be properly young with us little 
fellows. Hence, in his presence, we always retained a 
certain embarrassment, and the occasional laxity of tone 
and expression adopted in moments of good-humour 
with the manifest purpose of gaining our confidence 
rather tended to abash us. It may have been, too, 
that we felt him so often to be absent from us in his 
thoughts when present with us in the body. That 
rendered him almost impersonal, absent-minded and 
often alien to our young hearts. 

My sister is the only one of us who succeeded in her 
childhood in winning a warm corner in his heart. More- 
over, all sorts of otherwise unaccustomed restraints 
were experienced at his hands. When, for instance, 
we entered his study a thing which never exactly 
pleased him we had to hold our hands behind us lest 
we might knock something off one of the tables. In 
addition to all this, there were the reverence and the 
military subordination taught us towards our father _ 

j 5 4'* 

co ^Ol|uii 



from our infancy ; and this engendered in us a certain 
shyness and misgiving. This sense of constraint was 
felt both by myself and by my brother Fritz, though 
certainly neither of us could ever have been character- 
ized as bashful. I myself have only got free from the 
feeling slowly and with progressive development. 

In recalling my father's study, I am reminded of an 
incident of my childhood, which has imprinted itself 
indelibly upon my memory because it involved my first 
and unintentional visit to Prince Bismarck. It was 
early in the morning. My brother Eitel Friedrich and 
I were about to go to Bellevue for our lessons, and I 
was strolling carelessly about in the lower rooms of 
the palace. Accidentally, I stumbled into a small room 
in which the old Prince sat poring over the papers on 
his writing-desk. To my dismay, he at once turned his 
eyes full upon me. My previous experience of such 
matters led me to believe that I should be promptly 
and pitilessly expelled. Indeed, I had already started 
a precipitate retreat, when the old Prince called me 
back. He laid down his pen, gripped my shoulder 
with his giant palm and looked straight into my face 
with his penetrating eyes. Then he nodded his head 
several times and said : " Little Prince, I like the look 
of you, keep your fresh naturalness." He gave me a 
kiss and I dashed out of the room. I was so proud 
of the occurrence that I treated my brothers for several 
days as totally inferior beings. It was incredible ! I 
had blundered into a study and had not been thrown 
out not even reprimanded. And it was withal the 
study of the old Prince. 

The nature of our later education tended to estrange 
us from our father more and more. We were soon 
entrusted entirely to tutors and governors, and it was 
from them that we heard whether His Majesty was 
satisfied with us or the reverse. Here, in the family 



and in our own early youth, we already began to experi- 
ence the " system of the third," the unfortunate 
method vhereby, to the exclusion of any direct 
exchange of views, decisions were made and issued by 
means of third persons, who were also the sole mouth- 
pieces by which the position of the interested party 
could be stated to the judge. This principle, so attrac- 
tive to a man of such a many-sided character and so 
immersed in affairs as unquestionably the Kaiser has 
always been, took deeper and wider root with the 
advance of years, and in cases in which place-seeking, 
ingratiating and irremovable courtiers or politicians 
have gained possession of posts that gave them the 
position of go-between, has caused the suppression 
of disagreeable reports and the doubtless often quite 
unconscious distortion of news with its consequent 
mischief. The " department " (Kabinet), especially 
the Department of Civil Administration, was funda- 
mentally nothing but a " personal board " ; the head of 
the department (chef de cabinet) was the mouthpiece 
and intermediary of any and every voice that made 
itself heard in this sphere of activity ; he also carried 
back the Imperial decisions. The idea of such a 
position presupposes unqualified and almost super- 
human impartiality and justice doubly so, when the 
ruler (as in this case the inner circle was well aware) 
is susceptible to influence and is shaken by bitter 
experiences. Then the responsibility of these posts 
becomes as great as the power they confer, if their 
occupant goes beyond the clearly-drawn line indicated 

Then, and still more when they tacitly combine their 
influences so as to strengthen their position, they and 
their helpers at court become distorters of the views 
upon which the ruler must base his final and im- 
portant decisions. It is they who are really responsible 


for the wrong decisions that were issued in the name 
of the ruler and which possibly sealed his fate and 
that of his people. 

But who would think now of discussing the sins 
committed against the German people by the heads 
of many years' standing of the Civil Department 
and the Marine Department in the duologues of 
their daily reports ? Closely and firmly they held the 
Kaiser entangled in their conceptions of every weighty 
question. If, after all, a mesh was rent, either through 
his own observation or by the bold intervention of 
some outsider, their daily function gave them the next 
morning an opportunity of repairing the damage and 
of removing the impression left by the interloper. I 
am aware that none of these men ever wittingly exer- 
cised a noxious influence. Every one considers his 
own nostrum the only one and the right one to effect 
a political cure. 

Turning from those who were the pillars of this princi- 
ple back to the principle itself, I know too that a chef de 
cabinet who would have influenced and moulded the 
decisions of the Kaiser in quite another way might have 
proved a blessing to the Fatherland and to us all, if that 
chef had been a firm, strong and steadfast personality. 
But unfortunately destiny placed among the Kaiser's 
advisers no men of such a stamp with the single excep- 
tion of the clever and resolute Geheimrat von Berg, 
whose appointment to the responsible post of Chief of 
the Civil Department took place in the year 1918 
consequently too late to be of any effective service. 
In general, the notions of the rest were characterized 
by dull half-heartedness. Wherever they had to sug- 
gest men for the execution of new tasks, the men whom 
they proposed and recommended were only too often 
mediocre. Anyone who was willing to go his own road 
with a resolute tread was carefully avoided. Hence, 


instead of a determined course, there was eternal 
tacking instead of any steadfast and clear-sighted 
grasp of the consequences of such a policy, there was 
masking of the imminent dangers and a deaf ear for 
the louder and louder warnings of anxiety and alarm, 
until at last the cup of fate which they had helped to 
fill flowed over. 

It was in the obscurity of their departments that 
these " advisers of the crown " laboured, and it 
is into the darkness of oblivion that their names 
will disappear. But the taint of their doings will 
cleave to His Majesty's memory where no more 
guilt attaches to him than just this : not to have dis- 
played a better knowledge of character in the choice 
of his entourage, and not to have been more resolute 
in dealing with his advisers, when the wisest heads and 
the stoutest hearts among all classes in Germany were 
but just good enough for such responsible positions. 

It was a fundamental mistake that only the Imperial 
Chancellor made his report in private. All other minis- 
ters were accompanied by the chiefs of their respective 
departments ; for the reports of the Military and Naval 
Ministers, indeed, Adjutant-General von Plessen was 
also present. In this way the Departments acquired a 
certain preponderance over the minister or the man 
who was responsible. 

But this theme has led me far astray. I must return 
to the recollections of my youth. I stopped at the 
system of the third party. In regard to us boys, the 
result was that when we acquired military rank, the 
Kaiser's intercourse with us was generally conducted 
through the head of the Military Department or through 
General von Plessen ; and, indeed, in quite harmless 
matters of a purely personal nature, we occasionally 
received formal military notices (Kabinetts-Orders). 
Amicable and friendly discussion between father and 


son scarcely ever took place. It was clear that the 
Kaiser avoided any personal controversy in which 
decisions might be necessary ; here, again, the third 
party was interposed. For trivialities, which, under 
other conditions, a few paternal words might have 
settled, intermediaries and outsiders were employed 
and thus made acquainted with the affair ; in my 
own case, since nature has not blessed me with a taste 
for such punctilious formalities, the tension was often 
increased. It is quite possible that these gentlemen, 
who were penetrated with the very profound impor- 
tance of their missions, were not always received by 
me with a seriousness corresponding to their own self- 
esteem and that they rewarded me by taking the first 
opportunity to express to His Majesty their views on 
my immaturity and lack of courtesy and dignity. 
Most certainly these intermediaries are in no small 
degree answerable for misunderstandings, and for the 
fact that small conflicts were occasionally intensified 
or caused all kinds of prejudices and imputations. 
Sometimes I received the impression that these little 
intrigues assumed the character of mischief-making. 
Everything I said or did was busily reported to His 
Majesty ; and I was then young and careless, and I 
certainly uttered many a thoughtless word and took 
many a thoughtless step. 

In such circumstances it was for me almost an 
emancipation to be ordered before the Kaiser in 
regimentals and to receive from him in private a 
thorough dressing down on account of some incident 
connected with a special escapade. It was then that 
we understood one another best. Moreover, one might 
often, hi such colloquies, give rein to one's tongue. 
An absolutely innocent example comes to my mind. 
I had always been an enthusiastic devotee of sport 
in all its forms : hunting, racing, polo, etc. But even 


here there were restrictions, considerations and pro- 
hibitions. One felt j ust like a poacher. Thus I was not 
to take part in races or in drag-hunting on account of 
the dangers involved. But it was for that very reason 
that I liked this sport. Now I had just ridden my first 
public race in the Berlin-Potsdam Riding Club, and 
was hoping that there would be no sequel in the shape 
of a row, when next morning the Kaiser ordered me to 
appear before him at the New Palace in regimentals. 
There was thunder in the air. 
' You've been racing." 

" Zu befehl." 

" You know that it is forbidden." 

" Zu befehl." 

" Why did you do it, then ? " 

" Because I am passionately fond of it, and because 
I think it a good thing for the Crown Prince to show 
his comrades that he does not fear danger and thereby 
set them a good example." 

A moment's consideration, and then suddenly His 
Majesty looks up at me and asks : 
' Well, anyway, did you win ? ' 
' Unfortunately Graf Koenigsmarck beat me by a 
short head." 

The Kaiser thumped the table irritably : ' That's 
very annoying. Now be off with you." This time 
my father had understood me and had appreciated 
the sportsman in me. 

The older I grew, the oftener did it happen that 
serious men of the most varied classes applied to me to 
lay before the Kaiser matters in which they took a 
special interest or to call the attention of His Majesty 
to certain grievances or abuses. I took such matters 
up only when I was able to inquire into them thoroughly 
and to convince myself of the justification for any inter- 
ference. Even then their number was considerable. 


In most cases the subjects were disagreeable ; and 
they concerned affairs which my father would probably 
never otherwise have heard of and which he never- 
theless ought, in my opinion, to be made acquainted 

The most difficult matter that I had to take to him 
was unquestionably the one I was forced to deal with 
in the year 1907. It was then that I had to open 
his eyes to the affair of Prince Philip Eulenburg. 
Undoubtedly it was the duty of the responsible author- 
ities to have called the Kaiser's attention long before 
to this scandal which was becoming known to an ever- 
widening circle. But they failed to lay the matter 
before him ; and since they left him in total ignorance 
of it, I was obliged to intervene. Never shall I forget 
the pained and horrified face of my father, who stared 
at me in dismay, when, in the garden of the Marble 
Palace, I told him of the delinquencies of his near 
friends. The moral purity of the Kaiser was such that 
he could hardly conceive the possibility of such aber- 
rations. In this case he thanked me unreservedly for 
my interference. 

In contrast with the Eulenburg affair, most of the 
questions which, on my own initiative or at the sug- 
gestion of others, I had to bring before His Majesty 
were questions of home or foreign politics, or they 
concerned leading personages, nay, rather persons 
who were irresolute and flaccid, but who stuck tight 
to posts which ought to have been occupied by clear- 
sighted and steadfast men. In such cases the Kaiser 
generally listened to me quietly, and frequently he 
took action ; more often, however, he was talked 
round again by some one else after I had left. It 
was inevitable that, in the long run, my reports and 
suggestions should affect him disagreeably. As he 
travelled very much, I saw comparatively little of 


him. In consequence, our meetings were mostly 
encumbered with a whole series of communications 
and questions by which he felt himself bothered. I 
myself was fully conscious of the pressure of these 
circumstances, but saw no means of altering them. In 
any case, I considered it my duty to keep the Kaiser 
frankly informed of all that, in my view, he ought 
to know but would otherwise remain ignorant of. 

Notwithstanding all this tension, and although my 
father was annoyed by certain idiosyncrasies of mine 
above all by my disinclination to adopt the tradi- 
tional princely manner he was, in his own way, fond 
of me, and in the secret recesses of his heart proud 
of me too. 

Naturally, much was whispered, gossiped and written 
in public about these personal relations of ours. 
If I had been a person to take all this sort of 
thing seriously, I might soon have appeared very 
important in my own eyes. Repeatedly there was 
talk of marked discord, of sharp reprimands on my 
father's part, of open or covert censure. In all this, 
as I have shown and as I would in no wise cloak or 
disguise, there was sometimes a grain of truth a 
grain about whose significance a mighty cackle arose 
among the old women of both sexes. To reiterate, 
there were early and manifold differences of opinion, 
and many of them led to some amount of dispute. 
In so far as these conflicts were concerned with personal 
affairs and not with political questions, they were, 
at bottom, scarcely more lasting or more serious than 
those which so often occur everywhere between father 
and son, between representatives of one generation 
and another, between the conceptions of to-day and 
those of to-morrow ; the difference lay in the enor- 
mous resonance of court life which echoed so dispro- 
portionately such simple events. Thus, these rumours 


do not really touch the heart of the matter. The 
frequently recurring fact that father and son differ 
fundamentally in character, temperament and nature, 
appears to me, so far as I know the Kaiser and know 
myself, applicable to us. It is, indeed, regularly 
observable in the history of our House. 

It is possible, too, that there has come between us 
the great epochal change from traditional conceptions 
to a broader view of life a change which seems to 
have inserted itself between people of the Kaiser's 
years and my contemporaries, and by which I have 
benefited while he has viewed it with hostility. At 
any rate, many of his notions, opinions and actions 
appeared to me strange and even incomprehensible ; 
they struck me so at an early period of my life, and 
the more so the older I grew. The first group of the 
questions towards which, even as a lad, I felt a certain 
inner opposition, concerned court ceremony as it was 
then practised. It was painful to me to see people 
losing their freedom through stereotyped and often 
thoroughly musty regulations. Each became, in a way, 
the actor of a part ; nay, under the influence of these 
surroundings, men who were otherwise clever lost 
their own opinion and yielded here nothing more 
than the average. Hence, wherever possible, I myself 
later on avoided everything courtly, pompous or deco- 
rative ; and, as far as was feasible, I suppressed all 
formalities in my own circle. For my recreative hours 
I desired, not endless reunions and ceremonious gala 
performances, but unrestrained intercourse with people 
of all kinds, sociability in a small circle, theatres, 
concerts, hunting and sport. 

Intercourse with persons of my own age always 
had a greater attraction for me than association with 
people much older than myself, though I never design- 
edly avoided the latter. Furthermore, my natural 


inclinations leading me perhaps more into actualities 
than was possible to my father and giving me the 
chance to talk with and listen to a greater number of 
unprejudiced persons of all professions, I frequently 
felt impelled by the convictions thus gained to warn 
and to contradict. But I have ever recognized in 
the Kaiser my father, my Imperial overlord, to whom 
it was my duty as well as my heart's wish to show 
every respect and every honour. 

* * * * * 

I have been perusing the pages which I penned 
recently as reminiscences of my childhood and of my 
attitude towards my parents. The perusal suggests 
to me that my jottings are not quite just to my father's 
character, that they speak only of petty weakness, 
that, if I am to give a complete sketch of his person- 
ality, I must dwell upon him more in detail. When I 
try to distinguish his deepest characteristic, a word 
forces itself upon my attention which I am almost 
shy of applying to any man of our own day, a word 
which seems hollow and trite because, like some small 
coin, it is flung about so continually and thought- 
lessly ; it is the word edel (noble) . The Kaiser is 
noble in the best sense of the word ; he is full of 
the most upright desire for goodness and piety, and 
the purity of his intellectual cosmos is without a 
blemish and without a stain. Candour that makes 
no reservations, that is perhaps too unbounded in its 
nature, ready confidence and belief in the like trust- 
worthiness and frankness on the part of others, are 
the fundamental features of his character. Talleyrand 
is said to have uttered somewhere the maxim : "La 
parole a ete donnee a I'homme pour deguiser sa pensee." 
With my father it has often seemed to me as though 
speech had been bestowed upon him that he might 
open to his hearer every nook and bypath of his rich 


and sparkling inner world. He has always allowed his 
thoughts and convictions to gush forth instantaneously 
and immediately without prelude and without pro- 
logue, an incautious and noble spendthrift of an ever- 
fertile intellect which draws its sustenance from 
comprehensive knowledge and a fancy whose only 
fault is its exuberance. Moreover, he is by nature and 
by ethico-religious training free from all guile ; he 
would regard secrecy, dissimulation or insincerity as 
despicable and far beneath his dignity. The idea that 
the Kaiser could ever have wished to gain his ends 
by false pretences or to pursue them by tortuous 
routes is for me quite unimaginable. It may be that, 
with all this unreserved and unrestrained self-ex- 
pression, the passion for complete frankness implanted 
in every virtuous being found, in the Kaiser, its 
strongest support in his evident over-estimation of 
his momentary personal influence. In a personal 
exchange of ideas he believed himself to be sure of 
immediate victory and to need the expedients of 
trickery or dodgery just as little as he did wordy 
diplomatic skirmishing. I have a thousand times 
observed the effects of his personality to be indeed 
very great, and have seen men of otherwise thoroughly 
independent nature fall an easy prey to his frequently 
fascinating, though perhaps only transitory, influence. 
Nevertheless, such successes, experienced from youth 
onwards, and, still more, the consequent expressions 
of admiration and the flattery of complaisant friends 
and courtiers in the end clouded his judgment con- 
cerning the expediency of thus sacrificing every final 
reserve, as well as obscuring his insight into the fact 
that the individual even though he be an emperor and 
a never so energetic personality is of little ultimate 
weight in comparison with the vast world-shifting 
currents of time. * 


To this lack of perspective in estimating his personal 
relations and his personal influence may be partly 
attributed his remaining so long unconscious of the 
full significance of the approaching danger. Many a 
false estimate was formed by him in this regard, and 
his confiding trust was not seldom lulled into security 
by clever opponents. 

So it happened that, even when the enormous 
pressure of economic and political forces was uncon- 
trollably driving the world towards the catastrophe 
of war, he believed himself able to bring the wheels 
of fate to a standstill by means of his influence in 
London and Petrograd. The capacity to estimate 
men and things correctly that is, impartially and 
objectively and without any personal exaggeration 
is of the greatest moment to rulers and statesmen. 
It has not been liberally bestowed upon the Kaiser, 
and my impression is that responsible individuals 
and the heads of the various " cabinets " have not, 
by any means, always intervened with the energy 
necessary to correct erroneous conceptions of this 

In the depths of his nature my father is a thoroughly 
kind-hearted man striving to make people happy and 
to create joyousness around him. But this trait is 
often concealed by his desire not to appear tender 
but royal and exalted above the small emotions of 
sentiment. He is thoroughly idealistic in thought 
and feeling and full of confidence towards every colla- 
borator who enters fresh into his environment. Present 
and future he has always seen and gauged in the mirror 
of his own most individual mental cosmos, which 
became more and more unreal as the secret and the 
open struggle for our national existence grew more 
and more difficult and oppressive both within the 
realm and without, or as one fragment after another 


of this cosmos of ideas was harshly snatched away and 
crushed by the hand of destiny. 

In the chivalrous ethics of the Kaiser his con- 
ception of loyalty is of great moment. He demands 
it without reserve, and there is scarcely any derelic- 
tion which he feels more keenly than actions or omis- 
sions that he regards as breaches of trust. I quote one 
example : he has never, from the bottom of his heart, 
pardoned Prince Biilow for not giving him that sup- 
port which he might have expected in the November 
incidents of 1908. As a matter of fact, unless I am 
mistaken, those severe conflicts, with their stormy 
Reichstag sittings and their innumerable Press attacks, 
meant for him far more than an affront to his Imperial 
position or dignity. It was only to outsiders that they 
appeared to have this effect. Possibly I was able 
at that time to see deeper into the heart of my Imperial 
father than anyone, save my dear mother ; and I am 
firmly convinced that, from experiences which were 
for him barely conceivable and scarcely tolerable, his 
self-confidence received a blow from which it has 
never recovered. His joyous readiness of decision 
and intrepid energy of will, till then undaunted, were 
suddenly broken ; and I believe that the germ was 
then planted of the lack of decision and vacillation 
noticeable in the last ten years of his life and especially 
during the war. From that moment onward, the 
Kaiser allowed affairs to glide more and more into 
the hands of the responsible advisers in the various 
Government departments, eliminating himself and his 
own views either partially or even entirely. A secret 
and never-expressed anxiety concerning possible fresh 
conflicts and responsibilities which he might have to 
confront had come over him. Where strong hands were 
needed, complaisant and officious persons pushed 
themselves forward, and, making use of the opportunity 


to usurp functions that should never have come 
within their scope, they dragged into the sphere of 
their own small-mindedness matters which, so long 
as the then current constitutional ideas remained 
valid, ought never to have been withdrawn from the 
range of the unhampered Imperial will. Still I will 
not be too hard upon these advisers ; I do not wish 
to be unjust to them ; it may be that, in the anguish 
of those dark days, His Majesty was sometimes even 
grateful to them for so busily troubling their heads 
it may be that they believed themselves to be acting 
for the best, while in reality creating only evil. 

The Kaiser, too, in those years of self-repression 
and of weakness, just as in his days of unbroken self- 
confidence, desired to do his best, and he regarded 
as the best the peace of the realm. Nothing should 
destroy that ; with every means at his command he 
would secure that to the empire. The terrible tragedy 
of his life and of his life's work lay in the fact that 
everything he undertook to this end turned to the 
reverse and became a countercheck to his aims, so 
that finally a situation arose in which we were 
by enemy upon enemy. 

April, IQI 

Weeks have passed since I last occupied myself with 

these pages. Tidings have come to hand which are 
enough almost to break one's heart which show our 
poor country to be torn by internal dissension and 
to be conducting a desperate struggle with a pack of 
heartless and greedy " victors." In the face of these 
monstrous events and problems, I have felt as though 
the individual had no right whatever to review and 
determine the petty incidents of his own life and destiny. 
Thus spring has had to come before I could revert 
once more to my task spring with its sunny green 


pastures in which droll little lambs are skipping beside 
the dirty winter-woolled ewes, and across which blow 
the clear sea-breezes in ceaseless restlessness. 

In this radiance and in the revived colour every- 
where visible, all things look better, and people too 
have more genial faces. 

When I think of these first months here in the island ! 
With the best will to make the best of it, there was 
not much to be done. Distrust and reserve in every 
one among the fisherfolk and among the peasants, 
and among the tradespeople in Oosterland, in Hippo- 
lytushoef and in Den Oever. A shy edging to one 
side when you came by : " De kroonprins " and 
that was as much as to say : " That Boche the 
murderer of Verdun, the libertine." What the Entente 
with the help of their mendacious Press and their 
agents had hammered into the minds of these good 
people had got thoroughly fixed. Nor was there any 
possibility of an explanation with them concerning 
this nonsense. Moreover, my quarters can scarcely be 
heated, since these little iron stoves will not burn, and 
our famous single lamp smokes and can only burn 
when petroleum is to be had. Therefore, as soon 
as it is dark, one crawls into bed and lies there sleep- 
less to torture oneself with the same matters over 
and over, again, and gets half mad with worrying 
over the question : " How did it all happen ? " 
" Where lies the blame ? " " How might one have 
done better ? ' 

Now, all has grown less hard and is more tolerable. 
To-day, the people of the island know that none of 
all the slanders that have been circulated about 
me are justified. Their distrust has vanished ; their 
simple, unsophisticated nature now meets me frankly. 
Every one greets me in a friendly manner, and most 
people shake hands. I also receive occasional invita- 


tions and then sit in these clean little rooms to sip 
a cup of cocoa and make trial of my acquirements in 
the Dutch language. 

One person in particular has done much to enlighten 
people and to smooth my path, namely, Burgomaster 
Peereboom. At the outset, he was the only one who 
thrust aside all prejudice, and sought to see and to 
help the human individual he and his family. And 
to him and to his warm-hearted and active wife I am 
indebted for many a little improvement in my modest 
household at the Parsonage as well as for many a wise 
hint that taught me to understand my new environ- 
ment. One or two Germans also tendered me imme- 
diate help ; among them the experienced Count 
Bassenheim of Amsterdam, who knows Holland as 
well as he does his beautiful Bavaria ; then the clever 
and ever-faithful Baron Huenefeld, formerly vice- 
consul at Maastricht, whose care for me has been most 
touching ; further, there are several German business 
men of Amsterdam, faithful, self-sacrificing men to 
whom I owe a lifelong debt of gratitude. And so 
there only remains unchanged the anxiety as touching 
my old home, my country, the longing for her and for 
those to whom I belong. 

But not of that now. I will talk here of that other 
life which to me, in the seclusion of this island, often 
appears so distant as to be separated from the present 
by a whole train of years. 

Born heir-apparent to a throne, I was brought up 
in the particular notions valid by tradition for a Prus- 
sian prince. No one in the family had ever cherished 
a doubt as to the suitability and excellence of these 
principles, for in their youth all its male members had 
traversed exactly the same path. 


While fully recognizing the undeniable value of the 
old Prussian traditions, I believe, nevertheless, that 
the narrow, sharply-defined and hedged-in education 
of Prussian princes (in which the rigid etiquette of 
the court combines with the anxious care of the parental 
home to provide directions for mentor, tutor and 
adviser) is calculated to produce a definite and not 
very original product adapted to ceremonial duties, 
rather than a modern man capable of taking his un- 
swerving course in the life of his times. If I had 
submitted tamely to the system, it would in time have 
led me into a position in which I should have been 
ignorant of the world, sequestered and secluded. The 
worst of such a position appears to me to be, not the 
Chinese Wall itself, but the ultimate incapacity to 
see the wall, so that the immured imagines himself 
free while in reality his mental range is closely circum- 

At an early age, and certainly at the outset as a 
mere consequence of my natural disposition, though 
later with growing consciousness and maturer judg- 
ment, I opposed the efforts to level out the indepen- 
dent features in me with the object of creating a 
" normal Prussian Prince." Two directly diverging 
views were at work here. On the one hand was the 
traditional notion stressed so emphatically throughout 
His Majesty's reign, the notion of the augustness 
(erhabenheit, exaltedness) of the ruler, the notion 
figuratively expressed in the word itself that the 
Prince, King, Kaiser must stand elevated high above 
the level of the governed classes ; on the other hand 
was my own conception that he must become acquainted 
with life as it is and as it has to be lived by people of 
every station. It remains to be said that the endeavour 
to be true to my conviction in thought and act caused 
me many a struggle and many an unpleasantness. 


The upbringing and the daily life of us children in 
the Imperial parental home was simple. We certainly 
were not indulged least of all by our military governors. 

My first military governor I was then a lad of seven 
years was the subsequent General von Falkenhayn. 
I remember him with reverence and gratitude. He 
did not pamper me ; permitted no excuses ; and even 
in those childhood years he impressed upon me that, 
for a man, the words " danger " and " fear " should 
not exist. In the best sense, he passed on to me the 
undaunted freshness of his faithful soldierliness. There 
was in me from infancy a passion for horses and rid- 
ing. General von Falkenhayn arranged our rides in 
the beautiful environs of Potsdam in such a way that 
we had obstacles to surmount. Hedges, fences, walls, 
ditches and steep gravel-pits had to be briskly taken. 
He used to say on such occasions : " Fling your heart 
across first ; the rest will follow." That saying I have 
taken with me through life ; again and again, and in 
recent circumstances when the drab hours of my destiny 
and my loneliness here in this island have threatened 
to stifle me, the General has stood before my mind's 
eye and has helped me over my difficulties with his 
brave soldierly philosophy. 

Even when a lad I had to prove myself as patrol 
and scout, and I was also instructed in reading maps. 
Gymnastics, drill and swimming were ardently prac- 
tised as physical training. 

An event that made a deep impression upon my 
young mind recurs to me. I was permitted to present 
myself to Prince Bismarck in due form and not in the 
unofficial way in which I had done so when, as a young- 
ster, I suddenly surprised him in his den. From my 
father I received instructions to don my uniform and 
meet him at Friedrichsruh ; I was going to the eightieth 
birthday of the ex-Chancellor (Alt-Reichskanzler). 


To don uniform was, even in that early period, the 
acme of delight to my boyish heart ; and to this was 
to be added a visit to the man whom, then as now, a 
healthy instinct taught me to regard as a sort of legen- 
dary hero. In the night before this journey, I did not 
sleep a wink. 

Bismarck was suffering severely from gout, and 
leaned upon a stick to welcome us in the castle. At 
lunch he displayed an astounding liveliness and vigour ; 
but, as a consequence of the excitement naturally 
experienced in this first " official " appearance of mine, 
this general impression is all that I have preserved in 
my recollection. Moreover, it must be confessed that 
I was rendered somewhat anxious during the meal 
by the Prince's big boarhound, who suddenly laid 
his cold nose on my knee under the table, and 
growled very unmistakably whenever, unobserved, I 
tried to free myself from his attentions. 

After lunch, His Majesty mounted horse and, on a 
piece of ploughland close to the castle, awaited Bis- 
marck at the head of the Halberstadt Cuirassiers, whose 
chief the aged prince had been appointed. I had the 
honour of accompanying the old gentleman in his 
carriage. In a truly paternal manner, he pointed out 
to me all the beauties of the Friedrichsruh park. My 
father delivered a very fine speech and presented the 
prince with a sumptuously- wrought sword of honour. 
The prince replied with a few pregnant words. 

Then we returned to the castle. I noticed that the 
prince was very weary and fatigued ; the prolonged 
standing had doubtless put too great a strain upon 
him. His breathing was quick and heavy ; and finally 
he tried to open the tight collar of his uniform, but 
failed. Almost startled by my own boldness, I bent 
over him and undid it ; then he pressed my hand 
and nodded gratefully. 


We left the same afternoon. On this beautiful day, 
which I would not, for all that is dear to me, have 
blotted out of my memory, I had seen for the last 
time the greatest German of his century. 

Our first scientific education we received from our 
private tutor. I cannot approve of this method, for 
the pupil misses the stimulating rivalry of comrades. 
When I entered the Cadet School at Plon as a lad of 
fourteen, in April, 1896, large gaps manifested them- 
selves in my knowledge, which necessitated a good 
deal of extra work. 

In my Plon days the future General von Lyncker 
acted as governor to me and to my brother Eitel Frie- 
drich. He was a typical high-minded Prussian officer 
of the old school. His unswervingly serious nature 
made it rather difficult for him to enter into the ideas 
of us immature little creatures or to discover the 
proper methods of managing us. And we were real 
children at that time. For him there existed only 
orders, school, work and duty, and again orders and 
duty. When I grew a bit older, we often got to logger- 
heads. As a youth, I certainly was not a pattern be- 
ing for the show-window of a boys' boarding-school ; but 
that there was so much to complain of as General von 
Lyncker managed to discover, day in day out, I really 
cannot believe. Moreover, although quite uninten- 
tionally on his part, his somewhat hard and unyielding 
manner hurt me. But it was this very General von 
Lyncker whom the Kaiser afterwards employed as go- 
between when disagreeable conflicts arose. Although 
I readily and gratefully acknowledge, that in this task 
imposed upon him, General von Lyncker never adopted 
the role of time-serving tale-bearer or consciously 
increased the friction anything of the kind would 
have been totally irreconcilable with his sincere and 
lofty character still, I cannot help saying that the 


importation of his frequently brusque manner rather 
tended to widen the breach than to diminish it. 

As Plon cadets, we were very fond of Frau von 
Lyncker. At that time a special School of Princes was 
formed at Plon for my brother Fritz and me. Each of 
us had three fellow- pupils. In harmony with the 
totally false educational principle which this displayed, 
any association with the other cadets was looked 
at askance. Nevertheless, from the very first day 
onwards, we continually leaped over the barriers 
and seized every opportunity of cultivating comrade- 
ship and friendly relations with the other lads of the 
corps. The football, the rowing matches and the snow- 
ball fights are still pleasant recollections for me. Many 
of my then " corps " companions, drawn from the 
most varied classes, have become good friends of mine 
with whom I have remained bound by close ties ever 
since. During the war, I often quite unexpectedly ran 
up against one or other of my old Plon comrades in 
distant France ; and then, amid all the grim harsh- 
ness of the time, the long-lost, care-free days of youth 
rose before our memories like a sweet smile. 

In acquiescence with my special wish, I was per- 
mitted to apprentice myself to a master turner. Among 
the Hohenzollerns it is customary for every prince to 
learn a trade. In general, of course, such princely 
apprenticeships must not be regarded too seriously, 
though the tradition is a valuable symbol and " un 
beau geste." Now, while I will not assert that I could 
make my way in the world with my turner's craft, I 
can say with truth that I have practised it with pleasure 
again and again, and that master and apprentice took 
the matter quite seriously. My good master kept me 
hard at it, and I was an ardent and willing pupil, and 
felt thoroughly happy in the atmosphere of the turner's 
workshop and in his simple, cleanly household. 


In these last few weeks of spring on my island I 
have often recalled my apprenticeship at the lathe, as 
just for exercise I have been working in Jan Luijt's 
smithy, hammering sparks from the iron while his son 
plies the bellows. 

Our associations at Plon took us into the families of 
the masters, and we had also friendly relations with 
the grammar-school boys. Furthermore, I had a few 
" friends " among the farmers of the neighbourhood ; 
I ploughed many a piece of their land, and I still re- 
member how proud I was when my furrow turned out 
neat and straight. 

In the year 1887, that is, long before my Plon days, 
an event happened which I must recall here, as it 
made a strong and vivid impression on my young imagi- 
nation. It was my first sea-trip. The aged Queen 
Victoria was to celebrate the jubilee of her reign. My 
parents went to England to take part in the festivity 
and took me with them. It was at a great garden fete 
in St. James's Park that I first saw the Queen sitting 
in a bath-chair in front of a sumptuously decorated 
tent. She was very friendly to me, kissed me and kept 
on fondling me with her aged and slightly trembling 
hands. Unfortunately, I have no recollection whatever 
of the words she spoke ; I only know that my boyish 
fancy was far more occupied with the two giant Indians 
on guard before the tent than with the weary little 
old lady herself. 

The huge multitude in St. James's Park, and the 
intermingling of representatives of almost every race, 
made a deep impression upon me. And if my youth- 
fulness rendered me unable to appreciate the symbolism 
of the British world-power embodied in the picture, it 
nevertheless absorbed with awe the astounding copious- 
ness of what it saw and for ever preserved me from 
underrating the significance of the British Empire. 



IF I regard the turn of the century as the close of my 
childhood and youth, I would consider the years 
which followed as my apprenticeship. 

After I had passed my matriculation examination, 
and following upon the declaration of my majority on 
May 6, 1900, my father placed me in the Leib-Kom- 
panie of the First Foot-Guards, in which regiment, 
according to tradition, every Prussian Prince must 
first serve. This was a good thing ; since that regi- 
ment has always been conspicuous for its excellence, 
and the young princes receive in it a thoroughly strict 
training. I was afterwards appointed lieutenant and 
section leader in the 2nd Company, which my father had 
commanded when a young prince ; accordingly, I said 
to myself : " You are taking here the first steps on 
the road which is to lead you, through years of learning, 
to the great tasks of life." 

I was inspired by the strongest faith in my life and 
my future filled with a sacred determination to be 
honest and conscientious. The moment when, in the 
venerable old Schlosskapelle in Berlin, I took the mili- 
tary oath on the colours of the Leib-Kompanie before 
my Imperial father and Supreme War Lord, still stands 
out clearly before me in all its thrilling solemnity. 

The barracks of the First Foot- Guards, the regiment 
house and the Casino of the Officers' Corps, were now 



my new home ; the rigid and plentiful round of military 
tasks were my new school. My company commander, 
Count Rantzau, was a typical old, experienced and con- 
scientious Prussian officer of the line. He himself was 
always punctual to the minute ; he never spared him- 
self, and he devoted himself wholly to his profession ; 
but he also required the utmost from his officers and 
his men. Accuracy in every detail and severity 
towards slackness were combined with an unerring sense 
of justice and a warm heart which followed with 
human sympathy the progress of every one. His 
company revered him. Now, that excellent man rests 
in French soil before Rheims. 

Stern but just, a man and a superior of the best type, 
honoured and respected by me and by all was like- 
wise my first commander, Colonel von Plettenberg. 
With the same feelings, I recall also my old battalion 
commander, Major von Pliiskow ; a giant even among 
the tall officers of the regiment, he was famous as a 
drill-master and, despite his strictness, much liked as 
an ever-kind superior. 

What I learned in the Foot-Guards formed the 
foundation of my entire military career. The value of 
faithfulness in little things, the much-decried fatigue- 
uniform, the iron discipline and the abused, because 
misunderstood, Prussian drill became clear to me in 
their full significance as a means of concentrating the 
great variety of heads and forces into a single 
unit of the greatest strength. The army trained on 
these principles gained the great and imperishable 
victories of the year 1914. Unfortunately, in the long 
course of the war, this admirable Prussian method 
was thrust more and more into the background, 
greatly to the detriment of the army and its value. 

On the whole, my lieutenancy was an incomparably 
pleasant time. I was young and healthy, carried out 


my duties with passionate devotion and saw life in sun- 
shine before me. A circle of friends of like age with 
myself enabled me to enjoy the blessings of that com- 
radeship which is the most important root whence a 
Prussian corps of officers draws its strength. To-day, 
alas, the green turf of France and Russia covers the 
mortal remains of most of the brave and trusty men 
who were then young and joyous and faithful ; it is 
lonesome around me. 

In those distant days of my lieutenancy and for years 
afterwards three dear friends stood particularly near 
to me ; they were Count Finckenstein, von Wedel and 
von Mitzlaff all of them at that time lieutenants. 
They shared with me joy and sorrow till fate separated 
us for ever. Finckenstein and von Wedel fell in the 
ranks of our fine old regiment my dear Wedel at 
Colonfey and brave Finckenstein at the head of his 
company at Bapaume. Mitzlaff was, for a time, orderly 
officer in my staff ; subsequently he took over a 
squadron in the East and then returned to the west 
front as battalion leader. A mournful shroud hangs 
over the memory of my last sight of this trusty comrade. 
It was in the summer of 1918, just before the last great 
Rheims attack. On a visit to the staff of my brave 
Seventh Reserve Division, I learned by accident that 
my friend Mitzlaff was with his battalion in the neigh- 
bourhood. I at once drove over to him and found him 
in a little half-demolished farmhouse. Seated on a 
broken camp-bed, and sharing some cigarettes and a 
bottle of bad claret which he had managed to rake up 
somewhere in honour of my visit, we chatted for a 
long time about the events of our youth and exchanged 
many an anxious word concerning the future. Both of 
us knew how matters stood and how over-fatigued the 
troops were. Mitzlaff himself, however, was of good 
cheer. Then we held each other's hand for a good 


while and parted. I drove back to my staff quarters ; 
while he moved up into the front position with his 
men. Three weeks later I stood beside his simple 
soldier's grave ; a few days after I had bidden him 
farewell the brave fellow had fallen at the head of his 
men in storming the enemy's position. He was the 
last of my three faithful friends. 

I remained with the First Foot-Guards one year. 
During that time the evening order-slip beside my bed 
determined the hours of the following day. But, in 
that winter, there was not much sleep for me ; for my 
position demanded my presence at court festivities and 
innumerable private gatherings. Often I did not get 
to bed till two o'clock, and by seven I was in the bar- 
racks, where my duties kept me busy till noon and again 
from two till five. Frequently, too, after-dinner atten- 
dance at the cleaning of rifles, saddlery and so on fell 
to my lot. This task I was particularly fond of. My 
grenadiers sat in the lamplight cleaning and polishing 
their kit. This provided a natural opportunity to 
approach them quite closely and humanly and to 
converse with them about their little personal joys, 
sorrows and wishes. They talked of their homes or of 
their civilian occupations with brightened eyes, the 
fine German folk-songs and soldiers' ballads filling up 
the intervals in the conversation. To have shared in 
such an evening would perhaps have opened the eyes 
of the clever people who babble so much about the 
tyranny and harsh treatment of the militarism of that 

During my lieutenancy, as also afterwards, I de- 
voted as much of my leisure time as possible to sport. 
This I did, not merely because of my natural inclina- 
tion for sport, but also because I considered its prac- 
tice to be of particular significance for the future head 
of a State ; and that is, after all, what I was. 


The community of sport is calculated, more than 
anything else, to remove internal and external barriers 
between people of like aims ; for it is exactly in sport 
that the actually and manifestly best performance is 
decisive. Who accomplishes it whether junker, 
business-man or factory-hand ; Christian, Jew or Moslem 
is a matter of indifference. Therefore I have 
repeatedly attended bicycle races, football matches, 
route marches and other sporting events ; and, on 
suitable occasions, I have promoted them by the 
presentation of prizes. This, again, is one of the things 
by which I have given offence : a properly brought up 
heir-apparent should, forsooth, maintain an exalted 
position and hold himself aloof from such noisy 
affairs. Very well, then, I have purposely not been 
this ideal of a stereotyped heir-apparent ; instead, by 
visiting sporting events, I have gained an insight into 
the life and bustle, and into the exigencies and desires 
of many classes of people with whom otherwise, by 
reason of my upbringing and general circumstances, I 
should never have come into contact. 

In those days, however, I was, above all, heart and 
soul a soldier ; and it is no exaggeration to say that 
in the evening I looked forward with pleasure to my 
next day's duties. The training and the association 
with the rank and file, the strict old- Prussian dis- 
cipline, the healthy physical exercise in wind and 
weather, the pride taken in the ancient regimental 
uniform all this made me love the service. 

As with all things else, so too with the soldier's 
calling, one must apply oneself to the task in hand 
with one's whole being and with real love and devotion 
if success is to be obtained. This is the spirit that 
must animate both the officer and his troops. 

Short energetic spells of work with the utmost exercise 
of all one's capacity, smartness and discipline, cleanli- 


ness and punctuality, punishment for every negligence 
or passive resistance, but a warm heart for the meanest 
or the most stupid recruit, gaiety in the barracks, as 
much furlough as possible, exceptional distinctions for 
exceptional performances in a word, sunshine during 
military service, formed the fundamental principle 
which guided me. 

May, 1919. 

Two bitter-sweet days have been mine in this month 
of May. On the sixth I celebrated the thirty-seventh 
anniversary of my birth. Loving letters from my family 
and numberless indications of remembrance from all 
parts of my German homeland proved to me here in 
my seclusion that there are still people who feel 
that they belong to me and cannot be alienated from 
me by a never so wildly raging campaign of slander. 
From the island and from the Dutch mainland, many 
touching indications of love and sympathy have 
also reached me little, well-meant presents for the 
improvement of my modest household, flowers in such 
plenty that the small narrow rooms of the parsonage 
cannot contain them. 

And then, after all the unspeakably severe and lonely 
experience of the past half-year, I was able, with the 
consent of the Dutch Government, to leave the island 
towards the end of the month and to celebrate a day 
with my mother on the estate of good Baron Wrangel. 
" Celebrate " ! I don't know whether the word befits 
the hours in which, arm in arm and no one near, we 
walked up and down in the rose-dappled garden, and, 
as so often in the better days gone by, I was able 
unreservedly to pour out, to my heart's content, all 
that burdened it. To my mother, to that ever sympa- 
thetic and comprehending woman, so clear-sighted and 
wide-visioned in her simple modesty, I could always 


come in past years when my thoughts and my heart 
needed the kindly and soothing hand of a mother to 
smooth out their tangles and creases. It was so when 
I was a child, it was so when I wore my lieutenant's 
uniform, it was so when later in life I had duties to 
fulfil in responsible positions ; and that it has remained 
so to this day has been proved by those few short 
hours in which, after the first shock of reunion, we 
recovered our inward equanimity. Scarcely ever be- 
fore had I felt so deeply the measure with which her 
nature and her blood had determined my own. 

During the initial period of my service in the First 
Foot-Guards, a sorrowful event at the beginning of the 
year 1901 took me once more to London, namely, 
the death of my great-grandmother, the aged Queen 
Victoria of England. 

Since the affair in St. James's Park, in which my 
boyish imagination had been too completely captivated 
by the exotic figures around her for me to gain any- 
thing but a purely superficial idea of the Queen, 
I had seen her twice. Each time the features of her 
character impressed themselves more deeply upon me ; 
my eyes had been opened to the activities of this 
remarkable woman, who maintained to the end her 
resolute nature and strength of will. 

Now, in the winter of 1901, I was to do her the last 

The Queen had died at her beautiful Osborne in the 
Isle of Wight. There the coffin had been placed 
in a small room fitted up as a chapel. Over it was 
spread the English ensign, and six of the tallest 
officers of the Grenadier Guards kept watch beside it. 
In their splendid uniforms, their bearskin-covered 
heads bowed in sorrow, their folded hands resting upon 
their sword-hilts, they guarded, immovable as bronze 
knights, the last sleep of their dead sovereign. 


The transport of the dead Queen to London took place 
on board the Victoria and Albert. During the entire 
passage, which lasted fully three hours, we steamed 
between a double row of ships of the entire British 
navy, whose guns fired once more their salutes to the 

The funeral procession through the streets of Lon- 
don was most impressive. 

A moving incident occurred at Windsor on the way 
from Frogmore Lodge to the Mausoleum. It was a 
bitter winter day ; and the train that brought the 
mortal remains of the Queen was several hours behind 
time. Just as the procession was about to start, the 
six artillery horses of the hearse began to jib ; one of 
the wheelers kicked over the pole ; the coffin began to 
sway, and threatened to slip from its platform. Prompt 
and brief orders were at once given by the then Prince 
Louis of Battenberg, who was in command of the naval 
division drawn up at the spot. The horses were un- 
harnessed, and, almost before one could realize what 
had happened, three hundred British seamen had their 
ropes fixed to the hearse ; with calm tread and almost 
noiselessly, the dead Queen's sailors drew their 
sovereign to her last resting-place. 

In the spring of 1901, the period of my lieutenancy 
came to an end. I was now to study, and, like my 
father before me, I matriculated at Bonn University. 

The four semesters spent at the old alma mater were 
for me two delightful and fruitful years, replete with 
serious study and happy student's life and filled with 
all the enchantment of Rhenish charm and merriment. 

In accordance with tradition I became a member of 
the Borussia (Prussian) Corps. Nevertheless, I was 
not simply and solely a " Bonner Prussian " ; on the 
contrary and rather in despite of the strict forms of 


the corps, I had many friends in other corps of the 
"Bonner S. C." 

My sport-loving heart led me to share with great 
delight in the fencing-practice which formed the pre- 
paratory training for duelling. Fain would I have 
taken active part in the latter ; but, as an officer, I was 
only permitted to use the unmuffled weapon in serious 
affairs of honour. Comprehensible as this youthful im- 
pulse still appears to me and though I by no means wish 
to underrate the value of the " scharfen mensur " for the 
training of eye, hand and nerve, I believe, neverthe- 
less, that our German studentry exaggerated its value. 
As in the question of weapons, so too in regard to 
drinking-bouts, I consider that the " Trinkkomment " 
(the drinking code) for which I never had any great 
liking and to which, as a student, I submitted unwil- 
lingly needs to be purged of many formulae that have 
developed into abuses. This, moreover, is called for 
by the pressure of present circumstances. Genuine 
and practical love for the German fatherland, in its 
distress and humiliation, means work, and work and 
work again ; it means this especially for our youth, 
who, in the self-training of their own personalities, are 
preparing values for the national entity on which may 
depend the fate of the coming generation. 

The hours of my delightful Bonn days that were not 
occupied in study or in corps life I employed in inter- 
course with people of all classes in the Rhineland. I 
accepted gratefully the hospitality of professors, mer- 
chants and manufacturers, in whose families I was 
welcomed with genuine Rhenish cordiality. Having 
hitherto come into touch mainly with people of the 
military class, these new associations provided me with 
copious fresh and vivid impressions as a valuable 
additional gain to the intellectual stimulus of the 
university studies proper. To these studies I devoted 


myself with ardour, and I often think with gratitude 
of the prominent men who acted as my counsellors 
and mentors, such men as : Zitelmann, Litzmann, 
Gothein, Betzold, Schumacher, Clemen and Anschiitz. 
With special indebtedness I recall the brilliant lectures 
of Zorn, the famous professor of constitutional law ; 
and a strong bond of confidence and friendship still 
unites me with that great teacher. 

Out of my intercourse at Bonn with intellectual 
leaders in the fields of science, technology, industry 
and politics, there arose in me the desire henceforth 
to occupy myself more than ever before with the prob- 
lems of our home and foreign policy, and especially 
with matters of sociology. 

Like the lieutenant's period of my life, the two sunny 
years at Bonn sped rapidly by. They brought me an 
abundance of delightful and valuable experiences : the 
enjoyment of nature in a world full of beauty, youthful 
knowledge, attachment to select and clever men, 
Rhenish joyousness and the germs of much knowledge 
that ripened later into intellectual possessions. 

Some amount of travel, undertaken during the vaca- 
tions (in the late summer of 1901 through England 
and Holland) and, with my brother Eitel Fritz, at the 
close of my university career, also helped to widen my 
intellectual vision. The impressions afforded me I 
welcomed with an awakened and more receptive mind 
than ever before. 

When I recall those travels, two figures particularly 
stand out before me as lifelike and undimmed as though 
not years but only days or at most weeks separated 
me from them. These are Abdul Hamid, the last of the 
Sultans of the old regime, and Pope Leo XIII. Strange 
as it may seem, these two men, who, in their natures 
and in their world, differed in the extreme both out- 
wardly and inwardly, are inseparably united in my 


mind by circumstances from which I can scarcely 
detach myself. In the solemn completeness of the 
Vatican, seemingly so untouched by haste or time, and 
in the fairyland of the Sultan's court, so entirely 
remote from every occidental standard and law, there 
was revealed to me something utterly new and unsus- 
pected, something into which I entered with astonish- 
ment. These men the most remarkable Pope of the 
twentieth century (for whose spiritualized being I 
could not, for a moment, feel anything but the deepest 
awe) and the ruthless, almighty Padishah (in whose 
presence I quickly recovered my self-possession) both 
had the same expression of eye. Penetrating, clever, 
infinitely pondering and experienced, they looked at 
you with their grey eyes, in which age had drawn 
sharply-defined white rings around the piercing pupils. 

The picture that awaited my brother Eitel Fritz and 
myself as we arrived at Constantinople on board the 
English yacht Sapphire on a wonderful spring morning, 
was absolutely enchanting ; and the events of the few 
days during which we were guests at the Golden Horn 
deepened the impression that we were dreaming a 
dream out of the Arabian Nights. 

Shortly after our arrival in the harbour, the Sultan's 
favourite son came to welcome us in the name of his 
father ; and towards noon the Estrogul Dragoons 
excellent-looking troops on small white Arabs escorted 
us to the Yildiz Kiosk, where the Sultan received us 
at the head of his General Staff and his court suite. 

Abdul Hamid was an exceptionally fascinating per- 
sonality small, bow-legged, animated, a typical Arme- 
nian Semite. He was exceedingly friendly, I might 
almost say paternal, towards us. 

We were quartered in a very beautiful kiosk of the 
enormous Palace buildings of the Yildiz. About half 
an hour after we had occupied our rooms, the Sultan 


came to pay us a return visit. He arrived in a little 
basket-chaise, driving the nimble horses himself and 
followed on foot by his entire big suite. This included 
many elderly stout generals, and as the Sultan 
drove at a trot and these good dignitaries were deter- 
mined not to be left behind, their appearance when they 
got to the palace was anything but ravishing. 

The rules of the country permitted Abdul Hamid to 
speak nothing but Turkish ; consequently, our conversa- 
tions with him had to be interpreted sentence by 
sentence and were excessively wearisome. Moreover, 
the old gentleman understood our French perfectly, 
and when I happened to tell him some humorous 
anecdote or other, it was most amusing to see him 
laughing heartily long before the dragoman, with the 
solemnity of a judge, had given him the translation. 

In the evening a banquet was to be given in our 
honour. Where this was to take place no one knew 
at first, since the Sultan's fear of would-be assassins 
was so great that he took the precaution to keep the 
time and place of such festivities secret as long as 
possible. At the last minute, therefore, and much to 
the confusion of the marshals of his court, he issued 
the command for the dinner to be given in a great 

The Sultan and I sat at the head of an interminably 
long table. Every one else, including my poor brother, 
had to sit sideways so as to face the Padishah ; there 
was not much chance of eating anything, but the sight 
of the Sultan is as good as meat and drink to a believ- 
ing Mohammedan. 

It struck me that my exalted host was wearing 
a very thick and ill-fitting uniform, till a sudden 
movement on his part revealed to me the fact that he 
had a shirt of mail concealed underneath it. In con- 
versation he evinced great interest in all German affairs 



and proved to be thoroughly informed on the most varied 
subjects ; we discussed naval problems, the recent 
results of Polar research, the latest publications on the 
German book market and, above all, military questions. 

The days that followed were no less interesting than 
the first. We visited the sights of the city and its 
environs, and the old gentleman displayed a touching 
care for our welfare. 

On the last day of our sojourn he invited us to a 
private dinner in his own apartments. The only other 
people present were my attendants, the German Am- 
bassador and the Sultan's favourite son. The Sultan, 
who was very fond of music, had asked me to play him 
something on the violin. The Prince accompanied me 
on the piano, and we played an air from Cavalleria 
Rusticana, a cavatina by Raff, and Schumann's Trdu- 
merei. Then there followed an affecting incident. As 
a surprise for the old gentleman, I had practised the 
Turkish National Anthem with my army doctor, Ober- 
stabsarzt Widemann ; and as soon as we had finished 
playing it, the Sultan, who seemed to be deeply moved, 
flung his arms about me ; then, at a sign from him, 
an adjutant appeared with a cushion on which lay 
the gold and silver medal for arts and sciences, and 
this the Ruler of all the Ottomans pinned to my breast. 
Then he showed us his private museum, containing all 
the presents received by him and his ancestors from 
other European princes. Here, among a great quantity 
of trash, were grouped a number of beautiful and 
valuable articles. Thus, I recall an amber cupboard 
presented by Frederick William I. 

This meeting with old Abdul Hamid has remained 
for me one of the most interesting encounters that I 
have ever had with foreign princes. 

In my twenty-second year I was appointed to the 


command of the 2nd Company of the First Foot-Guards. 
The abundance of work involved by this responsible 
position for the next two and a half years brought me 
the greatest satisfaction. That I was entrusted with this 
particular company rilled me with peculiar pleasure, as 
I had become acquainted with all my non-commissioned 
officers when a lieutenant. The heads of companies, 
squadrons and batteries form, in conjunction with the 
regimental commanders, the backbone of the army, 
inasmuch as, within the scope of their duties, the value 
of the individual as leader and trainer has a chance 
of making itself felt. But not much inferior to the 
personal importance of the head of the company must 
be ranked the personality of the serjeant-major, signifi- 
cantly dubbed in Germany the " company's mother." 
My own sergeant-major, Wergin, was a devoted and 
conscientious man who set an example to all in the 
company. Early and late his thoughts were occupied 
with the royal Prussian service, and he was, at the 
same time, continually busied about the welfare of his 
hundred and twenty grenadiers. 

In themselves the labours which fell to us captains 
in the First Foot-Guards were light and gratifying. 
The corps of non-commissioned officers was complete 
and consisted throughout of thoroughly efficient men ; 
while the recruits of each year were excellent, all of 
them being well-educated young fellows and represent- 
ing, in many cases, the fourth generation of service 
with the regiment or even with the same company. 
On the other hand, there was a certain difficulty in the 
bodily dimensions of the men. The height of many of 
them was altogether out of proportion to their breadth, 
and it was necessary to exercise great care lest they 
should, at the outset, be subjected to over-exertion. 
Furthermore, my tall grenadiers could eat an incredible 
quantity of food ! With my company and with the 


troops afterwards entrusted to me, I laid great stress 
upon smartness and discipline. Our combined move- 
ments and our drill as a whole were worth seeing, and 
the grenadiers themselves were proud of their unim- 
peachable form. 

My general principles were short but very energetic 
spells of duty ; for the rest, leave the men as much as 
possible unmolested ; plenty of furlough, fun in the 
barracks, excursions, visits to the sights of the town 
and its surroundings, occasional attendance at theatres, 
a minimum of disciplinary punishments. My men 
soon knew that, when he had to punish them, their 
captain suffered more than they did themselves. I 
endeavoured to work upon their sense of honour, and 
that was nearly always effective. 

Of course, in the foregoing, the duties and labours of 
a company's captain are anything but exhausted. 
Apart from all questions of military service, he must 
be a true father to his soldiers ; he must know each 
individual and know where the shoe pinches in every 
particular case. Just this phase of the officer's calling 
gave me the greatest pleasure, and its exercise gained 
for me the confidence and the attachment of every one 
of my grenadiers. They came to me with their troubles 
both small and great, and I felt myself happy in their 
firm and honest confidingness. Some fine, charming 
young fellows have passed thus through my hands. 
Many a one I met again afterwards in the war ; many 
a one now rests in foreign soil, true to the motto on the 
helmet of our first battalion : Semper tails. 

Despite this passionate and devoted attention to my 
duties with the First Foot-Guards, in which regiment 
I made closer acquaintance with my two former adju- 
tants and future lords-in-waiting the conscientious 
Stiilpnagel and the faithful Behr I was not purely 
and solely a soldier during those years. The Bonn 


impetus continued active, and the living questions of 
politics, economics, art and technical science occupied 
even more of my leisure time than in the years that 
had opened my eyes to their importance. 

Whereas, in the year of my lieutenancy, I had joined 
with a certain interest and curiosity in all the Court 
festivities that came in my way, an ever-increasing 
dislike for the pomp of these affairs began to develop 
within me as my judgment matured. The much too 
frequently repeated ceremonial, maintained as it 
was here in rigid form, appeared to me often enough 
to be an empty and almost painful anachronism. How 
many deeply reproachful or gently admonitory glances 
have I not received from the eyes of court marshals 
whose holiest feelings I had wounded ! But here, as 
in so many other spheres, the exaggeration of the 
circumscribed, the "exalted," the congealed, had 
impelled me to a noticeable nonchalance not by any 
means always intentional, often enough involuntary 
and as though a reaction was bound to take place of 
its own accord. 

Court festivities ! Thinking of them reminds me of 
a man for whom and for whose art I always cherished 
the greatest veneration, and the sight of whom on 
these occasions invariably filled me with pleasure and 
brought a smile to my lips. This was Adolf Menzel. His 
appearance was generally preceded by a tragi-comedy 
in his home and on the way to the Palace, for he 
was so deeply absorbed in his work till the last moment 
that no amount of subsequent haste in dressing could 
enable him to arrive in time. In his later years an 
adjutant of my father's was always sent to fetch him, 
and this messenger often enough had to help in getting 
him dressed. But it was all to no purpose ; he still 
came late. 

Indelibly imprinted on my memory is Menzel as I 


saw him at the celebration of the Order of the Black 
Eagle. On this occasion, the Knights wear the big red 
velvet robes and the chain of this high order. The 
little man, whom none of the robes would fit, struggled 
wildly the whole time with his train, at which he kept 
looking daggers from his spectacled, but expressively 
flashing, eyes. 

At the close of the ceremony, it was customary for 
the knights to defile, two by two, before the throne, to 
make their obeisance to the Kaiser and to leave the 
chamber. According to the order of rank, it always 
happened that the dwarfish Menzel was accom- 
panied by the abnormally tall hausminister , von Wedel. 
When this ill-matched couple stood before the throne, 
the sight was in itself sufficient to fill one with a 
warm sense of amusement. But when, at the same 
time, the artist was aroused in MenzeFs bosom, it was 
difficult to restrain one's hilarity. Menzel seemed to 
forget altogether where he was, and I have seen him, 
entirely captivated by the picturesqueness of the scene 
before him, give his head a sudden jerk, set his arms 
akimbo and stare long and fixedly at my father. 
Meantime old Wedel had delivered his correct court 
bow and was marching off, when, to his horror, he 
noticed his partner still planted before the throne. 

I don't know which delighted me more at that 
moment, whether the perplexed and dismayed face of 
the hausminister, who felt himself implicated in an un- 
heard-of breach of traditional etiquette, or the little 
genius, who, turning his head first one way then the 
other, gazed at the Kaiser, heedless of those waiting 
impatiently behind him for the space in front of the 
throne. In the end, Wedel took courage and plucked 
Menzel by the sleeve. This interruption greatly 
annoyed the seemingly very choleric master of the 
brush. If a look can foam with rage, it was the one 


that, with head thrown back, Menzel flung up into 
the eyes of his tall companion. Then, gathering up 
the skirts of his robe, he stumbled, angry and offended, 
out of the room. It was as though he seemed to be 
saying to himself : " Bah ! What a gathering, where 
one may not even look at people for a bit." 

Time and again have I stood and chatted with him 
at such court ceremonies. He was full of dry humour, 
sarcasm and criticism. Nothing escaped his notice ; 
and since, little by little, people had ceased to expect 
from him a strict subordination to rules, he had come 
to regard himself as a species of superior outsider and 
perhaps felt fairly happy in the exceptional position, 
which certainly provided him with many an artistic 

For my part, as already stated, these festivities, in 
which everyone made a show of his own vain-glory, 
soon lost all attraction for me. Their rigid mechanical 
nature became dreary ; their stiff pomp was like a mosaic 
made up of a thousand petty vanities set in consequen- 
tially of every shade. I perfectly well recognized 
that ceremonial festivities necessitated a certain for- 
mality ; but it appeared to me that they ought also 
to be animated by an innate freedom, and of this there 
was scarcely a trace perceptible. 

In free and unconstrained intercourse with capable 
men of every category, with artists, authors, sportsmen, 
merchants, and manufacturers, I found greater stimu- 
lus than in these courtly shows. Moreover, as a lover 
of sport and the chase, I gave my physical frame its due 
share in cheerful exertion. 

Withal, I felt the vexation of having continually to 
take into consideration my position as Prince. In 
everything that I undertook, I was surrounded by 
people who with the best intentions, no doubt, but 
much to my annoyance rehearsed, again and again, 


their two little maxims : " Your Imperial Highness must 
not do that," and " Your Imperial Highness must now 
do this." Any attempt to repulse these admonitions 
or to introduce the freedom of action of a free being 
into this fusty formalism met with a total lack of 
understanding. It was, therefore, best to let people 
talk and to do what seemed most simple and natural. 

Only one person showed any sympathy with my 
chafing at restraint or any comprehension of my desire 
to be a little less " Crown Prince " and a little more of a 
contemporary human being. It was my dear mother. 
Ever and again, when I sat talking with her on such 
matters, I felt how much of her nature she had passed 
on to me only what in my blood offered masculine 
resistance had ultimately accommodated itself and 
quieted down in her. For this self-resignation she 
undoubtedly drew never-failing energy from the deep 
religiousness of her nature. 

To the strictly religious character of her ethical 
views is also to be attributed her urgent desire that 
we, her sons, should enter wedlock ' pure " and 
untouched by experiences with other women. With 
this object in view, she and those around us whom 
she had instructed endeavoured to keep us, as far as 
practicable, aloof from anyone and every one who 
might possibly lead us astray from the straight paths 
of virtue. Undoubtedly my mother, in her thoughts 
and purposes, was inspired by the best intentions in 
regard to us and to our moral and physical welfare ; 
and, whatever nonsense may have been early circu- 
lated about me, I, at any rate, cannot have greatly 
disappointed her. 



June, 1919. 

WROTE letters first thing. Then, after breakfast, 
two hours at the anvil in the smithy. Luijt told 
me that an American had offered twenty-five guilders 
for a horseshoe that I had forged. Might he give him 
one ? These people are, after all, incorrigibly ready 
to inspire the likes of us with megalomania even 
when we sit on a grassy island far from their madding 
crowd. At one time they used to pick up my cigarette- 
ends ; and now, for a piece of iron that has been 
under my hammer, a snob offers a sum that would 
help a poor man out of his misery in the old homeland. 
It is not surprising to me that many a one, under the 
influence of this cult, has become what he is ! No, 
we are not always the sole culprits ! 

I left Luijt and went down to the sea, stripped and 
plunged in. How that washes the wretchedness out of 
you for a while and makes you forget the whole thing ! 

About noon, I told my dear Kummer, who has 
been with me for some time, the story of the American. 
He is on fire with enthusiasm ! " Twenty-five guilders, 
at the present rate of exchange ! I'd keep on making 
horseshoes for those Johnnies the whole day." 

After dinner, looked through the old notes of the 
battles at Verdun and worked at the subject for the 
book. Took a walk with Kummer. 



And now it is evening again. 

Another day passed. How long will it be now ? 

On a beautiful and memorable summer's day of 
the year 1904, in fir-encircled Gelbensande, the seat 
of the Dowager Grand-duchess Anastasia Michailovna 
of Mecklenburg, I was betrothed to Cecilie, Duchess 
of Mecklenburg. Not quite eighteen years of age, she 
was in the first blush of youth and full of gaiety and 
joyousness. The years of her childhood, in the society 
of her somewhat self-willed but loving and beautiful 
mother, had been replete with serene happiness. 

On a bright June day of the following year, my 
beautiful young bride gave me her hand for life. She 
entered Berlin on roses ; she was received by the 
welcoming shouts of many thousands ; she started 
upon her new career upborne by the love and sym- 
pathy of a whole people. And as, on that day, I rode 
down the Linden with my 2nd Company to form the 
guard of honour, the warm-hearted participation of 
all that great throng touched me very deeply. More- 
over, the city and the happy faces, the many pretty 
girls and the roses all over the place, presented an 
unforgettable picture. My grenadiers naturally felt 
that they quite belonged to the family and stepped out 

A kind destiny permitted my choice to be free from 
all political or dynastic considerations. It fell upon 
her to whom my heart went out, and] who gave me 
her hand as freely and whole-heartedly in return. 
Our union was the outcome of genuine and sincere 

Shall I take any notice of all the nonsense that 
has been talked and written concerning my wedded 
life ? If the good people who have such " brilliant 
connections" and consequently such " intimate insight " 
and " reliable information " would but be a little 


less self-important ! I can say this : whenever the 
newspapers printed such things as " The Divorce of 
the Crown Prince Imminent," my wife and I had a 
good laugh over the matter. What a craving for 
sensation possesses the public ! 

I can only thank my wife from the bottom of my 
heart for having been to me the best and most faithful 
friend and companion, a tender helpmate and mother, 
forbearing and forgiving in regard to many a fault, 
full of comprehension for what I am, holding to me 
unswervingly in fortune and in distress. 

She has presented me with six healthy and dear 
children whom I am proud of with all my heart and 
for whom I feel a longing as often as I stroke the 
head of one of these flaxen-haired little fisher-lads 
here. May my four boys some day be brave German 
men, doing their duty to their country as true Hohen- 
zollerns ! 

During the time of severe torment that followed 
Germany's downfall, my wife stuck to her post with 
exemplary faithfulness and bravery and, in a hundred 
difficult situations, proved herself to possess that 
strong, noble nature for which I love and revere her. 

After all, " war " has made its way into our married 

In 1915, the Crown Princess paid me a two-days' 
visit in my head-quarters at Stenay. At four o'clock 
in the morning of the second day, there began a French 
air attack manifestly aimed full at my house, which, 
at that time, had no bomb-proof cellar or dug-out. 
A direct hit would undoubtedly have meant thorough 
work. The attack lasted two hours. In that time, 
twenty-four aeroplanes dropped bombs around us and 
a hundred and sixty bombs were counted. Several 
of them landed only a few yards from the house, and, 
unfortunately, claimed a number of victims. It was 


the severest air attack that I had ever experienced, 
and was a test to the nerves in which my wife showed 
the greatest courage and calmness. The way in which 
she stood the strain was magnificent. 

Following upon my captaincy in the First Foot- 
Guards, I was now to be appointed to the command 
of a squadron. Through the mediation of his Excel- 
lency, von Hiilsen, I requested His Majesty to entrust 
me with a squadron of the Gardes du Corps. At first, 
His Majesty wished to appoint me to the Hussars. 
Ultimately, he gave way and placed me, in January, 
1906, at the head of the Leib-eskadron of the Gardes 
du Corps, though, instead of the handsome uniform 
of that regiment, he ordered me, by special decree, 
to wear the uniform of the Queen's Cuirassiers. 

In this new position, my love of horses found 
once more a wide field of activity, and I look back 
with great satisfaction to the delightful period during 
which I was attached to this proud regiment, whose 
glorious traditions are so intimately bound up with 
the history of the Brandenburg-Prussian State. That 
it was no mere parade troop was proved at Zorndorf 
and again in the gigantic struggle of the world-war. 
It was a bitter-sweet joy to me to receive, only a few 
days ago, a loving sign that the old and well-tried 
members of the body-squadron had not forgotten 
their former leader in his present misfortune : on my 
birthday, May 6, a small album containing the signa- 
tures of the officers and gardes du corps of the old 
squadron found its way to my quiet island. Of the 
officers and of the gardes du corps ! How many names 
are wanting ! East and west repose those whose 
names are not in the album. My thoughts wander 
in both directions to greet the brave dead. 

Here, although it belongs to a later period, I would 


say a word about my appointment to the third mili- 
tary weapon the artillery. To render me familiar 
with it, I was appointed, in the spring of 1909, to the 
command of the Leib-batterie of the First Field Artillery. 
I felt particularly happy in this excellent regiment 
excellent both from a military standpoint and in its 
comradeship ; and I recall with sincere gratitude the 
assistance given me by my faithful mentor, Major the 
Count Hopfgarten, and his manifold suggestions in 
matters relating to artillery. 

Even at that time, the mode of employing our field- 
artillery and, to some extent also, our mode of firing, 
struck me, in some points, as out of date when com- 
pared with French regulations. About five years 
later, the experiences of the war demonstrated that 
the French army really had gained a start of us in 
the development of this weapon. With us the tech- 
nology of artillery had dropped behind the eques- 
trology ; the horse had obtained too many privileges 
over the cannon. 

As personal adjutant, I asked and obtained the 
services of Captain von der Planitz. This excellent 
and well-trained officer, whom I shall ever gratefully 
remember as a sincere and noble man and as my 
long-standing and trusted companion and counsellor, 
fell as commander of a division in Flanders. 

A report is being circulated by the newspapers which 
purports to come from an eye-witness of the murder 
of Tsar Nicholas, and to reveal, in all its horrors, his 
bloody end. 

This description, whose ghastliness is only enhanced 
by its cold objectivity, I read this morning. Ever 
since, as the rain outside has continued to pour down 
ceaselessly, my thoughts have reverted again and 
again to this poor man, to him and those around 


him, on the two occasions that I came into closer 
contact with him first, as his guest in Russia, and 
afterwards on the one occasion that he was our guest 
in Berlin. 

Now, as I write these lines in recollection of him, it 
is night. 

When I first met Tsar Nicholas at Petrograd in 
January, 1903, he was in the height of his power. 
I had been dispatched to take part in the Benediction 
of the Waters. The court and the troops formed an 
exceptionally brilliant framework to the celebration. 
But the Tsar himself, who was at bottom a simple 
and homely person and most cordial and unconstrained 
in intimate circles appeared irresolute, I might almost 
say timid, in his public capacity. The ravishingly 
beautiful Empress Alexandra was, in such matters, 
no support for him, since she herself was painfully 
bashful, indeed almost shy. In complete contrast to 
her, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, embodied 
perfectly the conception of majesty and of the grande 
dame, and she exercised also the chief influence in 
the political and court circles of Petrograd. It was 
particularly noticeable how little the Tsar understood 
how to ensure the prestige due to him from the mem- 
bers of his family, i.e. from the grand dukes and 
grand duchesses. When, for instance, the company 
had met previous to a dinner, and the Imperial couple 
entered, scarcely a member of the family took any 
notice of it. An absolutely provocative laxity was 
displayed on such occasions by the Grand Duke 
Nicholai Nicholaievitch, who, by the way, did not 
hesitate, in conversation with me, to give fairly pointed 
expression to his dislike of everything German. In 
vain did I look for traces, in Petrograd, of the 
old friendship between Prussia and Russia ; English 
and French were the linguistic mediums ; for Germany 


no one had any interest ; more often than not I even 
came across open repugnance. Only two men did 
I meet with who manifested any marked liking for 
Germany, namely Baron Fredericks and Sergei Juli- 
vitch Witte, who, a few years later, was made a count. 
With Witte I had a long talk upon the question of a 
new Russo-German treaty of commerce, in the course 
of which the politician, with his far-sighted views of 
finance and political economy, maintained emphatic- 
ally that, in his opinion, the healthy development of 
Russia depended closely upon her proceeding economic- 
ally hand in hand with Germany. 

The fear of assassins was very great at the Court. 
Among the many precautionary and preventive 
measures which I saw taken everywhere, one that I 
met with on paying the Tsar a late evening visit made 
a deep impression upon me. In the vestibule of his 
private apartments, the Emperor's entire bodyguard 
of about one hundred men were posted like the pieces 
on a chessboard. It was impossible for anyone to 
pass ; and my entrance created the greatest alarm 
and excitement. 

Within the inner circle of his family, the Emperor 
was an utterly changed being. He was a happy, 
harmless, amiable man, tenderly attached to his wife 
and children. From the Empress, too, disappeared that 
nervousness and restlessness which took possession 
of her in public ; she became a lovable, warm-hearted 
woman and, surrounded by her young and well-bred 
daughters, she presented a picture of grace and beauty. 
I spent some delightful hours there. 

On the second occasion, my wife and I were invited 
to Tsarskoe Selo. Here I might have imagined myself 
on the country estate of some wealthy private magnate, 
save that, at every step, the police and military pre- 
cautions reminded me that I was the guest of a ruler 


who did not trust his own people. Tsarskoe stands in 
a great park. Outside the palings was drawn up a 
cordon of Cossacks who trotted up and down night 
and day to keep watch. Within the park stood 
innumerable sentinels, while inside the palace one 
saw everywhere sentinels in couples with fixed bayonets. 
I said to my wife at the time that it made you 
feel as though you were in a prison, and that I would 
rather risk being bombed than live permanently such 
a life as that. 

A distressing motor drive still remains vivid in my 
memory. The Tsar wanted to show us the palace 
on the lake-side. We started off in a closed carriage. 
It was the first time, for months, that the Emperor 
had left Tsarskoe. The drive lasted about four hours. 
The impression was cheerless and deeply depressing. 
Every place we passed through seemed dead; no 
one was permitted to show himself in the streets 
or at the windows save, of course, soldiers and 
policemen. Weird silence and oppressive anxiety 
hung over everybody and everything. To be forced 
to conceal oneself like that ! It was a life not worth 

We also took part in a great military review. The 
Guards looked brilliant ; and, true to their ancient 
tradition, they later on fought brilliantly in the war. 
An uncommonly picturesque impression was made by 
the bold-looking Don, Ural and Transbaikal Cossacks 
on their small, scrubby horses. 

The reception in the family circle was as hearty as 
on my first visit. For hours we canoed about the 
canals, and discussed exhaustively many a political 
problem. These talks convinced me that the Tsar 
cherished sincere sympathy for Germany, but was 
too weak to combat effectually the influence of the 
great anti-German party ; the Dowager Empress and 




the Grand Duke Nicholai both pronounced opponents 
of Germany possessed the upper hand. 

Tsar Nicholas was not, in my judgment, the person- 
ality that Russia needed on the throne. He lacked 
resolution and courage and was out of touch with his 
people. As a simple country gentleman, he might 
perhaps have been happy and have had many friends ; 
but he did not possess the qualities essential to lead a 
nation to the -full development of its powers ; possibly, 
indeed, his timid mind scarcely dared even contemplate 
the merest shadow of such qualities. 

Deeply tragical appeared to us, even at that time 
the weakly and continually ailing little heir-apparent, 
Alexis Nicholaievitch. Though already nine years 
old, he was usually carried about like a little wounded 
creature by a giant of a sailor. With anxious and 
trembling tenderness the parents clung to this fragile 
offspring of the later years of their wedlock, who was 
expected some day to wear the imperial crown of 

All over ! Gone in blood and horror this little 
wearily flickering life. 

After I had completed another two and a half years 
of military service, I felt a lively desire to fill in the 
very considerable gaps in my knowledge of political 
and economic affairs. Wishes repeatedly expressed 
by me in the matter had hitherto been disregarded, 
which was the more remarkable as, in the history of 
our house, the ruler for the time being had always 
treated the timely preparation of the heir-apparent for 
his future career as a particularly urgent duty of the 
office conferred upon him. Consequently, I felt myself 
ill-u%ed in being thus denied the opportunity to grasp 
and fathom subjects whose mastery was essential for 


me. Without exaggeration, I can say that I had to 
wrestle tenaciously and uncompromisingly for admis- 
sion to an environment in which I might acquire this 
indispensable knowledge. 

It was therefore with all the greater satisfaction 
that, in October, 1907, I welcomed the Kaiser's finally 
consenting to attach me to the bureau of the Lord 
Lieutenant at Potsdam, to the Home Office, to the 
Exchequer, and to the Admiralty. I was, however, 
to wait a while before being initiated into questions 
of foreign policy ; these were treated as a trifle mys- 
terious and as though they lay within the sphere of 
some occult art. For the present, therefore, I was 
to have the opportunity of attending lectures on 
machine construction and electrotechnics at the Uni- 
versity of Technology in Charlottenburg, where I 
might acquire a more extensive acquaintance with these 
subjects which had always aroused my peculiar interest. 

Thus the obstacles that had heretofore stood in my 
way were now removed ; doors that had been kept 
religiously closed to me at last opened to my hankering 
for knowledge. 

My determination to acquire knowledge in the various 
ministries greatly facilitated by my father's orders 
to supply me with every desired information speedily 
led to my occupying myself busily with the great 
questions of the day and their international inter- 
dependence ; and thus I soon found myself absorbed 
in the study of the German and the foreign Press. 

The pulse of our life is the newspaper : in it beats the 
heart of the times ; inertness and activity, lassitude and 
fever here both impress and express themselves, and, 
for him who has to care for the well-being of the entire 
national organism, they become, under certain circum- 
stances, admonishing and warning voices. In that year 
of study which I devoted to the Press, my first modest 


gain was that I learned to estimate clearly the signifi- 
cance of the newspaper for those who are willing to hear, 
to see, and to recognize ; yes, for those who will hear, 
see, and recognize, and are not blinded to the signs of 
the times by an ostrich-like psychology either imposed 
upon them or voluntarily adopted. 

Of course, I had read the newspapers before, in the 
ordinary acceptation of the term. Mainly, I had con- 
fined myself to journals of the conservative type 
and colourless, well-disposed news-sheets ; though I 
had, at any rate, read them unmutilated by anybody 
else's scissors. Now, I ploughed my way daily through 
the whole field from the Kreuzzeitung to the Vorwdrts ; 
and often an article marked by me found its way to 
the proper persons to give me the required explana- 
tions and enlightenment. 

Consequently, in regard to particular cultural and 
political questions, I soon arrived at a point of view 
which showed me the problems from quite a different 
angle from that adopted by His Majesty on the ground 
of the press-cuttings and the reports presented to him. 
The humour of history was grotesquely inverted : the 
King was guided ad, usum delphini, and the Dauphin 
drew his knowledge out of the fullness of life. By 
reason of this deeper insight into the driving forces 
of the masses and of the times, many of the fundamental 
notions kept to by the Kaiser in his method of govern- 
ment appeared to me to have lost their roots and to 
be no longer reconcilable with the spirit of modern 
monarchy with its wise recognition of recent develop- 
ments and current phenomena. 

Besides the German state organization, there was 
another which, at that time, aroused my special interest, 
namely, the British. I had been about a good deal in 
England, and, in many an hour's talk on this fascinating 
subject my great-uncle, King Edward, had lovingly in- 


structed me concerning England's political structure, in 
which I recognized many a feature of value to our 
younger development. When I recall these memorable 
conversations, in which my part was that of a thoroughly 
unsophisticated young disciple of a successful past- 
master and fatherly friend, it strikes me that the King 
wanted to bestow upon me something more than a 
simple lesson in the conditions of England ; it was 
rather as though this, in his own way, highly talented 
man recognized that the ideas which had governed 
the first two decades of my father's reign had been 
leading further and further from the lines along which 
the monarchy of Germany ought to develop, if that 
monarchy were to remain the firmly-established and 
organic consummation of the State's structure ; it 
was as though he clearly and consciously meant to 
call my attention to this danger point, in order to 
warn me and to win me to better ways even at the 
threshold of my political career. 

All that my old great-uncle imparted to me out of 
the fullness of his observation and experience I gladly 
accepted and developed, and doubtless it has had its 
share in forming my views concerning the Kaiser's 
maxims of government and in my feeling a strong 
inclination for the constitutional system in operation 
in England. 

During this period of eager study, I received from 
Admiral von Tirpitz, the head of the Admiralty, some 
particularly deep and stimulating impressions. In 
him I found a really surpassing personality, a man 
who did not stare rigidly at the narrow field of his 
own tasks and duties, but who saw the effects of the 
whole as they appeared in the distant political perspec- 
tive and who served the whole with all the comprehen- 
sive capacities of his ample creative vigour. 

The great work of producing a German navy had 


been entrusted to him by the Kaiser, and his life, his 
thoughts and his activities were entirely filled with the 
desire and determination to master the enormous 
task for the good of the empire and in spite of all 
external and internal opposition. How well he suc- 
ceeded has been proved by the Battle of Jutland, which 
will ever remain for him an honourable witness and 
memorial Jutland, where the fleet created by him 
and inspired by his mind passed so brilliantly through 
its baptismal fire in contest with the immensely 
stronger first navy of the world. Germany had then 
every reason to be proud of the glorious valour and 
exemplary discipline of her young bluejackets. 

Only in one fundamental question did I, in that 
year of co-operation, differ from the Lord High Admiral. 
He held firm to the conviction that the struggle with 
England for the freedom of the seas must, sooner or 
later, be fought out. His object was the " risk idea," 
that is to say, he maintained that our navy must be 
made so strong that any possible contest with us would 
appear to the English to be a dangerous experiment 
because the chances of the game would then be too 
great chances that could not be risked without 
involving the possibility of the English dominion of 
the seas being entirely lost. To the ideal principle 
underlying this defence theory I did not shut my eyes ; 
but, considering our political and economic position, 
it seemed to me that its form, which presupposed our 
being the sole opposing rival of England at sea, did 
not permit its realization. I was rather of opinion 
that the " risk idea " could only ripen into a healthy, 
vigorous and real balance of power at sea, if the counter- 
poise to England were formed in combination with 
another Great Power whose land forces for this purpose 
would not come into consideration, but whose navy in 
conjunction with our own would yield a force adequate 


to gain the respect and restraint aimed at. In this 
way, if the thing were at all feasible, not only could 
an immense reduction of our naval burden be effected, 
but it would be easier to overcome the great danger 
of the whole problem, namely, the smothering of our 
sea-forces before? their goal had been reached ; for I 
always frankly maintained and asserted that the 
British would never wait until our " risk idea " 
had materialized, but, consistently pursuing their own 
policy, would destroy our greatly suspected navy 
long before it could develop into an equally-matched 
and in the sense of the " risk idea " dangerous 

That, in point of fact, the will to adopt such a radical 
course was not wanting was further proved to me 
recently on reading Admiral Fisher's book. He states 
the matter with astounding candour in the following 
way : " Already in the year 1908, I proposed to the 
King to Copenhagen the German navy." 

In consequence of our political isolation, all my 
doubts and considerations had to remain doubts and 
considerations. An ally whose navy came into con- 
sideration as an adjunct to ours we did not possess. 
Nor would an alliance with Russia, such as was 
aimed at by Tirpitz, have given us the help of such a 

When the various efforts to bring about an under- 
standing over the naval question had all failed, the right 
moment and the last chance arrived for England to 
try conclusions with the German navy with some 
likelihood of success. The opportunity of war in 
the year 1914 offered that chance, and provided also 
an unexampled war-cry ; there were binding treaties 
to be kept, and England could likewise appear as a 
spotless hero and the protector of all small nations. 

In all this, too, it was naturally not the naval 


problem per se which induced England to seize this 
opportunity of joining in a war against Germany. Sea- 
power is world-power ; our navy was the protecting 
shield of our world-wide trade ; it was not the shield, 
but the values which it covered, at which the blow 
was aimed, in the not over-willingly waged war. 
The motive forces which urged towards war, towards 
final settlement, across the Channel were the same 
that had previously effected our economic isolation ; 
they grew out of England's struggle for existence with 
the vast development of German industry and German 
commerce. Her attempted strangling of these in 
pre-war years had failed ; the German expansion 
continued. Hence England gave up the endeavour 
to avoid war ; the final settlement must be faced. 
No one who knew the situation could doubt that Eng- 
land would make the utmost use of such an excellent 
opportunity as that provided by our treatment of the 
Austro-Serbian dispute. Only lack of political insight 
on the part of our statesmen could overlook all this 
and hope for the neutrality of England, as Bethmann 
Hollweg did. 

And when we were once involved in war with England 
and problems of attack were presented to our navy 
in place of the defensive tasks for which it had been 
created, it was a fatal blunder to keep it out of the 
fray, or to deny a free hand in its employment to Grand 
Admiral von Tirpitz, who knew the instrument forged 
by him as no one else could. The parties who, at that 
time, had to decide concerning the fate of the navy 
failed to win that immortality which lay within their 
reach. Although it lay within arm's length of both 
von Miiller and Admiral Pohl, neither of these men 
has succeeded in gaining immortality. Everybody 
clung to Bethmann's notion of carrying the fleet as 
safe and sound as possible through the war in order 


to use it as a factor in possible peace negotiations 
an idea that was scarcely more sensible than, say, the 
idea of carrying the army and its ammunition intact 
through the war with a like purpose. People philo- 
sophized over distant possibilities and missed the hour 
for acting ! 

Admiral von Tirpitz was a highly talented and strong- 
willed man looked up to by the entire navy. His 
sense of responsibility and his resoluteness personified, 
as it were, for them the fighting ideal of his weapon, 
and I am still convinced that he would have turned 
the full force of the fleet against England as rapidly 
as possible. Such an attack, carried out with fresh 
confidence in one's own strength and under the con- 
viction of victory, would not have failed. That such a 
view is not in the least fantastic and is shared by the 
enemy is evidenced by a passage in Admiral Jellicoe's 
book, in which he writes : 

" With my knowledge of the German navy, with 
my appreciation of its performances and with a view 
to the spirit of its officers and its men, it was for me 
a great surprise to see the first weeks and months of 
the war pass by without the German navy having 
conducted any enterprises in the Channel or against 
our coasts. The possibilities of an immediate employ- 
ment of the German forces succeeding I should not 
have underrated." 

But, as Goethe says, enthusiasm is not like herrings ; 
it cannot be pickled and kept for years ; and the 
spirit of attack, patriotic pride and discipline cannot 
be preserved or bottled. In our navy, so proud 
and powerful at the outbreak of the war, these 
qualities withered and decayed because that navy was 
not allowed to prove its strength, was not used at the 
right moment. 

Hence, the weapon which failed to strike when it 


ought to have struck finally turned against our Father- 
land and helped to bring about our defeat. 

I have perused the sheets written yesterday. These 
jottings of mine will not constitute a regular and well- 
arranged book of reminiscences reproducing events in 
their exact order of time. I had intended to write of 
my initiation into the affairs of the Admiralty 
and of my work with Admiral von Tirpitz, so profit- 
able to me ; and, in the ineradicable bitterness of 
my recollections, I sped into the events of later years. 

In mentioning the " risk theory " of Tirpitz, I touched 
upon our political isolation. On this subject there is 
perhaps much more to be said. 

When, soon after the completion of my labours at 
the Admiralty, I penetrated further and further into 
the problems of the foreign policy of the empire, I 
repeatedly found confirmation of the fact that, as I 
had observed during my travels, our country was not 
much loved anywhere and was indeed frequently hated. 
Apart from our allies on the Danube and possibly the 
Swedes, Spaniards, Turks and Argentines, no one 
really cared for us. Whence came this ? Undoubtedly, 
in the first place, from a certain jealousy of our immense 
economic progress, jealousy of the unceasing growth of 
the German merchant's influence on the world market, 
jealousy of the great diligence and of the creative intel- 
ligence and energy of the German people. England, 
above all, felt her peculiar economic position threatened 
by these circumstances. This was naturally no reason 
for us to feel any self-reproach, since every people 
has a perfect right, by healthy and honourable endeav- 
ours, to promote its own material well-being and to 
increase its economic sphere of influence. By fair 
competition between one nation and another, human- 
ity as a whole attains higher and higher stages of 
civilization. Only ignorant visionaries can imagine 


that progress in the life of the individual, of the peoples 
or of the world can be reckoned upon if competition 
be barred. 

But it was not alone jealousy of German efficiency 
that gained for us the aversion of the great majority ; 
we had managed by less worthy qualities to make 
ourselves disliked. It is imprudent and tactless for 
individuals or peoples to push themselves forward with 
excessive noisiness in their efforts to get on ; distrust, 
opposition, repulsion and enmity are thereby provoked. 
But this is the fault into which we Germans, both 
officially and individually, have lapsed only too often. 
The openly provocative and blustering deportment, the 
attitude adopted by many Germans abroad of con- 
tinually wishing to teach everybody and to act as 
mentors to the whole world, ruffled the nerves of 
other people. In conjunction with the stupidity and 
bad taste of a similar character proceeding from 
leading personages and public officials at home and 
readily heard and caught up abroad, this attitude did 
immense damage, more especially, again, in the case of 
England, who felt herself particularly menaced by 
modern Germany. 

In many a political chat, that was as good as a 
lesson to me, my great-uncle, King Edward VII with 
whom I always stood on a good footing and who 
was undoubtedly a remarkable personality endowed 
with vast experience, as well as great wisdom and 
practicality repeatedly expressed his anxiety lest the 
economic competition of Germany would some day 
lead to a collision with England. " There must be 
a stop put to it," he would say on such occasions. 

Facing all these facts squarely, and remembering 
that England's forces had always been employed 
against that Continental Power which at any given 
moment happened to be the strongest, I felt 


that, sooner or later, the German Empire would 
inevitably become involved in a war unless the oppo- 
sition between it and England were removed. 

Personally, I considered it desirable to strive for an 
understanding with England on economic, economico- 
political and colonial questions. I did not, however, 
entertain any illusions as to the difficulty of such an 
undertaking. I was quite aware that any such effort 
presupposed a thorough discussion both of the naval 
programme and of economic matters. The object 
appeared to me well worth the sacrifice, for the relaxa- 
tion of the political tension to be followed ultimately 
by an alliance with England would not merely have 
secured peace, but would have provided us with advan- 
tages amply compensating for the concessions indi- 
cated. Prince Billow, with whom I once talked about 
this delicate question, referred me to a saying of Prince 
Bismarck's, namely, that he was quite willing to love 
the English, but they refused to be loved. For an 
alliance with England, which, while not involving the 
sombre risk of war with Russia, would have been 
calculated to bind England really and seriously, he 
seemed at that time not at all disinclined. But as, 
according to him, Lord Salisbury, the British Prime 
Minister in the early years of the century, was not to 
be persuaded to such an alliance, he thought to do 
better, under the circumstances, by adopting a " policy 
of the free hand." Similar answers were given me 
by all the other leading statesmen of the realm to 
whom I opened up my ideas : an understanding with 
England, they said, was impossible ; England would 
not have it ; or, if a basis were found, we should lose 
by the whole affair. But their reasons failed to con- 
vince me. Why, a glance across the black, white and 
red frontier-poles showed that, all around us, political 
feats quite different from ours had been performed ; but 


they had been performed by men who understood their 
profession and the signs of the times. Nor do I con- 
sider that, in the years to which I refer here, England 
was ill-disposed or could not have been won over, even 
though matters were no longer handed to us on a 
silver salver as they had been at the beginning of the 
Boer War, when Joseph Chamberlain quite openly 
tried to bring about an alliance between Germany, 
England and the United States. Yet the possibility 
of starting again where we had then failed was anything 
but irretrievably lost. Nevertheless, I had to accept the 
fact that Prince Biilow and his politicians were not to 
be persuaded to a serious, well-grounded understanding 
with England ; they seemed thoroughly satisfied with 
the outwardly good and courteous relations, they con- 
sidered the situation well tested and satisfactory, and 
saw no reason to regard it as so acute or threatening. 
For the future, therefore, I endeavoured to think the 
matter over on the rigid lines laid down by the Wil- 
helmstrasse. Assuming it to be impossible to alter the 
antagonism with England or to bridge the rift started 
during the Boer War by the over-hasty Kriiger telegram 
(the responsibility for which, by the way, has been quite 
unjustifiably laid upon the Kaiser), the only possible 
and profitable ally left for us in Europe was Russia. If 
we had an alliance with Russia, England would never risk 
a war with us ; nay, she would have to be content so long 
as this alliance did not menace her Indian dominions. 
Consequently every effort should be made to re-knit the 
bond which, subsequent to Bismarck's retirement, had 
been broken by the denunciation of the re-insurance 
treaty; every thing ought to be done to loosen the Franco- 
Russian Alliance and to draw Russia into co-operation 
with ourselves. This, too, was no easy task ; but there 
was a prospect of succeeding, if we supported Russia's 
wishes in regard to the Dardanelles and the Persian Gulf. 


I talked at the time with Turkish politicians about 
the matter, and found them anything but unapproach- 
able in regard to the question of a free passage through 
the Dardanelles. Moreover, opposition to this solu- 
tion was scarcely to be feared from our allies Austria- 
Hungary. Here, therefore, I seemed to see a suitable 

From all these considerations France was excluded, 
since, after the weakening of Russia by the war in the 
Far East, we had missed the opportunity of coming to 
a complete understanding with the well-intentioned 
Rouvier Cabinet in the early summer of 1905. In the 
meantime, by skilful cultivation of the idea of revenge 
against Germany, even the bitterness towards England 
caused by the Fashoda affront had been dissipated. 
The conditio sine qua non for any agreement would be 
the sacrifice of at least a part of the Reichsland, a 
thing which we could not even discuss in times of peace. 

But, neither during Billow's chancellorship nor Herr 
von Bethmann's was any energetic action under- 
taken or well-defined programme adopted by the 
Government to bring about an understanding with 
England or to link up our policy with Russia. People 
clung to the hope of sailing round any possible rocks 
of war ; they wished to offend nobody and there- 
fore conducted a short-term hand-to-mouth policy which 
had no longer anything in common with the clever 
and wide-spun conceptions of the Bismarck tradition. 

As a consequence, very depressing misgivings often 
overcame me when I thought what notions our leading 
statesmen entertained concerning our political position. 
That they misconstrued the seriousness of affairs I 
refused to believe, for the fact of our isolation was 
sufficient to prove even to the most inexperienced 
observer with any sound common sense that with our 
peace policy of " niemand zu Liebe and niemand zu 


Leide " (without consideration of persons) we were in 
danger, between two stools, of coming to the ground. 
Hence I was forced merely to look on at the incompre- 
hensible calm with which our political leaders guided 
the realm through those times, while our opponents' 
ring closed tighter and tighter. 

The game was an unequal one ! 

It was unequal in the personages that faced each other 
as exponents of the two sets of effective forces. On 
this side was His Majesty, who, down to the crisis of 
November, 1908, ruled with great self-confidence and 
a perhaps too assiduously manifested desire for power ; 
beside him, and severely handicapped by all the various 
moods and political sympathies and antipathies of the 
Kaiser, stood Prince Biilow, whose place was taken 
the following summer by Theobald von Bethmann. 

On the other side was King Edward VII, and beside 
him and after him half a dozen strong, clear-headed 
men who, misled by no sentiment, worked along the 
lines of a firmly-established tradition to accomplish 
the programme mapped out for England and England's 

I repeat it : the game was unequal. 

I do not underestimate the great talents which, in 
the most difficult circumstances, enabled Prince Biilow, 
time and again, to bridge over rifts, to effect compro- 
mises and adjustments, and to disguise fissures. But 
he was not a great architect ; he was not a man of 
Bismarck's mighty mould ; he was not a Faust with 
eyes fixed on the heights and the far horizon ; no, he was 
none of these, but he was a brilliant master of little 
remedies with which a man may save himself from an 
evil to-day for a possibly more bearable one to-morrow ; 
he was a serious politician who had thoroughly learned 
his craft and exercised it with graceful ease; firm 
in the possession of this, he was therefore no charlatan ; 


he was a reader of character, too, who knew how to 
deal with his men a personality. 

Of all post-Bismarckian chancellors, Prince Billow 
strikes me as far and away the most noteworthy ; 
indeed, I would place him well beyond the limitations of 
this very relative compliment, which really does not say 
much. He understood perfectly how to defend his 
policy in the Reichstag ; and his speeches, with 
their genuine national feeling, scarcely ever missed 
their mark. Moreover, he could negotiate, he showed 
skill and tact in personal intercourse with parliamen- 
tarians, foreigners and pressmen ; and, like no one 
else since the first chancellor, he gave a due place in 
his calculations to the value of the Press and of public 
opinion. I look back with pleasure to my conversa- 
tions with him. What a sprightly, supple intellect ! 
What sound sense ! What excellent judgment of men 
and of problems. 

He was also, I consider, the best man at our disposal 
in the summer of 1917 ; and I greatly regretted, at that 
time, his not being called to the chief post after Beth- 
mann's exit. His peculiar character would assuredly 
have understood how to bring about fruitful co-opera- 
tion between the Government and the Higher Com- 
mand ; I believe, too, that this adroit diplomatist would 
have succeeded in finding a way out of the difficulties 
of the world-war, and that he would have effected 
a peace that would have been tolerable for our country. 

On each of the two occasions when a fresh chancellor 
was to be appointed, I advised His Majesty to choose 
either him or Tirpitz unfortunately, without success 1 
The reappointment of Billow as chancellor would not 
have been prevented by the aversion which the Kaiser 
had conceived for him during the events of Novem- 
ber, 1908, if the proper influential parties had assidu- 
ously supported his selection. I was able to ascertain 


that, on both occasions, the necessary precautions 
had been taken to ensure Billow's being passed over 
by the Kaiser. 

Yonder stood the King. 

I am aware that there is a tendency (not by any 
means confined to the general public) to impute to 
King Edward a personal hatred of Germany a 
diabolical relish for destruction which found expression 
in making a noose for the strangling of our 
country. To my mind such a presentation of his 
character is totally lacking in reality. Among 
others, my father has never viewed King Edward 
without all sorts of prejudices, and has consequently 
never formed a just estimate of him. That trait which 
was so often to be observed in the Kaiser, of readily 
attributing his positive failures to the activities of indi- 
viduals and of regarding them as the result of machina- 
tions directed against him personally, may here play 
some part. But there was doubtless always, as a 
matter of fact, what I might call a latent and mutual 
disapproval present in the minds of these two men, 
notwithstanding all their outward cordiality. The 
Kaiser may have felt that his somewhat loud and 
theatrical rather than genuine manner often struck 
idly upon the ear of King Edward, with his experience 
of the world and his sense of realities, that it encountered 
scepticism, was perhaps even sometimes received with 
ironic silence, that it met with a sort of quiet obstruc- 
tion too smoothly polished to present any point of 
attack, yet easily tempting the Kaiser to exaggerate 
his manner. 

As I knew King Edward from my earliest youth 
and had ample opportunity of talking with him on 
past and present affairs almost up to his death, my 
own conception of his character is a totally different 
one. I see in him the serene, world-experienced 


man and the most successful monarch in Europe 
for many a long day. Personally, he was, as long as I 
can remember, extremely friendly to me, and, as I 
have said before, he took a most active interest in my 
development. In the year 1901, just after the pass- 
ing of the Queen, he invested me with the Order of 
the Garter ; the ceremony took place at Osborne, 
and King Edward addressed to me an exceedingly 
warm-hearted and kinsmanlike speech ; I was then 
on the threshold of my twentieth year, and my great- 
uncle seemed, from what he said, to feel a sort of 
responsibility for my welfare. His sense of family 
ties was altogether strongly marked ; to see him 
in the circle of his Danish relatives at Copenhagen 
filled the beholder with delight ; there he was simply 
the good uncle and the amiable man. 

Often have we sat talking for hours in the most 
unconstrained fashion while he lay back in a great 
easy chair and smoked an enormous cigar. At such 
times, he narrated many interesting things, some- 
times out of his own life. And it is from what he 
imparted to me and from what I saw with my own 
eyes that I have formed my picture of him a picture 
that contains not a single touch of intrigue or 
trickery, a picture that reveals him as a brilliant 
upholder of his country's interests, and one who, I 
am convinced, would rather have secured those 
interests in co-operation with Germany than in oppo- 
sition to her, but who, finding the former way barred, 
turned with all his energies to the one thing possible 
and needful, namely, the assurance of that security 
per se. 

Owing to the great length of his mother's reign, 
Edward VII did not come to the throne till he was a 
man of very ripe age. As Prince of Wales he had 
enjoyed to the full his excessively long period of pro- 


bation. On leaving his parental home with an excellent 
training and education, he rushed into life with an 
ardent thirst for pleasure and sport. In this way he 
passed through all circles and all strata of society 
good, bad and indifferent and nothing human 
remained alien to him. Just as an old mariner now 
at peace on shore talks of the voyages weathered 
in years gone by, so did King Edward speak to me of 
those experiences of his which had drawn from the 
public harsh and adverse judgments. Yet, for him 
and for his country, those restless years became 
fruitful. His clear, cool and judicial insight, and 
his practical common sense brought him an unerring 
knowledge of mankind and taught him the difficult 
art of dealing properly with differing types of humanity. 
I have scarcely ever met with any other person who 
understood as he did how to charm the people with 
whom he came into contact. And yet he had no 
vanity, he showed no desire to make any impression 
by his urbanity or his conversation. On the contrary, 
he almost faded into the background ; the other 
person seemed to become more important than him- 
self. Thus he could listen, interject a question, be 
talked to and arouse in each individual the feeling 
that he, the king, took a most kindly interest in his 
thoughts and actions that he was fascinated and 
stimulated by him. In this way he gained the friend- 
ship and attachment of a great number of people 
above all of those who were of value to him. 

In his own country, his taste for sport secured him 
an enviable position. He owned a superb racing stud, 
devoted himself with great enthusiasm to yachting, 
and was perhaps the best shot in England. In his 
outward appearance and bearing he was the grand 
seigneur and finished man of the world. 

It is thus that I see the King, and the qualities that 


served him in carrying out his policy. An excellent 
reader of character and a cool tactician, he gained 
permanent successes wherever he interposed his per- 
sonality. It was his influence that drew France into 
the entente cordiale with England in spite of Fashoda ; 
and it was he, personally, who attracted the Tsar 
further and further away from Germany and won him 
for England, notwithstanding the great commercial 
rivalries of the Far East and in Persia. 

And all this to what end ? To destroy Germany ? 
Certainly not ! But he and his country had recognized 
that, for some years, the curve of Germany's commercial, 
economico-political and industrial progress had been 
such that England was in danger of being outstripped. 
Here he had to step in. As an agreement could not be 
effected, commercial isolation became his instrument 
for curtailing our development. War with Germany 
the King, I believe, never wanted. I believe, too, 
that not only would he have been able to prevent the 
outbreak of war, but that he would in fact have pre- 
vented it. I believe so, because his statesmanlike 
foresight would have recognized both the revolutionary 
dangers and the risk run by the Great Powers of Europe 
of losing authority and influence in world-competition 
if armed as never before they tore and lacerated 
each other by war among themselves. I will go fur- 
ther, and assert that, with the acknowledged status 
enjoyed by him in Europe and in the world at large, 
King Edward, if he had lived longer, would probably 
not have stopped at the creation of a Triple Entente 
but would perhaps have built a bridge between the 
Entente and the Triple Alliance and thus have brought 
into being the United States of Europe. He, but only 
he, could have done it. 

Those who came after him have placed the outcome 
of his labours at the service of Russia and France ; 


and therewith began the war, long, long before the 
sword itself was unsheathed. 

In the face of all this and in sure and certain anticipa- 
tion of this final settlement, it became the bounden duty 
of the German Empire to arm itself as thoroughly as 
possible and to demand a similar fighting-power from 
Austria, which country, under the influence of the 
Archduke Francis Ferdinand and the men selected by 
him, had become politically very active. This was 
the least we could do to ensure some prospect of an 
honourable and tolerable settlement. And that there 
was danger in the air was proved not merely by the 
general aspect of the political skies ; the feverish and 
unconcealed warlike preparations of the Entente were 
clearly directed against us and showed that they meant 
to be ready and then to await the right watchword for 
a rupture. France exhausted her man-power and her 
finances in order to maintain a disproportionately 
large army ; Russia, in return for French money, 
placed hundreds of thousands of peasants in sombre 
earth-hued uniforms ; Italy turned greedy eyes on 
Turkish Tripoli and built fortress after fortress along the 
frontiers of her deeply-hated ally, Austria. England 
watched this activity and launched ship after ship. 

In spite of these huge dangers, our own preparations 
were limited to the minimum of what was essential ; and 
if proofs were required that we did not desire the war, it 
would suffice to point out that it did not find us pre- 
pared as we ought to have been. So far as my very 
circumscribed capacities and my feeble influence went 
in the years preceding the war, I persistently advocated, 
in view of the menacing situation, an augmentation 
of our military resources. 

Not much was done, however. The last Defence 
Bill of 1913 had to be forced down the throat of the 
Imperial Chancellor von Bethmann Hollweg. The re- 


equipment of the field artillery could not be carried 
out before the outbreak of war, with the result that 
the superior French field-guns gave us a great deal of 
trouble for a long time. 

I am speaking here of the Bethmann era, and yet I 
do not wish to pass from the period of Prince Billow's 
chancellorship without dwelling for a little on one of 
the most perturbing incidents in the life of the Kaiser, 
namely, the conflict of November, 1908. 

In the Reichstag sitting of the tenth of November 
ten years to the day before everything came to an end 
in the journey to Holland the storm began to howl 
and lasted throughout the following day. The causes 
are known. 

What were the real facts of the case ? 

In the year 1907, while staying with the retired 
General Stuart- Wortley at Highcliffe Castle in the Isle 
of Wight, my father had entered into a number of 
informal conversations in which, undeniably, several 
unguarded and therefore injudicious remarks and 
statements escaped him. With the help of the English 
journalist, Harold Spender, these remarks were after- 
wards worked up by Wortley into the form of an 
interview to be published in the Daily Telegraph. The 
manuscript was forwarded to the Kaiser with a re- 
quest that he would give his consent to its publication. 
In a perfectly loyal way, the Kaiser sent it on to the 
Imperial Chancellor and asked him for his opinion. 
The proceedings were consequently all absolutely cor- 
rect ; and nothing improper had occurred, unless the 
remarks themselves are to be characterized as such ; 
and even then, one must give the Kaiser credit for 
having made them with the object of improving Anglo- 
German relations, just as General Stuart- Wortley, with 


the same intention, conceived the idea of making them 
known to a wider public. 

The manuscript was returned to the Kaiser with the 
remark that there was no objection to its being pub- 
lished only, unfortunately, through negligence and 
a number of unfortunate coincidences, none of the 
gentlemen who were responsible for this judgment had 
actually read the text with any care. And so the 
mischief began. 

For two days the Reichstag raged at the absent 
Kaiser ; two groups of representatives of almost every 
party poured out their pent-up floods of indignation ; 
all the dissatisfaction with his methods and his rule 
that had been accumulating for two decades now burst 
forth in an unchecked torrent. And yet the man who 
was called upon by my father's trust to stand by his 
Imperial master, to cover and to defend him, that man 
failed, that man shrugged his shoulders and shuffled off 
with a scarcely concealed gesture of resignation. 
Nerves, it may be said. Possibly. The only man who, 
on that occasion, chivalrously rushed into the breach in 
defence of his King was the old and splendidly faithful 
deputy von Oldenburg. Considering the general 
indignation that had arisen, the task before which 
Prince Biilow stood was indisputably very difficult ; 
but, on the other hand, it is perfectly comprehensible 
that the Kaiser who, in this case, had acted quite 
correctly, and now saw himself suddenly, and for the 
first time, face to face with the almost universal 
opposition of the nation was rudely torn out of his 
security and unsuspecting confidence and felt that he 
was deserted and abandoned by the Chancellor. 

Meantime, the Press storm continued and produced 
day after day a dozen or two of accusing and disap- 
proving articles. 

My father had returned. Prostrated by these exciting 


and violent events and still more by the lack of under- 
standing he had met with, he lay ill at Potsdam. The 
incomprehensible had happened : after twenty years, 
during which he had imagined himself to be the idol 
of the majority of his people and had supposed his 
rule to be exemplary, disapproval of him and of his 
character had been quite unmistakably pronounced. 

It was under these circumstances that I was urgently 
called to the New Palace. At the door, my mother's 
old chamberlain awaited me to say that Her Majesty 
wanted to see me before I went to the Kaiser. 

I rushed upstairs. My mother received me imme- 
diately. She was agitated, and her eyes were red. 
She kissed me and held my head before her in both 
hands. Then she said : 

' You know, my boy, what you are here for ? ' 

" No, mother." 

' Then go to your father. But sound your heart 
well before you decide." 

Then I knew what was coming. 

A few minutes later I stood beside my father's 

I was shocked at his appearance. Only once again 
have I seen him thus. It was ten years later, on the 
fatal date at Spa, when General Groner struck away 
his last foothold and, with a shrug, coldly destroyed 
his belief in the fidelity of the army. 

He seemed aged by years ; he had lost hope, and felt 
himself to be deserted by everybody ; he was broken 
down by the catastrophe which had snatched the 
ground from beneath his feet ; his self-confidence and 
his trust were shattered. 

A deep pity was in me. Scarcely ever have I felt 
myself so near him as in that hour. 

He told me to sit down. He talked vehemently, 
complainingly and hurriedly of the incidents ; and the 


bitterness aroused by the injustice which he saw in 
them kept reasserting itself. 

I tried to soothe and encourage him. 

I stayed with him for quite an hour sitting on his 
bed, a thing which, so long as I can remember, had 
never happened before. 

In the end, it was arranged that, for a short time, 
and till he had completely recovered from his illness, 
I should act as a kind of locum tenens for the Kaiser. 

In exercising this office, I kept entirely in the back- 
ground, and was soon released from the duties alto- 
gether, since, in a few weeks, the Kaiser was seemingly 
himself again. 

Seemingly ! For, as I have already said, he has 
never really recovered from the blow. Under the cloak 
of his old self-confidence, he assumed an ever-increasing 
reserve, which, though hidden from the outside world, 
was often more restricted than the limits of his consti- 
tutional position. In the war, this personal modesty 
led to his being almost completely excluded from the 
military and organizing measures and commands of the 
Chief of his General Staff. Those of us officers who 
had an insight into the business of the leading military 
posts could not but regret this fact, as we had un- 
reservedly admired the sound judgment and the keen 
military perception of the Kaiser even in operations 
on a grand scale. During the war, I had frequent 
occasion to discuss the entire strategic situation with 
my father, and I generally received the impression that 
he hit the nail on the head. 

July, 1919. 

Bright midsummer days are now passing over the 
island in which I have lived for some three-quarters of 
a year. 


Three-quarters of a year in which the closely circum- 
scribed space and its inhabitants have become dear to 
me, in which the vast silence and the sky and the sea, 
the privacy and the seclusion have brought me much 
that I had never before possessed change and ripen- 
ing in my own nature, changes in my views and judg- 
ments on the things that lie behind, around and before 
me. It is not inactive reverie with me, for each day 
is filled up from morning till night with letter-writing, 
with my reminiscences, diaries, reading, music, sketch- 
ing and sport. 

I am not unhappy in my loneliness, and I almost 
believe that to be due to all the unstifled desire to pro- 
duce which is still pent up within me and makes 
me hope in spite of everything makes me hope 
that the future will somehow open up the possibility 
of my working as a German for the German Father- 

Anxieties as to the pending request of the Entente for 
my extradition ? That is a question constantly repeated 
in the letters sent by good people at home and I can 
only repeat as often : No, that really will not turn my 
hair grey. 

I have a longing for home, for my wife, for my 
children. Often it comes over me suddenly, comes 
through some accidental word, through a recollection, 
a picture. The other day, as I had just got out my 
violin and was about to play, I couldn't bring myself 
to do so, so strongly had this yearning taken possession 
of me. 

And then at night ! The windows are wide open, 
and one can hear the distant plash of the sea and often 
the deep lowing and bellowing of the cattle in the 
pastures. Heinrich Heine says somewhere : " Denk'ich 
an Deutschland in der Nacht, bin ich um meinen 
Schlaf gebracht." 


In the June days just gone by, came the news that 
the Versailles " Diktat "had been signed. The Peace 
Treaty ! The word will scarcely flow from my pen, in 
consideration of this rod of chastisement, this birch that 
blind revenge has bound for us there, in consideration 
of this closely- woven network of chains into which our 
poor fatherland has been cast. Preposterous demands, 
that even with the very best intentions no one can 
fulfil ! Brutal threats of strangling in the event of 
any failure of strength ! Withal, unexampled stupidity 
a document that perpetuates hatred and bitterness, 
where only emancipation from the pressure of the past 
years and new faith in one another could unite the 
peoples into a fresh and peacefully reconstructive 

There remains only trust in the oft-tried energy and 
capacity of the German himself, who, time after time 
when gruesome fate has led him through darkness and 
the depths, has found the way up to the light again ; 
and there remains, too, the great truth of universal 
history, that folly in the long run wrecks itself. 

Poverty-stricken, Germany and the German people 
go to meet the future. The wicked treaty, that rests 
upon the question of war-guilt as upon a huge lie, has 
torn from them colonies, provinces and ships. Work- 
shops are destroyed, intellectual achievements stolen, 
competition in wide spheres of activity violently 
throttled. The treaty prepares for Germany the 
bitterest humiliation ; it purposes to strangle and 
destroy her in unappeased hate and unabated terror. 

But, in spite of it all, Germany will persist and will 
flourish once more ; and a time will come when this 
enforced pact will be talked of only as an infamy of a 
bygone day. 

I wish the homeland tranquillity and internal peace 
in which to get back to its wonted self, in which this 


earthly kingdom exhausted by unheard-of sacrifices 
and damaged by the blows of fate may recover its 
strength. And I should like to share in its new era ! 
Yet, the only service I can render to my country is to 
stand aside and continue to bear this exile. 

The short space of time during which I was entrusted 
with the task of acting as the Kaiser's representative 
gave me a deeper insight than at any previous period of 
my life into the mechanism of his work as head of 
the government, into the manner in which he was 
kept informed by the various officials and into the 
disposal of his time. Although, from years of 
cursory observation, I was fairly familiar with the 
outlines of this mechanism, I clearly remember that 
the closer acquaintance I now made with its frame- 
work filled me with the greatest amazement. That 
I speak of it here with unreserved candour is evidence 
that I do not regard my father as ultimately and 
solely responsible for the existing state of affairs. 
If you remove the mask of monarchy, the Kaiser 
is, by nature, simple in his character ; and if he 
allowed these evils to arise around him, his share 
in them was due partly to the out-of-date upbringing 
caused by an old-fashioned conception of the royal 
dignity, and even more to his innate harmony with 
the settled forms of his environment and his renuncia- 
tion of that simplicity and directness which would 
better have become his deepest nature. As a conse- 
quence, there developed, little by little, out of the zeal 
displayed by those around him for the pettiest affairs, 
a vast ceremoniousness that robbed the simplest pro- 
ceedings of their naturalness, that removed every little 
stone against which the monarch might have struck his 
foot, and that was fain to drown every whisper that 
might be disagreeable to his ear. In the course of 
decades, this system deprived the Kaiser more and 


more of his capacity to meet hard realities with a firm, 
resolute and tenacious perseverance. 

How can a man accustomed to expect as a matter 
of course the spreading of a carpet before his feet for 
every step he takes, sustain himself when he is sud- 
denly confronted with really serious conflicts in which 
nothing can help him but his own resolution ? 

Time seemed to be no object in ceremonial affairs ; 
and, while spent on them, it often could not be found 
for questions that demanded serious and calm con- 

Not only for me but for many a minister and state 
secretary, it was often quite a feat to break through 
the protective ring of zealous gentlemen who wished 
to prevent His Majesty being " worried " with 
troublesome affairs and to save him from over-fatigue 
and annoyance. Even when the ring was penetrated, 
one had not, by any means, gained one's point ; I 
remember many a case in which one Excellency 
or another who had come to report to the Kaiser on 
some burning question went away with an admir- 
able impression of the animation, the vigour and the 
communicativeness of His Majesty, and possibly with 
enriched knowledge concerning some department of 
research or technology, but without having unburdened 
himself on the burning question with which he came. 
Anyone who failed to proceed, more or less unceremon- 
iously, with his report might well find himself listening 
instead to a report of the Kaiser's on the subject in hand 
based upon preconceived notions ; the would-be adviser 
would then be dismissed without ever having found 
an opportunity of stating his own views. 

I have already hinted that the Imperial Chancellory 
prepared for the Kaiser a filtered version of public 
opinion in the form of press-cuttings. The preparation 
of this material appeared to me to be too much inspired 


with the desire to exclude the disagreeable and even 
the minatory to be pleasant rather than thorough. 
Many things, therefore, that ought to have come under 
the Kaiser's eyes, even if they were not exactly gratify- 
ing, were never seen by him. In much the same plane 
lay the consular reports. They were often nothing 
more than amusing chats and serial stories. When these 
" political reports " passed through my hands in 1908, 
I missed any clear judgment of the situation, any clear, 
sharply-defined presentation or positive suggestion. 

A favourable exception among the communications 
sent in by our representatives abroad was to be found 
in the reports of the naval officers in command. 
They were evidently drawn up by men whose eyes 
had been trained to look broadly at the world, to see 
things as they really are and to form a just estimate 
of the whole ; they were filled with calm and practical 
criticism, and furnished cautious and far-seeing sug- 

August, 1919. 

The last few days have brought me again one or two 
welcome visitors from the homeland above all, excel- 
lent Major Beck, to whom I am attached by so many 
hard experiences shared in the army. Hours and hours 
were spent in taking long walks and sitting together 
sometimes talking, sometimes silent. And during those 
hours, the prodigious struggle of the past came vividly 
before me again especially the last anguish that fol- 
lowed our failure at Rheims, the unceasing decay of 
energy and confidence, and then the end. 

A few Dutch families have also been to see me ; and 
Ilsemann came over from Amerongen, and had much 
to tell me about my dear mother ; she suffers severely, 
is physically ill, and will not give way, knows only 
one thought, namely, the welfare of my father and of 


us all, has only one wish, which is to lighten for us 
what we have to bear. 

But the best visit is still to come. My wife and the 
children are to spend a short time with me here in the 
island. How we shall manage with such limited room 
and such a lack of every accommodation I don't know 
myself but we shall do it somehow. It was touching 
to see the ready proffers of help that were made on the 
mere report of my expecting my wife and children. 
Not merely in the island where every one now likes 
me and where the Frisian reserve has long given place 
to hearty participation in my joys and sorrows but 
from yonder on the mainland also. 

In a day or two Miildner, my untiring and faithful 
companion in this solitude, is to go to Amsterdam for 
some shopping and other errands. In one of the rooms, 
the wall-paper is to be renewed ; all sorts of house- 
hold utensils need replenishing ; and Amsterdam 
friends are going to lend me furniture. The parsonage 
is to become more respectable ; in its present condition, 
it would really be quite impossible for it to lodge a 
lady. These excellent people of mine are working 

But to get back to my subject. I stopped at my 
recollections of our foreign policy in the years prior to 
the war. Closely connected with it were our home 
politics. Here, too, we suffered from the same lack of 
resolution, firmness and foresight. People fixed their 
eyes upon the things of to-day instead of on those of 
to-morrow. Hence only half-measures were taken, 
and everybody was dissatisfied. 

Ever since I began to concern myself with politics 
I have become more and more convinced that our home 
policy should develop along more liberal lines. It was 


clear to me that one could no longer govern on the 
principles of Frederick the Great still less by out- 
wardly imitating his manner. Just as little could I 
sympathize with the continually yielding and generally 
belated manner in which our liberal reforms were 
carried out. The almost systematic method of first 
refusing altogether and then finding oneself obliged to 
grant a part of what was demanded appeared to me 
doubtful and dangerous. A foresighted and well- 
timed liberal policy ought to have been able to reject 
inordinate demands from whatever quarter they came, 
and thus to maintain a just balance of forces for the 
welfare of the whole. Such government would also 
have been able to reckon with a certain constancy of 
parliamentary grouping. But after the collapse of the 
Billow bloc which certainly, in itself, presented no 
very great attractions the only policy we had was 
Bethmann's " governing over the heads of the parties " 
with its convulsive beating-up of majorities for each 
case as it arose and its silencing of the minorities. 

In so far as they could be fitted into the historically 
determined development of the State, the political 
and economic aims of the social democratic party, as 
representing a large section of organized labour, 
ought to have been taken into consideration unequi- 
vocally and without any misconstruction or suppression 
of what was possible ; though the Government had no 
reason and no right to allow themselves to be pushed 
or driven on every question. 

In its ideological endeavours to entice the social 
democrats away from their policy of negation into the 
sphere of productive co-operation, and in its miscon- 
ception of the fact that, for purely tactical reasons, the 
social democrats of that period would not give up their 
policy of opposition within the then existing consti- 
tution, Bethmann's Government allowed itself to be 


exploited and weakened by the extraordinarily well 
managed and well disciplined social democratic party. 
To the other parties little attention was paid. More- 
over, the fact was altogether overlooked that, in their 
humane and progressive spirit, social legislation and 
the care for workmen in Germany were already a very 
long way ahead of all measures of the kind in other 
countries and that this great work had been ardently 
promoted by the Kaiser. As in its attitude towards the 
opposition, so upon the questions of Poland and Alsace- 
Lorraine, the policv'of the Government was uncertain 
and almost invariably harsh where it ought to have 
been yielding an^l yielding where it ought to have been 
firm. Absolutely nothing was done in the way of 
economic mobilization to meet the eventuality of war, 
although there could be no doubt that, if an ultima 
ratio ensued, England would at once endeavour to cut 
us off from every oversea communication and that, in 
respect to food-stuffs and raw materials of every kind, 
we should be thrown on our own stocks and resources. 

As in all problems of foreign policy, so again in this 
question, the only man in the Government who showed 
any understanding for my fears and anxieties was 
Admiral von Tirpitz. 

In the eight years' chancellorship of Herr von Beth- 
mann Hollweg, I over and over again took the oppor- 
tunity of talking to him about the attitude of the 
Government towards foreign and home affairs. Here, 
in one and the same sentence in which I write that I 
always found him to be high-principled in thought and 
action and a man of irreproachable honour, I wish to 
say that we were not friends and that an impassable 
chasm lay between his mentality and my own. In the 
post for which we ought to have sought for the best, the 
boldest, the most far-sighted and the wisest of states- 
men, there stood a bureaucrat of sluggish and irresolute 


k Row (left to 
Ight) Wilhelm, 
,ouis Ferdinand, 
rown Princess 

/ Rou Friedrich 
i 1 h e 1 in , the 

own Prince with 

ene Alexandra, 


Back Ron' Prince Joachim of 
Prussia, Duchess of Bruns- 
wick, Duke of Brunswick. 

Second Row Prince Oscar of 
Prussia, Princess August 
Wilhelm of Prussia, the 
Crown Prince, Prince Eitel 

Front Rou Princess Eitel 
Friedrich, the Crown Prin- 
cess, Prince Adalbert, and 
Prince August Wilhelm of 


character, his mind in a reverie of weary and resigned 
cosmopolitanism and tranquil acceptance of unalterable 
developments. People liked to call him the " Philoso- 
pher of Hohensinow." I never succeeded in discover- 
ing a trace of philosophic wisdom in the languid nature 
of this man, who dropped so easily into tactless fatalism 
and who qualified even every upward flight with the 
parrot cry of " divinely ordained dependency." His 
hesitating heart had no wings, his will was joyless, his 
resolve was lame. 

This man, eternally vacillating in his decisions and 
overborne by any contact with natures of a fresher hue, 
was certainly not the proper person, in the years 
prior to the war least of all in the three that immedi- 
ately preceded its outbreak to represent German 
policy against the energetic, resolute, quick-witted and 
inexorable men whom England and France had selected 
as exponents of their power. 

Even in the days when I was attached to the various 
ministries for purposes of study, many people of excel- 
lent judgment told me that it was easy to discuss 
questions with Bethmann, but the disappointing thing 
about it was that one never reached any conclusive 
result ; for, whatever the seemingly final outcome might 
be, he had after musing for a while, one more sentence 
to utter, and that sentence began with the word 
" nevertheless." This word " nevertheless " stands 
for me like a motto above Herr Bethmann Hollweg's 
political career. 

On one single occasion I allowed myself to be swept 
into a marked demonstration against him before the 
whole world, and I readily admit that this public 
utterance of my opinion would have been better left 
unspoken. It will be remembered that, in the 
Reichstag sitting of November 9, 1911, I gave clear 
expression to my approval of the speeches hurled against 


Herr von Bethmann's and Kiderlen-Wachter's policy in 
the Morocco affair, at first aggressive and afterwards re- 
tracting, which had brought us a severe diplomatic check. 
At the time, the Press of the Left hastened to stigmatize 
me as a battering-ram of extravagant and bellicose 
pan-German ideas. Nothing of the kind ! The case 
was quite different ! The drastic methods of Kiderlen, 
the wanton provocation implied by the dispatch of 
the Panther to Agadir, was just as disagreeable to me 
as the hasty retreat which followed Lloyd George's 
threats in his Mansion House speech : both bore testi- 
mony to the groping uncertainty of our leadership, a 
leadership which failed to see what an unhappy effect 
was produced on the minds of the other side in the 
dispute by the first step, and how much the second 
impaired our prestige in the eyes of the world. Thus, 
it was from the feeling that political tension had 
risen to fever heat that, on that Qth November, 1911, 
I spontaneously applauded those speeches which were 
directed against the feeble and oscillating policy 
of the Government. 

What a curious part coincidence plays in our affairs ! 
Once again the gth November stands marked in the 
book of my remembrances three years after the great 
Reichstag storm over the Kaiser interview in the 
Daily Telegraph, and seven years to the day before 
the last act of the collapse in Berlin and Spa ! A 
discussion of the incident speedily followed. On the 
same evening, as a matter of fact. 

To begin with, the Kaiser admonished me. Very well. 

Then I gave vent to my thoughts and feelings ; and 
I blurted out all my fears for the future, my wishes for 
the suppression of a shilly-shally policy. I spoke with- 
out the slightest reserve ; and once more I was forced 
to take note of the fact that the Kaiser was incapable 
of listening. 


In the end we dined together in a not particularly 
talkative mood. 

Then, at His Majesty's request and in his presence, 
Bethmann, who, withal, was once again highly interest- 
ing and to the point, gave me, the " Frondeur," along 
lecture which did not succeed in convincing me. 

Politics, even high politics, are not an occult science. 
The times are dead and gone in which they could be 
conducted with Metternich-like ruses. They can nowa- 
days dispense with apercus of speech and with the 
jabot of the Congress of Vienna just as well as with the 
monocle of a later epoch of development. But they 
presuppose, besides all the things that are obvious and 
the things that can be learned, a few such things as 
practical common sense to reduce all their problems to 
the simplest formulae, knowledge of human character, 
and an eye for the general mentality of the peoples 
with whom one has to reckon. 

Herr von Bethmann Hollweg who, by the way, knew 
scarcely anything of foreign countries possessed none 
of these things ; and neither Kiderlen-Wachter nor 
Secretary of State Jagow was the man to fill the gap 
with his intellectual talents. 

True, there were, in our diplomatic service, men of 
quite another category, who thought broadly and saw 
clearly ; but people were content to know that they filled 
posts abroad where their voices could be heard, but 
where their influence upon the conduct of foreign politics 
was bound to remain very slight. I have not the least 
doubt that such men as Wangenheim and Marschall 
even Mont and Metternich would have understood 
how to give a timely turn to our foreign policy so as 
to guide it into the proper and the constant way. 

Just this very Herr von Kiderlen used to be praised 
by Bethmann as the great political light from the East. 
Personally, too, I myself liked this agreeably unaffected 


and courageous Swabian, despite his panther-like leap 
into the china-shop of Agadir. But I was not impressed 
with his special suitability for the highly important post 
of Foreign Secretary, the more so as he entirely lacked 
the most important quality for such a position, namely 
the capacity to see things from other people's points of 
view. He not only utterly failed to consider the men- 
tality of France and England, but he did not even 
appreciate the political tendencies of Roumania, the 
country in which, for ten years, he had had charge of 
Germany's interests. 

That sounds almost like a bad joke, and it is, after 
all, only an example of what a poor reader of character 
the Chancellor himself was and how limited was the 
horizon of his staff at the Foreign Office. 

But it is incumbent upon me to furnish evidence for 
my views as to Herr von Kiderlen's knowledge of Rou- 
mania. On returning from my Roumanian travels in 
April, 1909, I told my father I had received the impres- 
sion that there was only one person in Roumania who 
was friendly to us, namely King Carol himself. The 
leading political circles, who were only waiting for the 
decease of the aged King, were thoroughly and firmly 
under French and Russian influence. The sympathies of 
the Crown Princess were directed towards England, and 
the Crown Prince was very much under her influence. 
Consequently, I could not help thinking that, in the 
event of war, Roumania would fail her allies, even 
if she did not go over to the other party altogether. 
His Majesty sent me to the Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs in Wilhelmstrasse to report my impressions. 
Herr von Kiderlen-Wachter listened with complaisant 
superiority, and smiled. He thought I must be mis- 
taken ; believed I must have had a bad dream ; the 
whole of Roumania, with which he was as familiar as 
with his, own hat (" wie sei' Weste' tasch") was, to the 


backbone, our sterling ally. " Sozusage' mundel- 
sicher ! " Soon afterwards, we had to face the trend 
of events that followed upon King Carol's death. 

But, after all, what is the false estimate of Roumania 
in comparison with the erroneous conception formed 
by Herr von Bethmann Hollweg and his Excellency 
von Jagow concerning the attitude of England ? They 
remained hoodwinked in the matter until, in August, 
1914, Sir Edward Goschen tore the bandage from the 
Chancellor's dismayed and horror-struck eyes. 

Because be it said to his credit he had repeatedly 
made mild and inadequate attempts at a rapprochement 
with England without encountering any fundamental 
opposition, and because he knew that England had 
repeatedly stated in Paris that she desired to avoid a 
provocative policy and did not wish to participate in a 
war set on foot by France, Bethmann imagined that 
the rapprochement had thriven to such an extent as to 
preclude England's joining in war against us at all. 
But the last effort made in the year 1912 by inviting 
Lord Haldane, the Minister of War, to come to Berlin, 
had also been a failure. It had failed because, mean- 
time, the relations of England to France and thereby 
to Russia had become too intimate ; so that even the 
great sacrifice which Admiral von Tirpitz declared 
himself prepared to make in the question of the Navy 
Bill in exchange for a British neutrality clause was 
ineffective. England was determined to maintain her 
" two keels for one " standard under all circumstances. 
Sir Edward Grey declined to enter into any engagement 
on account of " existing friendship for other Powers " ; 
and thereupon matters became clear to anyone who 
had eyes to see. 

Nor did Haldane make any secret of England's atti- 
tude in the event of war with France and Russia ; as 
the Kaiser told me himself later, Haldane informed 


our ambassador, Prince Lichnowsky, in a visit concern- 
ing political questions, that under the suppositions 
stated and irrespective of which side might set the ball 
rolling, his Government could not agree to a defeat of 
France by us and a consequent domination of Germany 
on the Continent. They would intervene in favour of 
the Powers allied with England. 

One finds it difficult to understand that, in spite of 
this fact, the gentlemen at the Foreign Office and 
above all the Minister responsible for our foreign policy 
continued to live on calmly and self-complacently in 
their world of dreams during those perilous and menac- 
ing times. The ears of our politicians had caught up 
the voices from Paris in which they heard England's 
desire for peace and they allowed themselves to be 
misled by the alluring idea that England would main- 
tain peace in Europe in any circumstances ; they 
assumed that the serious, warning words spoken by 
Lord Haldane in London were intended solely to pre- 
vent a breach of peace on the part of Germany. 

I have again run off the track of my story ; it seems 
that I cannot even make a chronicle of the affairs. 
But I must try to take up the thread again. 

Down to the year 1909, I had visited, sometimes 
alone and sometimes in my father's suite, England, 
Holland, Italy, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and a few dis- 
tricts of Asia Minor. My stay in these countries had 
always been relatively short, but had sufficed to provide 
me with valuable opportunities of comparison and to 
convince me of the necessity for seeing more of the world. 

It was, therefore, a great satisfaction to my desire 
for further knowledge when, in 1909, my father con- 
sented to my undertaking an extensive tour in the Far 
East. My wife accompanied me as far as Ceylon and 


then went to Egypt ; while I proceeded to travel 
through India. The British Government had prepared 
for my journey in the most friendly way ; so that I 
really obtained a great deal of information. In every 
detail and everywhere I went, I met with the greatest 
hospitality. I recall with special pleasure Lord Har- 
dinge, Sir Harold Stuart, Sir John Hewett and Sir Roos 
Keppel. The Maharajah of Jaipur and the Nizam 
of Hyderabad also provided me with a splendid 

In India my love of hunting and sport was satisfied 
to my heart's content. The magnificence of Indian 
landscape and of Indian architecture opened up a new 
world to me. The profusion of experiences of all kinds 
offered to me I welcomed with all the susceptibility 
and power of enjoyment natural to my youth ; I 
wished to devote myself unrestrictedly to all that 
was great and novel, and I sometimes forgot, per- 
haps, that I had to fill a ceremonial role, that people 
expected to find in me the son of the German Emperor 
and the great-grandson of the Queen. 

Of all the impressions I received the greatest and 
most lasting was that made upon me by the organizing 
and administrative talent of the English. It struck 
me, too, as a noticeable peculiarity, that, in the various 
branches of administration, comparatively very young 
officials were employed, but that they were energetic 
and were invested with great independence and respon- 
sibility. Extensive and healthy decentralization pre- 
vailed generally. Everywhere I was impressed by the 
vast power of England, whose greatness the German 
people, before the war, frequently and grossly under- 
valued, intoxicated as they were with their own rapid 

But it became just as clear to me how enormous 
was the competition which Germany created for the 


British in the markets of the Far East. Thus, many 
an English merchant told me, in confidential talk, 
that it could not go on like this England could not 
and would not allow herself to be pushed to the wall 
by us. I myself, during the sea- voyage, noticed that 
we met about as many German merchant vessels as 
British ones. Moreover, the muttered curse, " Those 
damned Germans ! " occasionally reached my ear. 

Omens of a gathering storm ! 

When, later on, I talked of these observations to the 
responsible parties at home, the warning was treated 
very light-heartedly. That some English shopkeeper 
or another swore when we spoiled his business for him 
didn't matter in the least ; the man should give up 
his " week-end " and work as our people did, then 
he would have no need to swear. Besides, we really 
wanted to live in peace with those gentlemen. " And 
your Imperial Highness has seen for yourself how you 
were received there." Thus, there was not much to 
be done. I, for my part, knew that the " shopkeeper " 
was England herself, that no one over there was willing 
to sacrifice his week-end, and that my reception was 
an act of international courtesy and nothing more. 
The will to live at peace with others has significance 
only if one knows and adopts the means by which 
that peace may be realized. 

After my return and in pursuance of His Majesty's 
commands, I visited with my wife the courts of Rome, 
Vienna, St. Petersburg, and St. James's, the last on the 
occasion of the coronation. 

Everywhere we met with the most friendly personal 
reception ; but everywhere, too, appeared warning 
signs of the conflict and danger which were gathering 
ominously around Germany. 

The journey to England we performed on board the 
new and heavily armoured cruiser Von der Tann. 





This excellently-constructed vessel aroused the utmost 
excitement in England. During the great naval review 
in the Solent, it was interesting to observe the British 
naval officers and sailors devoting the greatest atten- 
tion to our Von der Tann. For the war vessels of 
other nations they displayed not the slightest interest. 
Their judgment was expressed in unbounded praise of 
the wonderful lines of the ship and of the practical 
distribution of her guns. 

During the coronation festivities in London, the 
reception accorded to me and my wife by all classes of 
the population was exceptionally cordial. The English 
Press also welcomed us warmly ; and during those days 
we noticed nothing of the hatred of Germany. But if 
an eloquent illustration were needed of how misleading 
it is to draw conclusions from the signs of sympathy 
shown towards princes and heirs-apparent, such an 
illustration is to be found in an experience of our own. 
It has remained as a signum vanitatis in my memory. 

As King George and Queen Mary at the close of the 
coronation ceremony left Westminster Abbey, spon- 
taneous cheers rose from the assembly. Immediately 
afterwards, the foreign princes moved down the gigantic 
church, and, as the Crown Princess and myself reached 
the middle of the nave, the same spontaneous cheers 
that had greeted the King and Queen were accorded 
to us. Afterwards I was told by English people that 
I might be " proud of myself " ; for never before in the 
history of England had a foreign princely couple received 
such an ovation in Westminster Abbey. Four years 
later we were at war ; four years later, the man whom 
they then cheered had become a " Hun." 

Here I should like to mention an incident in my 
London sojourn which casts a light on the ideas of a 
leading English statesman of that day. The Foreign 
Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, was introduced to me, 


and, in the course of the thoroughly animated conversa- 
tion which ensued, I made the incautious remark that, 
in my opinion and with a view to a certainty of peace, 
it would be far and away the wisest thing for Germany 
and England, the two greatest Teutonic nations the 
strongest land Power and the strongest sea Power 
to co-operate ; they could then, moreover (if it must 
be so), divide the world between them. Grey listened, 
nodded and said : ' Yes, true, but England does not 
wish to divide with anybody not even with Germany." 
In Vienna, the then heir-apparent, Francis Ferdin- 
and, spoke with me very earnestly and very anxiously 
about the dangerous Serbian propaganda ; he foresaw 
an early European conflict in these intrigues that 
Russia was fanning. I had, for a long time, been 
watching with discomfort the growing dependence of 
our Near East policy upon the ideas of the Vienna 
Ballplatz ; consequently, the remarks of the Archduke 
raised in my mind grave doubts concerning this shift- 
ing of our political focus from Berlin to Vienna ; these 
doubts continued to worry me from that day onwards, 
but the unreserved expression I gave to them, both in 
the Foreign Office and in the presence of individual 
representatives of our diplomatic service, was all in 
vain. The fears that Germany would some day become 
fatally dependent upon the superior diplomacy of 
Austria-Hungary, as expressed with such anxious pre- 
science by Prince Bismarck in his last memoirs, seemed 
to me to have long ago found their fulfilment. In the 
Vienna Belvedere, under the influence of the strangely 
suggestive words of this dangerously ambitious 
Archduke, who was prepared to act an anything but 
modest part and who was as clever as he was ruthless, 
the definite feeling came over me that, as a result of 
this too great dependence, we should sooner or later 
become involved in a conflict brought about for the 


purpose of promoting the ambitions of the Austro- 
Hungarian dynasty ; the Archduke was putting out 
feelers and developing ideas which should enable him 
to see what he might expect from me. Destiny took 
the game out of the hands of that undoubtedly remark- 
able man, and made of him the spark which was to 
kindle the great conflagration. But, after bringing 
him to a bloody end, it spared us none of the bitter 
effects of our dependence and subordination ; the 
results of the excessive Viennese demands upon Serbia 
involved us in the war against our will. On July 28, 
1914, when Serbia had accepted almost all the points 
of the Austrian ultimatum, my father annotated thus 
the telegram which brought the news of Serbia's sub- 
mission : "A brilh'ant performance within a limit of 
48 hours. That is more than one could expect. A 
great moral success for Vienna ; but with it disappears 
every reason for war, and the Austrian minister, Giesl, 
ought to have remained quietly in Belgrade. After 
that, I should never have given orders for mobilization." 
I quote this telegram and its marginal notes, because 
they prove irrefutably the peaceful desires of Germany 
and the Kaiser. They prove our goodwill, in spite 
of which our destiny bound to the policy of the Vienna 
Ballplatz to the extent of vassalage moved on its 
fated path. 

In Russia, where, as already stated, I sojourned with 
my wife after my Indian travels, I received the impres- 
sion that the Tsar was as friendly to Germany as ever, 
but that he was less able to put his friendliness into 
action. He was completely enmeshed by the Pan-Slav 
and anti-German party of the Grand Duke Nicholai 
Nicholaievitch and powerless to oppose that prince, 
who quite openly displayed his hatred for Germany. 



September, 1919. 

THE beautiful, happy days are passed which I was 
able to spend here with my dear wife and the 
boys, the days in which we all wanted to enjoy the brief 
pleasure like simple rustic holiday-makers, and in which 
I purposely tried to forget that my nearest and dearest 
were staying for only a short sojourn with a voluntary 

By nature and upbringing I am not sentimental, 
and I will not lose myself in sentimental emotions ; 
but I can honestly say that the island is more desolate 
than ever, now that I have to go my walks between the 
pastures, along the irrigation canals, up the shore and 
through the villages without my wife and without the 
boys. In their childish way, the little fellows found 
everything that was strange and new to them here 
incomparably delightful, thought it all a thousand times 
finer than the best that they had in our own Cicilienhof 
at Potsdam or at Ols. Everywhere I now miss those 
boys, miss the inquiring remarks of those youngest 
ones who really made their first acquaintance with 
their father here in the island, miss continually the 
kind, wise and understanding words of the wife who 
has so many sorrows and worries of her own to bear 
and who yet never loses courage. Over there, at 
Hippolytushof , we stowed the little fellows in the house 



of the ever-ready Burgomaster Peereboom for we 
had no room for them in my parsonage and there 
they were soon the friends and confidants of all the 
lads anywhere near their own age. In our Oosterland 
cottage, quarters were found only for my wife and her 
companion. Everything now seems empty, since it is 
no longer filled with her fun at the primitive glories 
and makeshifts of our " bachelor's household." 

On her way home she stayed at Amerongen. 

It is depressing to read what she writes about things 
there. Our dear mother suffering, and yet untiringly 
occupied with the Kaiser, with my brothers, my 
little sister and her grandchildren ; my father bitter 
and not yet able to release himself from the ever- 
revolving circle of brooding about the things that have 

It is a very different thing whether the will and 
vital courage of a man of thirty-six years are to with- 
stand the test of such a terrible strain of destiny, or 
whether a man of sixty is to see shattered before him 
his life's work that he had regarded as imperishable. 

In the last few days, my thoughts have re 
him over and over again. S? 

At the time that I was about to start on my 
tour, my military career had reached the point where 
I was to receive the command of a cavalry regiment. 
It was a matter of great moment to me ; and, con- 
sidering the political situation, I did not wish to be 
too far away from the centre of government, from those 
men who had to cook the broth in the serving out of 
which I was at the time so interested. 

In this matter of the army I could not approach the 
Kaiser directly. My appointed intermediary was the 
chef du cabinet militaire, General von Lyncker. I 


discussed the affair with him and asked for the Gardes 
du Corps. Herr von Lyncker, who treated my request 
quite impartially and without any prepossession, enter- 
tained great doubts ; he told me that His Majesty 
would almost certainly not consent ; rather than raise 
this " problem " again, they would prefer to drop my 
suggestion. From the trend of the conversation, more- 
over, it was observable that the inner circle of His 
Majesty's advisers and certain government offices did 
not passionately share my wish that I should remain 
near the centre of government. 

I therefore asked for the King's Uhlans in Hanover 
or the Breslau Life Cuirassiers ; and Herr von Lyncker 
said that this would not create any difficulty, and he 
would advise His Majesty accordingly. I was content ; 
after all, Hanover and Breslau did not lie quite beyond 
the world and one might keep fairly in touch with things 
from either place. 

Such was the situation, when I left for India. But 
at Peshawar I read in an English newspaper that His 
Majesty had appointed me to the command of his First 
Life Hussars at Langfuhr by Danzig. 

My prime feeling was one of disappointment, not 
only because my wishes had been once more totally 
pushed aside, but because it seemed to be a sort of 
principle to refuse the fulfilment of the wishes of us 
sons in military matters. Nor was this all. The 
remote position of Danzig and the bleak climate, which 
I feared especially on my wife's account, were not 
particularly alluring. Contrary to my expectations, 
everything turned out capitally, and, but for my 
worries about the general situation of affairs, the two 
years and a half spent in Danzig became the happiest 
time of my life. 

We lived in a small villa which scarcely afforded 
sufficient room for my already considerable family. 


But we made ourselves very comfortable and led a 
happy and peaceful life. 

It was for me an honour and a pleasure to be the 
commander of that fine old regiment. The officers 
were all young a companionable mixture of nobles and 
commoners. The serious and faithful character of my 
old regimental adjutant, Count Dohna, I recall with 
particular pleasure. Most of the officers were the sons 
of landed proprietors in East and West Prussia whose 
fathers and grandfathers had worn the Black Attila 
and the Death's Head of the Body Hussars. Similarly, 
the regiment recruited its non-commissioned officers 
and men almost exclusively from among the young 
countrymen of East Prussia, West Prussia, and 
Posen, tip-top soldiers who brought with them from 
their homes a love of horses and an understanding of 
how to look after them. Finally, the horses them- 
selves were excellent ; and we were the only white- 
horse regiment in the army. 

The love for riding which had been in me from 
childhood could now have full sway. In accordance 
with the convictions gained by experience, I limited 
riding-school drill to the minimum, and laid chief 
weight upon cross-country work and jumping, in which 
really first-class results were obtained. Great stress 
was laid upon foot-practice and firing, more perhaps 
than was then customary with many a hardened out- 
and-out cavalryman. The war showed that this train- 
ing is, even for cavalry, a thing that should not be in 
any way neglected. 

I did my best to maintain a love and liking for the 
service among my Hussars. I had a nice commodious 
casino installed for the use of the non-commissioned 
officers, as well as comfortable quarters for the men. 
The men who had been in the ranks for a year or more 
were lodged separately from the recruits to prevent 


possible difficulties. In the leisure hours there were 
plenty of outdoor games. Towards the end of my 
time, we had a well-trained football team in which 
the officers took part. 

It was during this period of my life that Deutschland 
in Waffen was published, a picture-book for young 
Germans. The preface which I wrote for it has been 
unjustly taken to indicate that I had ranged myself 
among the firebrands of war. Nothing was ever further 
from my thoughts ; nor can an impartial perusal of 
my paragraphs discover such a meaning in them. The 
preface was written in consequence of the increasing 
dangers that threatened us ; it was directed against 
sordid materialism and pointed out to the youth of 
Germany that it was their duty and honour to fight, if 
necessary, for their country. It was the admonition 
of a German and a soldier to the rising generation of 
Germans, whose young energies and whose patriotic 
spirit of self-sacrifice we could not dispense with in 
the hour of need. 

Since my demonstration against Bethmann Hollweg's 
Morocco policy, I was labelled as a war-inciter by 
every blind pacifist in Germany and by their friends 
abroad whenever I came before the public. So it was 
in the case of this little dissertation on our army : people 
sought in it evidence of the character unjustly ascribed 
to me. Similarly they imagined they had pinned me 
tight when, a short time afterwards, I came forward 
in another public affair, namely the Zabern incident, 
which obtained such unfortunate notoriety. 

Our policy in the Reichslanden (Alsace-Lorraine) 
had for years caused me great anxiety. My visits to 
these provinces, as well as the reports of many of my 
comrades in the garrisons of the west frontier, and the 
honest descriptions given me of conditions there by 
those familiar with them, had opened my eyes to the 


realities of the situation. Sugar-plums and the whip 
had prevailed ever since 1871. The results corres- 
ponded to the tactics. The last period had been one 
of sugar-plums, and the reichsldndische constitution 
had been its culmination. French propaganda now 
had it all its own way and did whatever it pleased. 
The pro-French notables set the fashion and called 
the tune for the civil administration. The military 
were, in a sense, merely tolerated by the irredentist 
circles. Just one example to illustrate the pre-war 
conditions in the German Reichslanden and the attitude 
of the government authorities. Two of my flying- 
officers told me one day that, in the year 1913, a great 
French presentation of the colours took place, and they 
the military were advised not to show themselves 
in the streets on that day lest the sight of their Prus- 
sian uniform might irritate the French. Under such 
conditions it was that the conflict arose. The civil 
population had heckled the Prussian military, the 
officer had defended himself, and then the whole world 
suddenly howled at Prussian militarism. At this 
moment, at a time when foreign countries and the 
never- wanting sophistical advocates of absolute justice 
in our own poor Germany were doing everything to 
discredit our last and only asset, our army, in the eyes 
of friend and foe, I readily and " without the proper 
reserve," as it was said, took my stand by my comrades 
who were so hard pressed by the attacks of public 
controversy. I wired to General von Deimling and to 
Colonel von Reuter. That is all true. But that I sent 
the colonel a telegram containing the words, " Immer 
feste druff " I learned from the newspapers, and thanks 
to the falsifying imagination of those peace-lovers who, 
with this invention, sought perhaps to strengthen the 
great longings for peace all around us. In truth I 
had telegraphed to Colonel von Reuter as a comrade 


that he should take severe measures, since the prestige 
of the army was at stake. If Lieutenant von Forstner 
had been condemned, every hooligan would have felt 
encouraged to attack the uniform. An untenable 
situation would have been sanctioned, doubly unten- 
able in the Reichslanden, where, in consequence of the 
lax attitude of the civil authorities, the military already 
found themselves in the most difficult circumstances. 
I should like to have seen what would have happened 
in England or France, if an officer had been provoked 
as Lieutenant von Forstner was. 

But we were in Germany. German public opinion 
had once more a pretext for busying itself with me in 
conjunction with the events described ; the old talk 
about a camarilla, about the war firebrand and the 
frondeur of Langfuhr were dished up again in the 
leading articles of the scribblers. If they were to be 
believed, I had once again made myself " impossible." 
The highest dignitaries wore the doubtful faces pre- 
scribed for such occasions of national mourning, and 
His Majesty was highly displeased. 

Schiller says in William Tell : ' ' The waters rage and 
clamour for their victims " ; and another passage runs : 

'Twas blessing in disguise ; it raised me upwards." 

Out of the blue and with great suddenness every- 
thing happened. His Majesty took my regiment from 
me and ordered me to Berlin, so that my overgrown 
independence might be curtailed and my doings better 
watched. I was to work in the General Staff. 

In this way a circle was completed : the desire not to 
have me too near the central authorities had sent me 
to Langfuhr by Danzig ; the desire to have me within 
reach brought me back again ; in both cases, a little 
indignation and a little annoyance played their part. 

At any rate, among the incorrigible pacifists who 
wished to disperse with pretty speeches the war-menace 


already hanging above the horizon, indignation was 
aroused by my farewell words to my Hussars. I had 
called it a moment of the greatest happiness to the 
soldier " when the King called and March ! March ! 
was sounded." According to them I ought doubtless 
to have told my brave comrades some pretty fairy 

When I rode for the last time down the front of my 
fine regiment and the farewell shouts of my Hussars 
rang in my ears, my heart became unspeakably heavy. 
It was as though a still small voice whispered that this 
was the farewell to a peaceful soldier's life which I was 
never again to know. What I was now to leave had 
all been so beautiful, so happy and so replete with 
honest labour. 

In foreign soil, sleeping their eternal sleep, now rest 
many too, too many of the bright and capable 
young comrades of my beloved and courageous regiment 
of Hussars whose uniform I was delighted and proud 
to wear throughout the war. Among them lies my 
cousin, Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia, a par- 
ticularly undaunted rider and soldier. My memory 
will be with them all in grateful sadness as long as I 

4> 4> 4> 

Perhaps I ought to have torn up the sheets I wrote 
yesterday and to have re-written them in a different 
style. When I read them through to-day, I found in 
them a note of irritability that I would prefer not to in- 
troduce into my memoirs. But I shall let them remain 
as they are ; they bear witness to the bitterness which 
still possesses me when I recall that last year before 
the war and the absurdity of our " ostrich " policy. 
What a sorry humour comes over me when I remember 
how they dubbed me the instigator of a " fresh, free, 
rollicking war " because of my warning : " Then pre- 


serve at least your last for the grave day and keep 
yourselves armed for the struggle that is surely 
coming ! ' 

The truth is that I was clearly conscious of the 
terrible seriousness of our position, that I neither was 
nor am a Cassandra filling the halls of Troy with verses 
of lament, but a man and a soldier. Yet people in 
our beloved homeland took it very ill that I was the 
latter, and they do so still. 

For the winter 1913-14 I was ordered to the Great 
General Staff for purposes of initiation and study. My 
instructor was Lieutenant-General Schmidt von Kno- 
belsdorf, who became afterwards my Chief of General 
Staff in the Upper Command of the Fifth Army. In 
matters of military science I owe much to His Excel- 
ency von Knobelsdorf. He was a brilliant teacher in 
every domain of tactics and strategy. His lectures 
and the themes he set for me were masterpieces. His 
chief maxim was : clearness of decision on the part of 
the leader ; translation of the decision into commands ; 
leave your subordinates the widest scope of personal 

My appointment to the General Staff gave me an 
exhaustive insight into the enormous amount of work 
it performed. I was able to penetrate into the superb 
organization of the whole, to become acquainted with 
the maintenance, the recuperation and the movements 
of the army, and to form an opinion concerning the 
defensive forces of other nations. In the operations 
department I heard lectures on the proposed concen- 
tration of the armies in the event of war. 

From the lectures and discussions concerning a possible 
world war, I obtained the impression that the British 
army and its possibilities of development in case of 
war were treated too lightly. People seemed to reckon 
too much with the disposable forces of the moment, 


and too little with the value of what might be created 
under the pressure of war and resistance. I knew some- 
thing of the English and their army from my various 
visits and from personal observation, and I knew, too, 
their great talent for organization as well as their skill in 
improvising. If a conceivable war were carried through 
successfully before these talents could be brought 
into play, the estimates of our General Staff might 
prove correct, but not otherwise. The Russian army 
I also considered not to have been always rated at its 
full significance. 

In regard to our western neighbour and presumably 
immediate adversary, I have only to recall that France, 
at that time, despite her considerably smaller popula- 
tion, maintained an army almost as large as ours. 
To do so, she levied eighty per cent, of her men, whereas 
we contented ourselves with about fifty per cent. 

The general view of the peace strength in the event 
of a war such as that which actually occurred may be 
put thus : For Germany not quite 900,000 troops and 
for Austria- Hungary about 500,000 together, roughly 
1,400,000 men on the side of the Central Powers. On 
the other hand, Russia alone provided the Entente with 
well over 2,000,000 soldiers, to whom were to be added 
those of France and Belgium. Thus, even at the out- 
set of the war, we were outnumbered in the ratio of 
two to one. Reckoning the quality of the German as 
high as you please and to place him very high was 
quite justifiable the odds were too great. 

With all that, we had, in 1914, an army that, in 
every way, was brilliantly trained ; and consequently, 
in the summer of that year, when the die was cast, we 
took the field " with the best army in the world." 

But, so far as provision for war was concerned, we 
had unfortunately not, in our peace preparations, 
attained the maximum of striking energy. We were 


far from having exploited all our resources of strength 
in people and land or mobilized them in time. That 
the Great General Staff had repeatedly expressed urgent 
wishes in this matter I can, myself, testify. The fault 
did not lie there. Nor did it lie with the German 
Reichstag, which, in consideration of the menacing 
seriousness of the situation, would not, despite its party 
differences, have refused to provide the German sword 
with all possible force and keenness, if the responsible 
Ministers had used all their weight to this end. But 
it seemed then, as it had done in peace time, as though 
all communications, suggestions or inquiries issuing 
from military quarters and especially from the General 
Staff, fell on barren ground. Close co-operation was, 
under such circumstances, impossible. 

In that very year 1914, a question arose which was 
viewed from totally different standpoints by the two 
parties. The Russians began to make a compre- 
hensive redisposition of their troops. Quite evidently 
the centre of gravity was being shifted towards the 
German and Austrian frontiers, which felt more and 
more the pressure of these amassments. From the 
interior of Russia, also, the General Staff received 
news of curious troop movements. How were these 
proceedings to be explained ? The military view 
that they gave us good reason to be prepared for any 
event was met by the watery explanation that the 
affair was only a test mobilization ; and, in stupid 
anxiety lest a definite clearing up of the matter might 
" start the avalanche," the political gentlemen adopted 
the attitude of " Wait and see." 

Subsequent to the "summer visit of the General 
Staff to the Vosges under the leadership of its chief, 
von Moltke, I received a few weeks' furlough, which 


I spent in West Prussia. Early in July, I joined my 
family in a charming little villa presented to us by 
the town of Zoppot. It was a magnificently brilliant 
summer, and the days went swiftly by in such 
recreations as swimming, rowing, riding and tennis. 
Zoppot was filled with strangers, including many Poles. 

In the midst of this serene peacefulness, I was 
startled by the gruesome telegram which brought 
me the tidings of the Archduke's assassination. That 
this political murder would have serious consequences 
was obvious. But this gloomy conviction remained, 
for the moment, confined to my own bosom ; not a 
soul among our leading statesmen thought it necessary 
to hear my views or to inform me of those of our 
Ministers. Neither from the Imperial Chancellor, nor 
from the Foreign Office, nor from the Chief of the 
General Staff, did I learn a thing about the course 
of affairs. 

The Kaiser was cruising in Norwegian waters, 
which I had to take as an indication that nothing 
unusual was to be anticipated. Only the newspaper 
reports strengthened my belief that serious develop- 
ments were on the way. From Danzig merchants 
who had just returned from Russia I also received 
news indicating that an extensive westward movement 
of Russian troops was taking place ; though, naturally, 
I had no means of checking the correctness of this 

It was also from the Press that I gleaned my first 
information concerning the Austrian ultimatum. Its 
wording left the door open to every possibility, accord- 
ing to the political attitude adopted towards it by our 
Foreign Office. To me it seemed quite self-evident 
that the Wilhelmstrasse ought to assume an inde- 
pendent position and certainly ought not to allow itself 
to be drawn once more, as unhappily had previously 


been the case, into the wake of a pronounced Austrian 

To these days, in which the world faced such 
tremendous decisions, belongs an interlude, a painful 
one for me, that was once more to reveal to me, just 
before the eleventh hour, the chasm between my own 
conception of things and the Imperial Chancellor's. 
It was my last peace conflict with Herr von Bethmann 
in reality a matter of no consequence and one of 
which I speak here only because, at the time, it was 
dragged into the newspapers and capital made of it 
to my detriment. 

I had given expression to my interest in the utter- 
ances of two Germans who, like myself, saw the 
gathering storm and raised their voices in warning. 
The one was the retired lieutenant-colonel, D. H. 
Frobenius, who had published a political pamphlet called 
The German Empire's Hour of Destiny ; the other was 
Professor Gustav Buchholz, who had delivered a speech 
on Bismarck at Posen. The wording of my telegram 
to Frobenius ran : "I have read with great interest 
your splendid brochure ' Des Deutschen Reiches 
Schicksalsstunde ' and wish it the widest circulation 
among the German people. Wilhelm Kronprinz." 

These " bellicose manifestations " (" Kriegs- 
hetzerischen Kundgebungen ") Herr von Bethmann 
considered calculated to " compromise and cross " 
(" kompromittieren und kontrekarrieren ") his 
firmly established policy ; and he found time, on 
July 20, to address personally to His Majesty a 
long telegram complaining of my action and request- 
ing him " to forbid me by telegram all interference in 
politics." Thereupon, in a telegram from Balholm 
dated July 21, the Kaiser, appealing to my sense 
of duty and honour as a Prussian officer, reminded 
me of my promise to refrain from all political 


activity ; accordingly and without any discussion 
as to whether, in my telegram quoted above, anything 
more could be found than the thanks of an inter- 
ested and approving reader, I wired to His Majesty 
on July 23 : " Commands will be carried out." At 
that moment I had other matters to worry about than 
disputes with Herr von Bethmann over the limits 
of my right to thank some one for a book that had 
been sent me. 

The next thing I learned touching the great problem 
was that the Kaiser had arrived at Kiel on board the 
Hohenzollern on the morning of the 26th, and that 
he had proceeded immediately to Potsdam. That 
was comforting, since, if there were any prospect of 
maintaining peace, he would exert himself to the 
utmost to do so. 

Then silence again. Then, in the newspapers, which 
we seized eagerly : " Grey has suggested to Paris, 
Berlin and Rome concerted action at Vienna and 
Belgrade the crown council in Cetinje has resolved 
upon mobilization." 

Distinctly and clearly, as though it were but yester- 
day, I still recall the 3oth of July. My adjutant 
Miiller and I were lying in the dunes sunning ourselves 
after a delightful swim, when an urgent telegram 
was brought me by special messenger. It contained 
His Majesty's orders for me to come at once to 
Potsdam. We now saw the full seriousness of the 

I started immediately. 

On the 3 ist there was a supper at the New Palace, 
at which my uncle, Prince Henry, was also present. 

After supper, His Majesty walked up and down in the 
garden with myself and Prince Henry. He was exces- 
sively serious ; he did not conceal from himself the 
enormous peril of the situation, but he expressed the 


hope that a European war might be avoided ; he 
himself had sent detailed telegrams to the Tsar and 
to the King of England and believed he might anticipate 

Some difference arose between my uncle and myself 
through my asserting that, if it came to war, England 
would most assuredly take the side of our adversaries. 
Prince Henry contested this. Thus I found here the 
same optimism that had clouded the views of the 
Imperial Chancellor, who, to the last moment, held firm 
and fast to his belief in England's neutrality. His 
Majesty was in some doubt as to the attitude which 
England would adopt in the event of war. 

My last conversation on this question with the 
Imperial Chancellor, von Bethmann Hollweg, took 
place at the Palace in Berlin on August 2. It is 
stamped into my memory sharp and indelible ; the 
impressive hour in which it occurred enhanced the 
depth and significance of the effect, which, with final 
and terrible clearness, once more revealed to me, on 
the threshold of war, that our only prospect of success 
lay in the strength of the German army. 

On that 2nd of August, I had just taken leave of my 
father to join the army. My car stood ready. As I was 
about to leave the little garden between the palace 
and the Spree, I met the Chancellor coming in to report 
to His Majesty, and we spent a few minutes in talk. 

Bethmann : Your Imperial Highness is going to the 
front ? 

Myself : Yes. 

Bethmann : Will the army do it ? 

Myself : Whatever an army can do we shall do ; but 
I feel constrained to point out to Your Excellency that 
the political aspect of the stars under which we are 
entering the war is the most unfavourable that one can 


Bethmann : In what way ? 

Myself : Well, that is clear : Russia, France, England 
on the other side ; Italy and Roumania at most 
neutral though even that is improbable. 

Bethmann : Why, that is impossible. England will 
certainly remain neutral. 

Myself : Your Excellency will receive the declaration 
of war in a few days. There is only one thing to be 
done : to find allies. In my opinion, we must do 
everything to induce Turkey and Bulgaria to conclude 
alliances with us as soon as possible. 

Bethmann : I should consider that the greatest mis- 
fortune for Germany. 

I stared at him puzzled, till I perceived the connexion 
between his remark and what had gone before. In 
his incomprehensible ideology he meant that, by such 
alliances, we might forfeit the friendship and the 
certain neutrality of England friendship and neutrality 
that existed only in his own head. 

As soon as I grasped this, our conversation was at an 
end. I saluted him and drove off. 

There was only one hope, one support, on which 
we could lean ; that was the German people in arms, 
the German army. With that we might perhaps 
succeed in our task despite our diplomatists and despite 
the naive imaginings of this Chancellor, who was so 
spiritually minded that he was almost completely 
out of touch with mundane realities. 

The incredible conception of our political situation, 
as revealed by Herr von Bethmann Hollweg in the 
conversation just cited, is apparent also in the report 
of the British Ambassador, Sir Edward Goschen, on 
his decisive interview with the Chancellor the next 
day. According to that report, Herr von Beth- 
mann, now that he was at last bound to see be- 
fore him England's true face, admitted with emotion 


that his entire policy had collapsed like a house of 

Since those fateful summer days of the year 1914, 
I have thought much and often about these incidents ; 
and here in the solitude of the island I have pondered 
more and more over the matter. The blue, the red 
and the white books of the various countries have 
furnished me with many a hint as to the actual pro- 
ceedings of the weeks immediately before the war. 
And I find myself obliged to formulate a judgment 
in even more severe terms than before : in those 
fateful days Bethmann Hollweg's policy and the 
Foreign Office failed more completely than might have 
been looked for from the example of preceding years. 

That, in a war between Austria and Serbia, Russia 
would back Serbia and France Russia, and so on, was 
known to every amateur politician in Germany. 
Instead of critically examining Austria's action and 
saying categorically to the Ballplatz : ' We shall not 
wage war for Serbia," people did as I had feared ; 
they allowed themselves to be completely taken in tow 
by Austria. That is what happened, and, in my 
opinion, none of the other representations of the case 
by the Foreign Office go to the root of the matter. 
The totally incomprehensible attitude of the Foreign 
Office placed us in quite a false light ; so that the 
Entente, adducing the outward appearance as proof, 
assert that we declined the mediation of England 
because we wished to go to war. 

Withal, this Foreign Office was so sure of itself that 
it allowed the Kaiser to proceed to Norway, the Chief 
of the General Staff to stay at Carlsbad, and His Excel- 
lency von Tirpitz to remain on furlough in the Black 

Thanks to an incredibly blind management of our 
foreign affairs, we just blundered into the world war. 


So remarkable was the incompetence of our responsible 
authorities that the world refused to believe us, refused 
to regard such simplicity as possible, took it to be a 
cleverly chosen mask behind which was hidden some 
particularly cunning scheme. 

When the Kaiser returned from Norway, it was too 
late to accomplish anything. Destiny took its course. 

Middle of July, 1920. 

For considerably more than half a year I have not 
had in my hands these sheets on which I had set 
down a review of my life and of my immediate 
surroundings down to the outbreak of war and, at the 
same time, my impressions and reminiscences of the 
events which led up to it. Not that I had given up 
the idea of sketching the incidents of the war in a 
similar way, but because, in the progress of the work, 
it soon appeared necessary to lift these out of the scope 
of personal reminiscences and to mould them into the 
form of an historical presentation of the events of the 

Consequently, from October of last year till now, 
my task has been the recording of the purely military 
happenings which from the day we took the field 
I shared and experienced in common with the troops 
entrusted to me, during the long days of the war as 
leader of the Fifth Army and as Commander-in-Chief 
of the " Kronprinz " group of armies. 

All the great events that took place in those years 
and all the sufferings that I had to wrestle with and to 
endure I have conscientiously noted down. In this way 
there has been laid the foundation of a presentation of 
the tremendous military performances of that fellowship 
whose members stood as comrades under me and with 
me in the field. It is a presentation which, the more I 
occupied myself with it, tempted me more and more to 


make the utmost use of the copious material in my 
possession ; I was attracted, too, by the thought of 
erecting to my faithful fellow-soldiers a chaste and 
simple monument in the shape of a straightforward 
and unadorned story of their doings. 

The account that I have given in it, as a soldier, 
of those bloody and yet immortally great four and a 
half years, will not fit into the framework of what I 
have already recounted in these pages. It is military 
technical writing in the strictest sense of the word, 
and is to take the form of a separate and complete 

These considerations have led me to decide upon 
lifting the picture of the military enterprises and 
battles bodily out of these present memoirs and to 
proceed, as before, with the frank and free description 
of my most personal impressions and experiences and 
my attitude towards the most weighty problems 
brought before me by the war and into which I 
was swept by the general collapse and ruin. 

But before returning to my memories of that 
more remote past, I should like to say something of 
the eight or nine months which have elapsed since I 
wrote of them last in this manuscript. 

If anyone had said to me last autumn : When the 
New Year comes, and spring, and summer, you will 
still be in this island and far from your home, I should 
not have believed him, should scarcely have been 
able to bear the thought of it. Thus the never-failing 
hopes of a progressive restoration of our homeland 
to fresh order and tranquillity, coupled with the work 
which alongside of everything else brought by the 
days, months and seasons I have never interrupted 
for any length of time, have helped me over this period. 
Friends also, who have visited me in my solitude and 
brought me a kind of echo from the world, have helped 


to lighten my sequestered lot ; so, too, have the good 
simple people around me, who, since they made the 
acquaintance of my wife, have grown doubly fond 
of me ; finally, there is my faithful comrade, Major 
von Miildner, who, in self-sacrificing devotion, shares 
with me this solitude and, ever and again, takes upon 
himself a thousand and one troubles and worries in 
order to spare me the burden. 

Who were all the people that came ? In autumn 
there was that fine editor, Prell, a thorough German, 
who conducts the Deutsche Wochenzeitung in the 
Netherlands, accompanied by his colleague, Mr. Ros- 
tock. This German- American gave me some interest- 
ing descriptions of anti-German war propaganda in 
America. He also brought with him a propaganda 
picture which is said to have met with great success 
over there ; it represented me armed as an ancient 
Teutonic warrior fighting women and children in the 
attack on Verdun. Another visitor was Captain Konig, 
the famous commander of the Deutschland submarine. 
Then there were Mr. Kan, the Secretary General to 
the Home Office, a strictly correct Dutch state official, 
to whose truly humane care I owe so much and His 
Excellency, von Berg, formerly Supreme President of 
East Prussia and afterwards Chief of the Department of 
Home Affairs, who has proved one of the best and most 
unerringly faithful advisers of our House in fortune 
and misfortune ; he belongs to the distant " Borussia " 
days of Bonn, was a friend of the Kaiser's in his 
youth and is one of the men who, with deep human 
comprehension, have remained true to the lonely 
ageing man at Amerongen. 

The winter has set in with comfortless and sombre 
severity. The anniversary of my landing in the 
island was shrouded in greyness and mist, like the 
day itself. Leaden clouds lay heavy over the sea and 


over the little island ; and, day and night, tempests 
swept across the dykes and scourged the unhappy 
country. A few days' work with Major Kurt, my 
former clever and indefatigably active intelligence 
officer, constituted a welcome respite. 

Shortly before Christmas, Miiller, my old adjutant 
and chief of staff, arrived with Christmas presents 
from home presents sent by relatives and touching 
tokens of affection from modest unknown persons. 
For the German children who, at the time, were 
staying with good people in the island to recuperate 
from the gruesome effects of the famine blockade, I 
arranged a Christmas feast in the little Seeblick Inn 
at Oosterland, with a Christmas tree and all sorts of 
presents and old German carols. 

On December 23, the small and intimate circle of my 
household celebrated Christmas in the parsonage ; and 
next day Miildner and I, accompanied by two gentle- 
men appointed by the Dutch Government, crossed over 
to the mainland and proceeded to Amerongen to keep 
Christmas with my parents in the hospitable home 
of Count Bentinck. A few months before in October 
I had seen my father for the first time since that 
9th of November of the previous year, on which day, 
after grave talks, I had left him in Spa under the assured 
conviction that, in spite of all opposition, he would 
remain with the army. 

Ineffaceable is the image left to me of that man with 
silver grey hair standing in the light of the many 
candles on the tall dark-green tree ; still there rings 
in my ear the unforgettable voice as, on that Christmas 
Eve, he read the Gospel of the first Noel : " Glory to 
God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill 
toward men." 

On the 27th I travelled back to Wieringen. 

The New Year came, and its days resembled the 


days of the year gone by. " Peace on earth " ? 
Hatred and revenge more savage than ever before ! 
The unbroken determination to destroy on the part of 
France, who cannot pardon us the mendacity of her 
theses on war-guilt ! The newspapers once more full of 
inflammatory comments on the extradition question ! 
And, very amusing for me, the wild rumours of my 
approaching or even accomplished flight in an aero- 
plane, a submarine or God knows what ! On one 
occasion two American journalists actually appeared 
in my cottage and asked permission to assure them- 
selves of my presence here with their own eyes. I 
willingly consented to their request. 

In the beginning of February, the official extradition 
list was made known nine hundred names, with mine 
at the head. On that occasion, for the first time, I 
interrupted the aloofness of my life here in this island, 
and addressed a telegram to the Allied Powers offering 
to place myself voluntarily at their disposal in lieu 
of the other men claimed. This step, a simple outcome 
of my feelings, evoked no reply from any one of the 
Powers and was extensively misinterpreted both at 
home and abroad. 

Buoyed up by the reports in the various newspapers, 
I lived on into March in the hope that, despite all 
the after-effects of the revolution fever and party 
strife, our homeland was on the road to internal 
tranquillity and consolidation. This belief was sud- 
denly crushed by the news of the Kapp putsch and 
its important consequences. Over and above the 
pain caused by this relapse into sanguinary disturb- 
ances, the incident meant for me a bitter disappoint- 
ment of my hopes that, at perhaps no very distant 
date, I might venture to return to my place within my 
family and on German soil without risk of introducing 
fresh inflammable matter into the Fatherland. Events 


had clearly shown that the hour of my return had 
not yet come, that possibly it still lay in the distant 
future. Considering the mentality manifested by 
the homeland, I was forced to fear that I might become 
the apple of discord among opposing parties, to fear 
that hold aloof from all political affairs as I might 
my return would be made the countersign for fresh 
struggles for and against existing conditions by one party 
or another without any consideration of my wishes in 
the matter. The reasons which, on November n, 
1918, had decided me, with a heavy heart, to go to 
Holland, proved to be still valid ; hence, if I were not 
to render my sacrifice null and void by failure half- 
way to its completion, I had still to remain and to 

I frankly concede that those March days, in which, 
with intense bitterness, I struggled through to this 
conviction, held some of the hardest hours of my life. 
The fifteen months spent on my island in primitive 
surroundings and far from every intellectual stimulus 
and from all culture had been rendered tolerable by 
the belief that the end of my solitude and the re- 
entrance into the circle of my people and into the life 
of German labour were within measurable distance of 
being accomplished. The goal had seemed to be 
attainable in perhaps a few months. This open outlook 
had enabled me to endure really very great hardships 
with courage, and the thought that it was now only a 
little while longer had been my best solace. In this 
way everything acquired the character of the transi- 
tory and provisional. 

It would have been stupid self-deception for me to 
try to maintain this confidence after those days of 
March. The old wounds that had been ripped open 
again could not be healed in months ; it would take 
years for that. 


It is strange how small external aids of nature 
often give us sudden strength to overcome the severest 
mental conflicts that have lasted for days and nights 
together. I quite clearly see a day at the end of March. 
I smell the keen sea-breeze and the vapours rising from 
the soil as the earth awakened in the early spring. 
From the study in my parsonage a small verandah, 
bitterly cold in winter, communicates with the veget- 
able garden long and narrow like a towel and not 
much bigger. On the day in question, I was standing 
in the doorway of the verandah and looking pensively 
across the desolate winter-worn garden. In the 
previous spring we had let everything grow as 
rank and wild as it pleased. Why not ? We 
should be gone in three months or so. But now, 
at the sight of the tangled and unkempt beds, the 
raggedness of the shrubs, and the paths weather- 
worn by frost and rain, I felt suddenly the impulse 
to do something here. Against a little kennel-like 
shed attached to the house there leaned a spade, j 
snatched it up with an ardent will, and set to digging. 
I went on and on till my back ached. The work of 
that hour was a relief from the inner burden I bore. 
I would not let the time pass in vainly waiting for 
the hour of my return home. Strive for the attain- 
ment of your wishes and your longings, but accept 
the hardships of the times and so live that they, too, 
may help to determine the future. Since that morning, 
I have worked daily in our little garden. It is restored 
to order. Some one will reap the fruits I or another. 

That was in the days of the Kapp putsch. I must 
say something more about this unhappy episode. 
Feeling and believing that a monarchical government, 
which stands above all party differences, best suits 
the peculiar political and complex conditions of our 
homeland of the German country and the German 


people I should not be true to my convictions if I 
did not frankly state that I can understand the tempta- 
tions and allurements which enmeshed so many excel- 
lent, experienced men of high ideals in this mistaken 
enterprise. That they lacked a proper comprehension 
of the new situation created by the collapse of Ger- 
many and consequently had not the necessary strength 
to withstand the temptation of the moment I deeply 
regret. To reckon with facts, even when the facts 
do not respond to our wishes, is more essential for 
us Germans than ever, because our prime and weightiest 
duty towards ourselves and our successors is first to 
rebuild our demolished house, and every particle of 
strength squandered in pursuing other aims is lost to the 
main object. So soon as that house stands once more 
grand and firm on the soil of our home, our disease- 
stricken and debilitated German national feeling will 
find its strength again in its pride over what has been 

What more have I to report ? A mild spring has 
come my second spring in the island. My parents 
have removed to their new residence. 

In his "Memories," published towards the end of 
1919, Lord Fisher says with blunt candour : 

' The essence of War is Violence." 

" Moderation in War is Imbecility." 

" It is the duty of the Government of any Govern- 
ment to rely very largely upon the advice of its mili- 
tary and naval counsellors ; but in the long run, a 
Government which is worthy of the name, which is 
adequate in the discharge of the trust which the nation 
reposes in it, must bring all these things into some kind 
of proportion one to the other, and sometimes it is not 
only expedient, but necessary, to run risks and to 


encounter dangers which pure naval or military policy 
would warn you against." 

If we admit the correctness of these maxims of Lord 
Fisher and, for my own part, I do not hesitate to 
subscribe to them we find in them a keen criticism 
of the attitude of our Imperial Government, since, 
throughout the war, there was no such co-operation 
between them and the Higher Command, and, above 
all, there was no such preponderance of the Govern- 
ment. The Imperial Government, which ought to have 
uttered the final and decisive word in all matters 
touching the sphere of politics, played much too pas- 
sive a part. In critical moments, when events clam- 
oured for decision and for action, little or nothing was 
done. At the best, the Government " weighed con- 
siderations," " made inquiries," swayed between the 
"to be sure " of their discernment and the " but 
nevertheless " of their fear of every activity, so that 
the right moment was allowed to pass unseized. So it 
came about that the Higher Command occasionally 
interfered more in questions of home and foreign 
policy than, according to its province, it ought strictly 
to have done. It is this which now forms the principal 
accusation against General Ludendorff. But the 
Higher Command did so, because it was forced to 
do so ; it did so in order that something, at any 
rate, might be undertaken for the solution of pressing 
questions, that things might not simply disappear in 
sand. If, therefore, the public blamed General Luden- 
dorff, and still blame him, for having ruled like a dictator 
inasmuch as he meddled with all political affairs, and 
with problems of substitutes of every kind, food, raw 
materials and labour, no one acquainted with the actual 
circumstances and events is likely to deny that there 
is a grain of truth in the assertion. He will have to 
point out, however, that General Ludendorff was com- 


pelled to interfere by the inactivity and weakness of 
the authorities and personages whose right and whose 
duty it was to deal with the tasks arising out of the 
matters in question. I could not contradict Ludendorff 
when he used to say to me : " All that is really 
no business of mine ; but something must be done, 
and if I don't do it, nothing will be done at home " 
meaning, by the Government. In such moments, 
my heart well understood this energetic and resolute 
man, albeit my reason told me that there was too, 
too much piled upon his shoulders. Every man's 
capacities have their limit ; and no day has more 
than 24 hours. Hence it was impossible for one man, 
even one of our best, to supervise and direct both the 
enormous machine of our Higher Command and also 
every department of our economics and of our home 
and foreign policy. The necessity of adapting himself 
to such excessive tasks was bound to cause some 
detriment to the powers of the most highly gifted person. 
The unfavourable issue of the Battle of the Marne 
in September, 1914, frustrated the prospects of Schlief- 
fen's programme of first rapidly prostrating France 
and then dealing with Russia. That we were faced 
with a war of indefinite duration now seemed probable, 
and, personally in the year 1915 I came to the 
conclusion that, in the event of an excessive prolonga- 
tion of the war, time would be on the side of our 
adversaries. It was bound to give them the oppor- 
tunity of mobilizing the immeasurable resources of the 
world which lay like a hinterland behind their fronts. 
It would give them the chance of marshalling these 
against us, while our mewed-up Central Europe had to 
confine itself to the exploitation of its own raw material 
which, moreover, had not been supplemented by any 
systematic pre-war preparation. Time, too, would 
afford our adversaries opportunity to levy and train 


enormous armies and to reduce to a minimum the calls 
made upon the individual fighter ; whereas we should 
be forced to demand from every German the sacrifice 
of his last ounce of energy, thus, in the end, exhausting 
our strength by the inequality of the terms imposed. 
From the moment that this was recognized, it be- 
came the duty and task of the leading statesman, the 
Imperial Chancellor, continually to consider political 
steps for the conclusion of the war more or less inde- 
pendently of the plans and views of the military 
leadership. Whatever successes were achieved by the 
army, were they never so brilliant, the far-sighted 
politician ought to have made use of them solely and 
simply as footholds and rungs for him to climb by ; 
on no account ought he to have been dazzled by them ; 
on no account ought he to have adopted towards the 
Higher Command the attitude : " Finish your work 
first ; then it will be my turn, for the present there is 
nothing for me to do." But had Herr von Beth- 
mann Hollweg the least capacity either to will vigor- 
ously or boldly to dare anything ? Had he survived the 
terrible collapse of his "England theory " or the political 
hara-kiri of his declaration of August 4, 1914, as a man 
psychically unimpaired ? Be that as it may, our political 
destiny continued to remain entrusted to this man, 
whose hands had been palsied by ill-starred enter- 
prises and whose eyes had acquired the lack-lustre of 
resignation. When I seek for any energy in Bethmann 
Hollweg, there occurs forcibly to my mind an episode 
told to me, with every guarantee for its veracity, by a 
Hamburg shipowner in the summer of 1915. Ballin, 
he said, had called on the Imperial Chancellor 
and, out of the wealth of his knowledge concerning 
world affairs, had urgently talked to him about the 
general situation. When he stopped, Bethmann heaved 
a deep sigh, drew his hand across his forehead and 


said : " I only wish I were dead. ..." In order to 
rouse him out of his lethargy, Ballin, with an attempt 
to laugh, replied : 'I dare say you do. No doubt 
it would just suit you admirably to lie in your coffin 
all day long and watch other people working and 

Quite certainly it would have been no easy matter, 
and for that discouraged heart it would have been 
impossible, to detach one of our enemies from the 
alliance and come to a separate understanding with 
him ; but that it would have been useless, as the Foreign 
Office assumed, to make the attempt, I failed to see 
during the war, and I fail to see still. Separate peace 
might, I conceive, have been concluded perhaps with 
Russia, say in the early summer of 1915, immediately 
after our break through at Gorlice. Still the difficulties 
of negotiating with Russia at that time were very 
great. Nicholai Nicholaievitch and the entire Russian 
war party were at the helm of affairs, the Entente 
agreement to conclude no separate peace was still 
quite young, and Italy's entrance into the war dated 
only from May. But, for all that, it is impossible 
to say what attitude Russia would have adopted to- 
wards proposals on our part if they had included the 
preservation of her frontier-line of August i, 1914, 
and a big financial loan or the guarantee of her financial 
obligations towards France. 

In any case, the chances of a separate arrangement 
with Russia were excellent in the latter part of the 
summer of 1915, when Russia was in very serious 
military difficulties and the Tsar had appointed the 
admittedly pro-German Stuermer to the premiership. 
I considered it, at the time, an unmistakable sign of 
willingness to negotiate, and I urged our leaders to 
grasp the opportunity. As a matter of fact, in the 
course of the summer and in the early autumn, numer- 


cms deliberations of a general character were carried on 
and terms considered ; but all this took place privately 
among German diplomatists or extended only to con- 
versations between them and the Higher Command. 
Practical deductions which might have resulted in the 
inauguration of relations with Stuermer were not dis- 
cussed. We got no further than empty lamentations 
and futile complaints that the war had completely cut us 
off from all possibility of communicating with people 
across the frontier, that we could not join them, " the 
water was much too deep." 

If it be contended that it is all very easy, now that 
the war has been lost, to come forward and say, " I 
always told you so ; if you had listened to me, things 
might have turned out differently," I would meet such 
not altogether unjustifiable arguments by quoting some 
thoughts and suggestions from a memorial drawn up 
and addressed by me to all persons concerned on De- 
cember 18, 1915, that is to say, at a time when such 
ideas might have borne fruit. In this memorial, I 
maintained that we ought to strain every nerve to 
achieve a separate peace with one of our opponents. 
Russia appeared to me to be the most suitable. At the 
end of the memorial I wrote : 

' What our people have accomplished in this war 
will only be properly valued by historians of a future 
date. But we will not flatter ourselves with any 
complaisant self-deception. The sacrifice of blood 
already made by the German people is enormous. . . . 
It is not my office here to marshal the figures ; but a 
series of very grave indications ought to make us con- 
sider how long we can continue to fill up the gaps in 
our army. I am quite aware that, if we were to 
drain our national energy in the same way as France, 
the war might be continued for a very long time. But 
this is just what ought to be avoided. Every one who 


is at all in intimate touch with the front is deeply 
saddened when he sees what children now find their way 
into the trenches. We ought to consider that, after 
the war, Germany will need forces to enable her to 
fulfil her mission. I will not speak here of the financial 
situation because I am not in a position to form a 
competent opinion. In an economic sense, Germany 
has adapted herself to the circumstances of the war 
most admirably ; but still, in this domain also there 
should be the desire not to prolong the war unneces- 
sarily, as that would cause too heavy a loss. More- 
over, despite all the wise measures of the Government, 
the progressive rise in the cost of living continues 
to weigh upon the poorer classes of the population, and 
there is a great lack of fodder in the country. All this, 
with all that it involves, makes a curtailment of the 
war very desirable ; so that the answer to the question 
' What can we attain ? ' is simply this : 

"If we get a separate peace with Russia, we can 
make a clean sweep in the west. If this is impossible, 
we ought to endeavour to bring about an under- 
standing with England. Only in one of these ways is 
it, I believe, feasible to bring the end within sight ; 
and an end must be made visible, unless we are to 
fight on till our country is utterly exhausted. 

" Our present favourable situation makes it possible 
to proceed on the lines suggested." 

That is what I wrote and advocated before Christ- 
mas, 1915. It had no effect whatever; I might as 
well have shouted to the winds. 

Similar circumstances came about in the following 
year ; but it was not until the autumn of 1916 that the 
Imperial Chancellor had carried his meditations to the 
conclusion that there was no prospect of a separate peace 
with Russia : Russia, he said, was under the dictation of 
England, and England was for continuing the war. 


Meantime we had truly gained a success which was 
bound to exclude all possibility of an amicable under- 
standing with Tsarist Russia : we had created the 
Kingdom of Poland and, in the summer of 1916, we 
had drafted a Polish programme that could not but be 
like a blow in the face to the Tsar and to all Russia. 
Stuermer fell ; and, in the early spring of 1917, the Tsar 
was swept off the throne by the waves of the revolution 
which the Entente had been promoting. During the 
months which followed the outbreak of that revolution, 
the East front was quiet. It was not until the last 
day of June that the Russians attacked again under 
Brussilov. A fortnight later, our counter-attack 
pierced their lines at Tarnopol and a great victory was 
gained over the already decaying Russian army. 

At about the same time, namely on July 12, Beth- 
mann resigned. In the main, the Chancellor's remarks 
in his second volume concerning my share in the pro- 
ceedings are correct, and I have nothing of moment 
to add to them. Herr Michaelis, a man of unproven 
political possibilities and concerning whose capacities 
or incapacities no one, at that time, was able to express 
a convincing judgment, took over the inheritance. 
According to what I heard, Valentini, wringing his 
hands and crying, " A kingdom for a chancellor," 
stumbled, in his search, across this official, who within 
the scope of his previous sphere of activity had 
certainly merited well. I myself had never yet met 
Dr. Michaelis. He was now introduced to me as 
an exceptionally capable man to whom one might 
apply the proverb : " Still waters run deep." This 
was in July, 1917, just before his presentation to 
the Kaiser ; and when, at the command of His 
Majesty, I was to negotiate with the party leaders at 
Schloss Bellevue in connexion with the Bethmann 
crisis, the conversation turned upon the burning 


question of the situation created by the action of 
Erzberger in the Reichstag Committee, and still more 
upon the bad impression made upon the enemy by 
the matter and form of the peace resolution, whose 
drafting was so impolitic, unwise and clumsy that it 
had seriously injured our interests. Instead of being 
the expression of a genuine desire for peace on the 
part of an unbroken combatant, this resolution 
looked like a sign of military weakness and waning 
resistance. Only the reverse of the desired effect could 
be expected. I found Michaelis in general quite of 
my own opinion ; but I could not induce him, in this 
short interview, to disclose his own ideas, and conse- 
quently I could form no image of the plans he carried 
in his pocket for grappling with the exceedingly diffi- 
cult task which was to fall to him as Bethmann's heir. 
But, in Dr. Michaelis, the best of intentions coupled 
with pious confidence was recognizable. That was 
not exactly a great deal ; but I said to myself : " He 
is about to present himself to His Majesty, he knows 
your antipathy to the policy prevailing hitherto and does 
not know how much he can venture to say to you ; you 
must wait and see." In any case, the change of Chan- 
cellors appeared to provide the right moment for me 
to risk raising my voice once again and to place my 
view of things before the deciding authorities. I was 
induced to take this course by the conviction that, after 
all the criticism which I had expressed upon the Beth- 
mann Hollweg Government, a judgment upon a system 
which, with Bethmann's exit, had come to a certain formal 
close, should not exhaust itself in rejection and negation; 
I felt that he who claimed the right to criticize 
assumed the duty of proposing something better and 
of defending it both in the present and in the future. 

Consequently, in the summer of 1917, while we were 
fighting in Russia, I worked out another memorial and 


laid it simultaneously before the Kaiser, the Imperial 
Chancellor and the Higher Command. It came into 
being in the days when, as leader of my army, I had 
just gained on the Aisne and in Champagne an exten- 
sive defensive victory against an attempt of seventy- 
nine French divisions to pierce my lines ; and I will 
gladly leave it to public opinion to decide whether, 
in this memorial, the " war fanatic " and " victor " is 
speaking or whether it is a witness to my desire for an 
honourable peace. This memorial was written after a 
conversation with the clever and politically far-seeing 
Dr. Victor Naumann, but only those paragraphs refer- 
ring to our foreign policy have any significance for my 
then attitude towards the peace question in the East. 
I quote here the principal passages, because, taken 
together as a whole, they show my attitude at that time 
towards many other important questions connected 
with the war : 

' The change in the leadership of the empire, with 
which is to begin a new era in German and Russian 
policy, will naturally necessitate the drawing up of a 
balance concerning the past, in order to find a more or 
less reliable basis for future plans. In my opinion, 
therefore, the following points must be determined : 

1. What stocks have we of raw materials of every 


2. What is our maximum capacity for working up 

these materials ? 

3. What stocks of coal do we possess ? 

4. What stocks of food and fodder have we ? 

5. What is the position of our transport facilities ? 
' When this has been determined, it will be necessary 

to decide how many military recruits Germany can 
call up and train next year without imperilling her 
absolutely essential economic capacity. 


" But this is not all. We must also consider 
moral values, the mood of the people ; and in testing 
these, one may with tolerable certainty predict that the 
longing for peace in the masses of the population has 
become very strong. The enormous sacrifices of blood 
during the three years of war already endured 
sacrifices which have cast almost every German home 
and every German family into mourning the pros- 
pect of further heavy losses of valuable human life, 
the mental depression caused and augmented by priva- 
tions of every kind, the dearth of food and coal all 
these things combined have awakened a dissatisfaction 
in wide circles of the people (and not by any means 
only among the social democrats) which is as hamper- 
ing to the prosecution of the war as it is disintegrating 
to the monarchical idea. 

" If it be added that the assured hope of a rapid con- 
clusion of the U-boat warfare has not been fulfilled, 
this serious mood ceases to be surprising. 

' We ought to construct, from the best available 
data, schedules of the resources of our allies parallel 
with those drawn up concerning our own ; for only so 
can we learn what we have to expect and what we can 

" All this information in regard to ourselves and our 
allies having been collected, we shall have to obtain an 
approximately accurate knowledge of the forces and 
reserves of the enemy. Without exposing oneself to the 
reproach of being a pessimist, one may say at once 
that a comparison of the schedules will scarcely turn 
out favourable to ourselves. The natural deduction is 
that, even at the best, an attack on our part is no 
longer to be thought of, but only a maintenance of our 
position coupled with intensive prosecution of the U-- 
boat warfare for a certain period. If this expires 
without having brought us any hope of a cessation of 


hostilities, we must seek the peace which our diploma- 
tists will meanwhile have been preparing. This duty is 
all the more incumbent upon us inasmuch as we must 
say to ourselves that our chief ally, Austria-Hungary, 
by reason of her economic and, still more, her 
political conditions at home, will be unable to prose- 
cute the war for more than a moderate length of time. 
I need scarcely add that in Turkey also the situation 
is anything but rosy. 

" Now I do not for one moment overlook the fact 
that our adversaries also find themselves in a difficult 
position or that they dread another winter campaign 
extremely. Yet, there are two factors which have 
recently brought about a certain change of feeling. The 
first is America's entrance into the struggle, and the hopes 
which it has awakened ; the second is the over-hasty 
action of the Reichstag (the peace resolution) , which in 
enemy and neutral countries is regarded as an absolute 
declaration of bankruptcy. To-day, in London and 
Paris, and even in Rome, people believe that they may 
wait for us to lay down our arms, since it is now only 
a question of time. 

" Now, what are we to do so that we may continue 
with honour and, if possible, with success, despite all 
these things ? First, what are we to do at home ? 
We must have maintenance of the lines of demarcation 
between the individual offices of the empire without 
prejudice to united action. Although, therefore, the 
leading Minister bears the full responsibility for our 
home and foreign policy, wholesome co-operation with 
the Higher Command, the Admiralty, etc., is indis- 
pensable. The larger federal States must also be kept 
informed as to our situation. Serious attention must 
continue to be paid to the regulation of our coal 
and food supplies. 

"Foreign Policy. Here again only one will can 


dominate, but it must be supported by the mutual 
and candid information of the directing offices, e.g. 
the Foreign Office, the Higher Command, the Admir- 
alty. Candour towards our allies is a duty. So far 
as possible we must spare the neutrals and defer to 
their wishes. 

" Every idea of seeking peace via England is to be 
given up, and a resolute endeavour made to obtain 
peace with Russia. There is hope that, with the repulse 
of the present attack, a change of mood will take place 
in Russia ; then we must seize the right opportunity. 
We may also advise the neutrals that, in general, we are 
not averse to peace on the basis of the status quo ante; 
they will let the other side know. Simultaneously, 
deft negotiators must use persuasion with the Rus- 

" It is almost certain that the West will decline. On 
the other hand it may be hoped that Russia will seek 
peace. In this case, we shall have created a situation 
which will render England already groaning under 
the effects of the U-boat privations somewhat dubious 
as to whether she and her allies shall fight on or, within 
a reasonable time, enter into negotiations with us. 
Should Russia not give way, then we can come before 
the people and say : ' We have done everything to bring 
about peace. It is now demonstrated that our enemies 
wish to destroy us ; therefore we must strain every 
nerve to frustrate their aim/ Possibly such action may 
bring us unsuspected help out of the ranks of the 
people. In any circumstances, it is our duty to 
work for a not too distant peace ; for, unless the 
U-boats shall have brought England to reason within 
the next few months, their further employment will 
not have the same effect as heretofore. Distress with 
us will increase, and the replenishment of our reserves 
of men will become more difficult from day to day. 


The vital energy of our people will be diminished by 
further blood-letting ; in the interior, strikes and 
revolts may occur ; a failure in the production of 
ammunition may render us defenceless. The financial 
burden of the empire will swell to gigantic propor- 
tions ; our allies will possibly seek a separate peace ; 
the neutrals may be forced to join the enemy. 

' To carry out a policy properly one must have the 
courage to look facts in the face. A danger recognized 
is a danger half surmounted. Just now the preserva- 
tion of the dynasty, the maintenance of the German 
Empire, and the existence of the German people, are 
all at stake. If our enemies dictate peace, the last 
syllable of Hohenzollern, Prussian and German history 
will have been written. It dare not come to that ; 
and therefore, it is our duty, if it so must be, to obtain 
a peace of compromise. Such a peace would truly be a 
disappointment ; but an indefinite prolongation of the 
war might see us, in the spring of 1918, facing the whole 
world alone, deprived of our allies, bleeding from the 
cruel wounds of a three and a half years' war and 
threatened with destruction. 

"If we conclude an early peace with our eastern 
adversary, Russia will lie open to us as a domain for 
economic expansion. If that peace comes too late, 
then we come too late, because the Americans will 
have gained a firm footing in that vast realm. But 
we must also remember that, with an early peace, we 
should have financially won the war. 

" One thing is certain : if we but maintain ourselves 
in this war, we shall be the real victors, because we 
shall have fought the whole world without being 
destroyed. This will procure us after the war an 
unexampled prestige and an enormous increase of 
power. Our position resembles that of Frederick 
the Great prior to the Peace of Hubertsburg. He 



stands rightly recorded in history as the victor, be- 
cause he was not defeated. 

(Signed) " WILHELM, 

" Crown Prince of the German Empire and 
of Prussia." 

In March, 1918, roughly three-quarters of a year 
after the drafting of my memorial, we concluded a 
peace with revolutionary Russia. What a peace ! 
Pn the one hand with the dominating demeanour of 
the victor who dictatorially imposes his will on the 
other hand yielding and accommodatingly trustful in 
questions that concerned our very vitals. Joffe was 
permitted to come to Berlin and circulate his roubles 
in Germany for the world revolution. Once more the 
old half-and-half methods. 

No, so far as I can see, the Government did not 
make a sufficiently earnest effort to supplement the 
work of the sword with vigorous, prompt and ade- 
quate political measures. 

In quoting the memorials addressed by me, in 
December, 1915, 'and in July, 1917, ! to the Kaiser, 
the Higher Command and the Imperial Chancellor, I 
have demonstrated that, during the war, I urgently 
advocated preparing the way for a peace by com- 
promise. Of course the drafts referred to were 
only two of the many efforts which I made in the 
same direction. It would vastly exceed the limits 
proposed for these memoirs if I were to give chapter 
and verse for ah 1 that I undertook, subsequent to the 
Battle of the Marne, for the carrying out of my idea, 
which I never recanted, that the indefinite prolonging 
of the war would be intolerable, both for those at the 
front and those at home, as well as the urgent need 
for a compromise, and how advantageous (even though 
it might appear scarcely beneficial at first) this com- 


promise would be compared with a similar agreement 
reached after complete exhaustion. Besides this, 
from my own knowledge gained in personal contact 
with soldiers and civilians, I made attempts to correct 
the erroneous and all too optimistic ideas entertained 
in certain high quarters about the privations of the 
people at home, the powers of endurance of the troops 
at the front, who had been overburdened during the 
past year, and about many similar questions. To all 
these things I may refer later on. 

" But," many will say, " in public and especially to 
the troops, the Crown Prince, more than once, both by 
word of mouth and in writing, expressed and demanded 
determination to conquer and confidence of victory. 
He wished to prevent certain German journals, which 
tended to shake this confidence, from reaching the 

Yes, most assuredly I did ! And, in doing so, I fulfilled 
my duty as an officer and a soldier, just as I fulfilled 
my duty as a politically thinking man and as Crown 
Prince of the German Empire and of Prussia, when I 
endeavoured to induce the proper authorities to face 
unwelcome facts and to strive for a peace by com- 
promise. I am unhesitatingly of opinion that each 
of these actions, apparently so opposite, was perfectly 
justified and indeed complementary. What I regret 
is simply the fact that, as an adviser without political 
responsibility, I possessed neither the means nor the 
power successfully to influence the persons politically 
responsible, and that I had to look on while political 
resolutions and irresolution were, as I believed, deter- 
mining adversely the destiny of Germany. 

I referred just now to my suggested prohibition 
at the front of various journals which systematically 
injured our prospects of winning the war. At that 
time the Democrats talked with great indignation 


about a deliberate gagging of the Press and of the 
public if the idea were carried out at that time, 
forsooth, when it was essential to guard for its one 
single task the army on whose fighting powers every- 
thing depended and to shield it from any deteriorating 
or disintegrating influences. As a matter of fact, 
nothing was done ; the evil was permitted to continue 
its work of corrosion. 

Only with the support of a people determined to 
win and convinced of victory could the Government 
risk steps to bring about a separate peace an under- 
standing with one or another of our adversaries. 
Every effort in this direction was futile, nay, pernicious 
and damaging, when we gave the impression of being 
unable to continue the war and of urgently needing 
peace. Useless and senseless, therefore, were the 
offers of peace publicly trumpeted out to the world 
offers which also gave no clear notion of what we really 
wanted. These offers as any statesmen ought to 
have foreseen only served to strengthen our enemies' 
hopes of an early collapse of our country, to increase 
their confidence and their determination to hold on 
till the " knock-out blow," all to our detriment, all 
to our doom. 

Determination to win and confidence of victory 
sufficient to last out the war and bring it to a happy 
issue could only be maintained in the nation or in the 
army if there stood at the head of affairs not merely 
vigorous and bold military leaders but also an equally 
capable Government, which, during the bloody struggle 
on land, at sea, in the air, should not for one second 
lose control of the numberless threads of its foreign 
policy and which should never allow the slightest favour- 
able movement of events in the war-fevered world to 
escape the grasp of its ever-ready hand a Govern- 
ment that, with keen foresight edness, yet with wise 


recognition and consideration of what was possible, was 
able to see before it the road along which it could 
lead the country as rapidly as possible to a happy 
and honourable peace. 


The only Government that could be a sure guide to 
satisfactory peace was one that, by means of a wise 
home policy, had under complete control all the various 
elements, classes, members and parties of the entire 

That it was particularly difficult to concentrate into 
one dynamic entity the variety of opinions, wishes and 
impulses of a people so inclined to internal differences 
and quarrels as the Germans is quite true. The sense 
of nationality that, in such countries as England and 
France, fused all parties into a single will for the 
whole duration of the war, unfortunately underwent 
manifest disintegration among us Germans by reason 
of the multiplicity of party views which soon began to 
be active, and through which the idea of a party truce 
was undermined and our vigour of attack weakened. 
Nor was it, by any means, only among the parties of 
the left that such sins were committed against the 
great idea of unselfish patriotism. By leaving to the 
war-speculator unlimited independence and unbounded 
opportunities of profit and by not organizing properly 
the industries essential to the existence of the struggling 
State, our mistaken economic policy was responsible 
for the early reappearance of the old social and econo- 
mic animosities, which soon became very bitter. 
Moreover, an absolutely morbid tendency to a mistaken 
objectivity at all costs repeatedly drove a large section of 
our German people, even during the war, into extensive 
discussions and to self-examination that bordered 
upon mental penance. This was done openly be- 
fore the whole world, and ultimately made the world 


believe that the conscientious amongst us doubted the 
justice of our deeds and aims. In England, all parties 
had only one principle for every programme and 
every action of their Government, the strong principle 
of a firmly-established nation, the principle of " right 
or wrong my country." 

A miserable hero of such mistaken objectivity, a man 
in whose heart the bright flame of the greater idea 
could never blaze up, was the first War Chancellor. 
His Reichstag declaration on August 4, 1914, concerning 
our advance into Belgium, is the great and bitter 
classic example of his incapacity to understand either 
the soul of his own people or the mentality of our 
adversaries. On that 4th of August, 1914, before a 
single shot had been fired over yonder, we Germans had 
lost the first great battle in the eyes of the world. 

And blind he remained to all the events and develop- 
ments around him throughout the long years of the 
war during which we had to put up with him. 

Thus, he stressed again and again the special merits, 
as he called them, of the social-democratic party in 
offering to co-operate at the outset of the war. As 
though, at that time, the working masses would not 
simply have swept away their leaders if they had dared 
to pronounce against co-operation ! At that moment 
the entire German people were unanimous in their 
deep conviction that we were entering upon a war 
forced upon us, an unavoidable war from which we 
could find deliverance only by resolutely and victor- 
iously struggling through to an assured peace. That 
many a leader of the extreme left never, in his heart 
of hearts, desired a complete German, victory, seems 
to have remained long hidden from the Chancellor's 
perception. At any rate, he did nothing to combat their 
efforts to undermine the confidence of the masses in 
the German cause. 


General Ludendorff complains bitterly in his war 
memoirs that the Government at home did scarcely 
anything to keep alive the " will to victory " in the 
German people, or to combat energetically the tendency 
to defaitisme. I, too, could not resist the impression 
that, during the war, the proper authorities permitted 
these tendencies to grow without adopting energetic 
counter-measures. Defaitisme, which, regardless of 
every other consideration, was rigorously crushed in 
France, England and America, as a principle adverse to 
the necessities of the hour and opposed to the interests 
of the State, was allowed to run riot with us. Our 
Government were powerless to cope with it, yet believed 
themselves able to silence and neutralize anti-national 
conduct by weakly indulgence. Nervelessly they let 
things take their course, seemingly reluctant to 
picture to themselves the fatal end to which, sooner 
or later, it all must lead. 

Wherever difficulties and impediments arose, recourse 
was had to small remedies, to half -measures, to extrav- 
agant concessions flung down with both hands or to 
a hesitating and belated compliance. They made 
shift with patchwork until no more patching was 
possible and everything fell to pieces. Civil dictators, 
conscious of their path and with eyes fixed on victory, 
like Clemenceau and Lloyd George, were altogether 
wanting among us. The longer the war lasted, the more 
autocratic and severe became the government of the 
hostile countries and the more vacillating and yielding 
our own. The munition workers at home were granted 
fabulous wages to keep them in a good temper. The 
only effect was that their cupidity was increased, a 
higher premium put upon shirking, the soldier at the 
front irritated and deprived of his willingness to 
fight. Why was not every calling of importance to 
the war made compulsory ? Why were not the men 


called up for work at home placed in the same 
category as to wages and rations as those under 
the colours ? People talk ad nauseam of the dutiful 
home warriors! 'War" employer and "war" em- 
ployee ought both to have been swept up by the 
organization of " war ' industry. 

For the organization of industry at home, the Auxili- 
ary Service Act (Hilfsdienstgesetz) was ultimately 
adopted. But it was due to the initiative of the Higher 
Command, whose business it was not ; and when it 
came, what a mutilated thing it was ! 

Irresolute and somewhat unfortunate was likewise 
the attitude of the Government towards the Prussian 
Suffrage question during the war. The Social Demo- 
crats, making a watchword of the idea, carried on a 
vigorous propaganda and while our armies were 
engaged in the severest struggles and their welfare 
depended upon the smooth working of the industrial 
mechanism at home even did not hesitate to throw 
out threats of a strike. 

Two courses were open to the Government. One 
was to say that war time was unsuitable for dealing 
with changes of the constitution, especially as the 
best part of the people were then under arms at the 
front and consequently unable to take part in the 
reorganization ; but then they would have had to 
pull themselves together and ruthlessly repress every 
agitation aimed in a different direction. The other 
course was for the Government to decide upon a 
revision of the Suffrage Act, but in that case they 
ought not to have hesitated to arrange for a speedy 
dissolution of the House of Deputies, and should 
have resorted to every possible means to carry out 
their purpose. 

The Government once more adopted the fatal 
method of half-measures. 


When His Excellency von Valentin!, the chef du 
cabinet civil, brought me the so-called " Easter mes- 
sage " in 1917, I expressed to him my astonishment at 
this patchwork, and pointed out to him that such a 
decree would satisfy nobody, that the Government 
would before long be forced to grant direct suffrage 
and it would be better to do it straight away as a 
spontaneous act of His Majesty. Valentini replied : 
' The direct secret ballot is out of the question ; what 
is proposed is a plurality vote similar to the Belgian 
arrangement." Count von der Schulenburg, Chief of 
the General Staff of my army, was present at this 

August, 1920. 

Since I last had these sheets in my hand, our parents 
and we children have suffered a heavy blow : my 
brother Joachim, utterly broken down, has passed 
out of this life. Immediately on receipt of the news, 
I travelled to Doom, in order to be with my mother 
in, at any rate, the first and severest hours of her 
sorrow. What a mountain of suffering destiny has 
heaped upon our poor ailing mother's heart ! 

At the beginning of the month, my brother Oscar, 
who had arrived at Doom just after me, came to see 
me here in the island. Eitel Friedrich was also 
here ; and so, little by little, they are all making 
acquaintance with the small plot of earth on which I 
have lived for over twenty months. I can imagine that, 
when they happen to have good weather here for their 
short stay, the place will not seem so very dreadful 
to them. It was a great pleasure to me to receive a 
visit from my old and trusted Maltzahn, who, when 
he came to see us at the front, shared with me many 
an anxiety concerning our internal situation. At the 
end of the month my wife is to come here again this 
time with all four boys. 


In these personal recollections of mine, I feel impelled 
to say a few words about the two men whose names 
enshrine, for the whole German people, their idea of 
military leadership, namely Field-Marshal von Hin- 
denburg and his First Quartermaster-General, General 

It is superfluous to say much here of what our 
country owes to these two men. Suffice it to call to 
mind the great victories at Tannenberg and at the 
Masurian Lakes. At that time, the names of these 
two were in everybody's mouth, and both at home and 
at the front arose the wish that the leadership of the 
entire German army might be placed in their hands. 
We commanders-in-chief shared fully this general 
desire to see Hindenburg and Ludendorff in the most 
responsible positions, and we received, with joy and 
hope, the ultimate decision of His Majesty to place 
them there. Never have I seen any other two men of 
such different character furnish the exact complement 
of one another so as to form one single entity as did 
these two. In all questions that arose during their 
period of co-operation, the weal of the Fatherland 
and the happiness and honour of the army were, for 
them, the common basis for their deliberations, their 
plans and their resolutions. 

If I were to describe the Field-Marshal General 
as he appeared to me in the years of his zenith, I 
would say that the greatest impression was made above 
all by the simple energy and composure of his reserved 
personality. It was a composure that communicated 
itself to every one who came into contact with him, 
convinced every one that the fate of the armies was 
safe in that calm firm hand, watched over by those 
earnest and yet ever-friendly eyes. If he spoke, the 
effect was heightened : one was then impressed not 
merely by the statuesqueness of his tall, broad- 


shouldered figure, but by the depth and timbre of 
his voice and the easy flow of his measured, thought- 
ful, and deliberate speech ; the conviction was con- 
firmed that the speaker was absolute master of the 
situation and expressed views that could be thor- 
oughly relied on. 

This feeling was not confined to the individual 
addressed, it extended to the masses when the Field- 
Marshal General appeared before them. Furthermore, 
a scarcely definable peculiarity of manner seemed to 
efface the dividing line between his professional and 
his human interest in people, problems and things. 

The great and emancipating victories in the East 
were soon invested with almost mythical features ; with 
these as a background, Hindenburg's personality be- 
came, for the nation and the army, a symbol of German 
victory and of rescue from the exigencies of war. That 
unrevealed something which has its roots to a great 
extent in the judgment of the heart and the feelings, 
which creates the hero for the multitude and which 
never appeared in such men as Falkenhayn or Luden- 
dorff, soon fashioned a halo about Hindenburg and made 
him the ideal leader in the eyes of the Germans. At 
home and at the front, I have heard this confidence, so 
touching in its primitive simplicity, expressed over 
and over again in the words : " Our old Hindenburg'll 
manage it " ; the utterance was, as it were, a refuge 
from -the pressure of the time, and remained so later, 
when, for us leaders, who had long since been stripped 
of our optimism by our knowledge of the true state of 
affairs, the only reply possible was dead silence. 

Even more now than during the war, there is a 
very widespread belief that, as Field-Marshal General, 
Hindenburg played little more than a decorative part 
beside General Ludendorff, who has been regarded as 
the real spiritus rector of the Higher Command. My 


insight into the admirable relations between these two 
leaders fully justifies me in characterizing such a view 
as mistaken ; in no case could it be said of the era in 
which the Field-Marshal General was in unimpaired 
enjoyment of his physical strength and energy. That 
even a Hindenburg who, though in full possession of 
his mental and bodily vigour, was nearly sixty-seven 
years old when he entered the campaign could not 
help feeling the effects of his increasing age after three 
or four years of excessive work, worry and respon- 
sibility, may be safely asserted without fear of detract- 
ing in any way from the imperishable services of this 
venerable commander and estimable man. As, in the 
course of time, some relief became necessary, the 
indefatigable energy of the so much younger friend and 
close collaborator took over a portion of the burden ; 
and their admirable unity remained a strong and 
resolute will without any bargaining about the intel- 
lectual share of each. How much aid Hindenburg 
received from his comrade became bitterly evident 
when the unity was broken by the retirement of Luden- 
dorff, and his place was filled by one whose inade- 
quacy despaired all too soon at the thought of keeping 
the leaky ship above water and bringing it safely to 
port through all storms and with its old flag still 
flying. The character of this new man was such that 
he struck the flag with an indifferent shrug just as 
coolly as he flung away as empty " ideas " the things 
that till then had been sacred to the German people ; 
the energies of the same successor, exerted in a different 
direction, became the strongest forces shaping the 
peculiar development of the events of November 9 in 
the Great Head-quarters at Spa. 

Owing to the nature of my tasks and duties, I came 
much more into contact with General Ludendorff than 
with the Field-Marshal General. I can conscientiously 


say that I always felt a strong sense of being in the 
presence of a personality of steely energy and keenly 
sharpened intellect, of a Prussian leader of the tra- 
ditional glorious type in the best sense of the term. In 
his bright office-room, in which were focused the rays 
from every front of the foe-girt Fatherland, I have, on 
countless occasions, discussed with him the questions 
and problems of the war and especially the situation of 
my own troops. Whereas, on the one hand, in talks 
with the Field-Marshal General, one felt, as I have 
already hinted, that his grave and easy speech was 
the outcome of the deepest assurance, on the other 
hand one seemed, in conversation with GeneralLuden- 
dorff, to be in the glittering workshop where only 
the greatest mental wrestling succeeded in regaining 
this assurance from day to day by an unceasing 
struggle with untold antagonisms, hostile principles, 
obstacles, difficulties and shortcomings of every kind. 
It has already been stated that this mass of affairs 
brought before him for settlement tasks and problems 
which did not properly belong within the traditional 
scope of his post. He took them upon himself be- 
cause their solution was of the greatest significance 
for the military situation, and because without his 
intervention they would have remained undealt with. 
Successful and deserving of thanks as many of his 
performances in these domains that lay outside his 
own proper sphere certainly appear to me, still, I 
believe I may say, without in any way giving a 
wrong impression of his strong personality, that 
his essential importance and greatness lay in the 
provinces of strategy, tactics and organization. In 
these fields and so long as the troops and material 
lay intact in his hands, his brilliant mastery of 
the whole theory of war, his wealth of ideas and 
marvellously exact intellect, solved with the most 


astounding certainty military problems of the most 
difficult character and won for him and for the 
German arms imperishable fame. His keen and 
complete analysis of a situation, his unfailing con- 
version of theory into command and act, his accurate 
knowledge of the value of the forces employed, 
with which he could reckon as though they were 
invariable mathematical quantities all these things 
contributed to win for him the great victories at 
Tannenberg, Lodz and the Masurian Lakes. After- 
wards, when he had taken over the gigantic tasks of 
the Higher Command, they secured him successes of 
imperishable strategic significance during the struggle 
for the German Line down to the spring of 1918 
successes whose lustre is perhaps still dimmed by the 
lack of ultimate effect and the shadow of the mis- 
carriage in the final combat, but which the just verdict 
of the future will unquestionably range with the 
greatest military performances of all time. 

His great and bold ideas were only impaired when 
the units which he fitted into his structure were no 
longer capable of satisfying the demands which, accord- 
ing to tradition, he believed himself justified in making 
upon the troops when the normally accepted fighting 
value of the units had been too much exposed to 
physical and psychic trials, and thus the uncertainty 
and brittleness of the material introduced factors of 
error, which rendered it impossible to make exact 
calculations as to the capabilities of the machine. 

The successful designer of battles and calculator of 
victories, who, ever since he led his first men as a little 
lieutenant, had been accustomed to regard the con- 
cepts of discipline, punctuality and fighting courage 
as things of iron-like rigidity, the practised strategist, 
who, ever since he first donned red-striped trousers as 
a young officer of the General Staff, had combined with 


the idea of a battery or a division definite striking values 
and calculable effects, now suddenly saw himself com- 
pelled to query all these notions. Enterprises which, 
assuming the reliability of the individual factors, 
held every promise of success, broke down in the 
execution because the machine, partly overstrained 
and partly rusty, failed to perform its task. The last 
German attacks, i.e. from March 21, 1918, down to the 
decisive turning-point of the war the irruption of the 
enemy at the Forest of Villers-Cotterets on July 18 
were, notwithstanding some brilliant initial suc- 
cesses, nothing but a series of bitter examples of this 

Both as a man and as a soldier, General Ludendorff 
suffered severely under these conditions and bore them 
with a heavy heart. Like, doubtless, every other com- 
mander, I sympathized with him in this torture. All 
of us, who had passed through the iron school of the 
grand old army and had breathed the air of the Military 
Academy in Konigsplatz, had been equipped in that 
famous building with the firmest confidence in the un- 
flinchingness of the great army which was the embodi- 
ment of the strength and pride of the German people ; 
and this palladium we now saw tottering. 

For my part, I had, at an early period, been unable 
to shut my eyes to these cracks, rents and flaws ; and 
I dutifully laid my observations and suggestions before 
the Quartermaster-General. Even yet, when I recall 
those conversations, I am filled with gratitude by the 
remembrance of the friendliness and attention with 
which General Ludendorff listened to the views and 
wishes of one so much younger than himself and did 
all he could to meet the demands which he recognized 
as justified. 

It is true that, especially in the later period of our 
increasing exhaustion of man-power, food-stuffs and 


war-material, he was only too often obliged, with a 
resigned ultra posse, to decline what he would certainly 
have gladly conceded had he been able. As I learned 
to know him in years of mutual labour for the same end, 
General Ludendorff was never a dazzler or a " thrust er." 
To his upright and stern soldierly character it would be 
as alien to seek the favour of individuals or to fear their 
disfavour as it would be to court the approval or dread 
the disapproval of the masses. For his decisions he 
knew only one criterion ; that was their practical fit- 
ness for the attainment of his great aim ; and that 
one aim was to carry the Central Powers and especially 
Germany out of the war into a firm peace which would 
leave us room and light for our further natural develop- 
ment. With absolutely passionate devotion and 
creative energy, he threw the whole of his abundant 
personality unreservedly into the accomplishment of 
his military tasks, never seeing in this immense self- 
sacrifice anything more than the fulfilment of the 
obvious duty owed to the Fatherland by every German, 
whether civilian or soldier. This admirable and 
robust conception of duty and of unflinching persever- 
ance, coupled with a high estimate of the inherent moral 
worth of the German at the front and the German at 
home, inclined him, particularly in the last periods of 
the war, to assume and presuppose such vigour and 
virtue as a reliable basis for military operations and 
for demands upon the homeland, even when privations 
and disappointments as well as disintegrating influences 
and anti-moral forces had already enfeebled and 
corroded the original soundness. Filled by the 
strongest sense of national honour, he found it bitter 
to have to believe in the decay of this vigorous moral 
stamina of the German people, when no eye could any 
longer remain closed to the painful fact. For a long time 
he refused to recognize the reality of the situation, and 


strove to preserve within himself the proud image of 
the German immutably true to Kaiser and empire. 
This high estimation of the masses caused him for 
a long time to regard the disintegrating forces as 
merely pernicious, exceptional phenomena ; it was also, 
perhaps, the ultimate reason of his attention being 
turned so late to the agitators and their victims too 
late, indeed, for any energetic action to be taken. In 
regard to the moral fighting value and physical capacity 
of the troops, which constituted the most important 
factors in calculating the chances of an early and fortu- 
nate conclusion of the war, our views differed more and 
more as time went on, and the difference became very 
wide in the latter half of the war. Neither would I con- 
ceal my opinion that in the choice of his immediate 
co-operators, General Ludendorff was not always 
happy, nor always open to representations as to the 
incompetence of such individuals, or willing to consider 
statements that ran counter to their reports. Severe 
views of fidelity towards painstaking subordinates who 
gave him the best assistance of which they were 
capable induced him to leave posts inadequately filled 
for a longer time than was consistent with the best 
interests of public affairs. 

While anything but an uncritical upholder of Gen- 
eral Ludendorff's views or a mute admirer of all his 
acts, I nevertheless account him to be a surpassingly 
great German commander, characterized by the strong- 
est patriotic energy and faithfulness a man who 
stood at the head of the German army like a symbol 
of its traditions and of its conscience. For his enemies 
to feature him as a " gambler " and " hasardeur " is to 
circulate an untruth. Would to God that we had had, 
among the political leaders of the realm, experts of 
equal capacity, of the same thorough deliberation and 
equally conscientious daring ; would to God it had 


remained possible for each and every individual to turn 
to good account all his energies in the sphere of his 
own most special calling. 

In the chapter on Rome, in Count York von Warten- 
burg's Weltgeschichte in Umrissen, which I have recently 
been reading, I came across a passage the other day 
concerning the Battle of Cannae and steadfastness in 
defeat which has imprinted itself upon my memory as 
particularly applicable to our own times. Referring to 
epochs subsequent to the days of Rome, York speaks of 
the disgraceful manner in which the Prussian people 
heaped contempt and contumely upon the army for 
having suffered defeat at Jena, when " it was neither 
the only culprit nor even the principal one." Further 
he says : '" If a people desires victoriously to survive 
a Cannae, it must never dare to lose its regard com- 
pletely for its leaders and its standard." 

From the bottom of my heart I long for the resur- 
rection and the new greatness of our German father- 
land and its people. But only when the vast multitude, 
now blinded by the ranting agitation of false prophets, 
has recovered its vision for past greatness, will it be 
able to understand and appreciate the old that was 
and to labour indomitably for the new that is some 
day to be. 



October, 1920. 

AT the beginning of the month I spent a few days on 
the mainland. I had to visit a dentist in Overveen 
named Schaefer. I could never have believed it pos- 
sible for anyone to enjoy so much the modest little 
pleasures a dentist can provide with all his small in- 
struments of torture. I felt thoroughly comfortable as 
I leaned back in his swivel-chair a rather different kind 
of furniture from our Wieringen appointments. The 
trip was the first interruption for a long time to the 
persistent quiet and solitude of the island ; and just 
at present, when the advance of autumn is robbing 
the drab landscape of its last few charms and the 
equinoctial gales are beginning to rage, it helped me to 
surmount the prospect of another long, hard and sombre 
winter in this seclusion and in the restricted accommoda- 
tion of this little dwelling, so far from my home and 
my loved ones. Moreover, in Schaefer's delightful 
little villa near Haarlem, we found high-minded, 
amiable and well-educated people whose hospitality 
it was a pleasure to enjoy. On the way back, we called 
at Burgomaster Peereboom's and spent an hour or 
two with that old friend, who now lives at Bergen, 
his place at Wieringen having been taken by the 
equally excellent and ever-helpful Mr. Kolff. This 
new burgomaster and his wife, who is of German 



origin, do everything in their power to render my life 
more bearable. 

Among the letters from home that awaited me on 
my return was one from a war-comrade. It spoke of a 
hundred matters, and touched upon the silly twaddle 
that is circulating among those who are better 
informed than anybody else in the world about my 
conduct as commander of the Fifth Army. So, then, 
I am said to be answerable for the disastrous retreat 
ordered by the Higher Command after the Battle of 
the Marne in the year 1914. These excessively clever 
people know that with unerring certainty. Perhaps, 
therefore, it will not altogether be out of place if I 
state what I know of this battle that formed the 
turning-point of our destiny more particularly since 
what has so far been said on the subject by serious 
and critical observers tells very little concerning the 
doings of the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Armies. 

What I intend to write here is not a description of the 
military developments and the operations of my Fifth 
Army in those bitter days ; for that I have made other 
arrangements ; I propose here only to sketch in broad 
outline the circumstances which, at that time, led the 
German army to desist from its victorious advance and 
to start a tragic retreat. The blame mine ? Only mean 
malice could invent such an idea, only unbounded 
stupidity could believe it ! 

As commander-in-chief of the Fifth Army, I led my 
army in the advance of August, 1914 ; I saw the 
decisions and notices that were issued, and was present 
at the scanty discussions with the General Higher 
Command and with the adjacent armies ; finally, I 
had the best of opportunities to watch and study hour 
by hour the development of affairs during the Battle 


of the Marne. My impression is that it was an un- 
fortunate combination of many circumstances that 
led to this pernicious result. Besides the unquestion- 
able incompetence and the consequent moral and 
physical collapse of General von Moltke, there was 
the unfortunate and rapidly discouraged leadership 
of the Second Army by General von Billow and the 
absolutely disastrous doings of an officer of the Head- 
quarters Staff, who, oppressed by a sense of respon- 
sibility and personal pessimism, assumed a verbal 
order given to meet a particular emergency as con- 
ferring full powers upon him, and so occasioned a 
retreat of the two victorious armies on the wings 
before a decision had been reached. 

Whenever I think of the senseless and incompre- 
hensible flinging away of the successes gained at that 
time, whenever all the horror of that insensate folly 
comes before me, I see the tragic figure of a man who 
ought to have led, but who was no leader and who broke 
down when the rising pressure of events broke down 
the traditional scheme : that figure is the figure of Lieu- 
tenant-General von Moltke. I knew the general well, 
I sincerely revered him as a man and I feel deeply the 
tragedy of a fate which, in its purely human features, 
seems to me to have a certain intrinsic resemblance to 
the fate of the unfortunate Austrian, Benedik. General 
Moltke was a thoroughly high-minded man and a 
devoted friend of my father's. When, on the urgent 
recommendation of his most intimate advisers, the 
Kaiser in 1906 called him to the chief position in the 
General Staff, von Moltke earnestly begged His Majesty 
to excuse him, as he did not feel competent to fill the 
post. When, however, the Kaiser insisted upon his 
decision, the Prussian officer obeyed. He subsequently 
endeavoured, with inexhaustible diligence, to master the 


enormous detail of the work of the General Staff. There 
was something shy in his character ; he seemed occasion- 
ally to have but little confidence in himself, and so he 
soon became totally dependent upon his collaborators. 
The great personal amiability and ardent human cordi- 
ality which he possessed made it difficult for him to gain 
that authority which is so essential to the Chief of a 
General Staff. During my service with that staff, it 
was mentioned to me as typical that even the quarter- 
masters-general used to report to the old and inexor- 
able Schlieffen with a certain feeling of nervousness, 
whereas everybody liked appearing before General von 

General von Moltke was never robust. When the 
war broke out, he had just completed two drastic 
cures at Carlsbad. He entered the war as a sick man. 
The direction of the various armies by the Chief of the 
General Staff was a very loose one. His head-quarters 
in Luxembourg were much too far distant from the 
scene of battle ; and, at such a distance, he could not 
follow events with the necessary accuracy could not 
supervise them with the necessary clearness ; possibly, 
too, the eye for the essential and the requisite rapidity of 
resolve failed him at the crucial moments of the battle. 
In any case, the great imperfections of means of com- 
munication at that time gave rise to difficulties, so that 
there was occasionally a complete lack of connection 
with the advancing army. This destroyed the unity of 
leadership ; ultimately, the armies, when they had once 
started their advance and knew their allotted path, 
waged war more or less independently, each com- 
municating with its neighbour as occasion required. 
Immediately after the Battle of Longwy, I was called 
to the Great Head-quarters in Luxembourg. I took 
the opportunity of talking quite unequivocally with 
Moltke's right-hand man, Lieutenant-Colonel Tappen, 


concerning the loose control of the armies by the 
Higher Command, and I demanded the appointment 
of permanent liaison officers between the General 
Higher Command and the Higher Command of each 
army. The proposal was smilingly shelved with the 
remark that no change was necessary, as everything 
was working excellently as it was. 

When the situation of the First and Second Armies 
became acute, the Chief of the General Staff sent Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Hentsch as intelligence officer of the 
General Higher Command on a tour of inspection to the 
Higher Command in each army. As General von Kuhl 
once told me, the decision as to the course the battle 
was to take was laid in his hands. 

At the beginning of his round, Hentsch appeared first 
at Varennes in the Higher Command of the Fifth Army 
on the afternoon of September 8. He gave us a sketch 
of the entire situation as far as it was known in Luxem- 
bourg. For a cool and impartial judge, these details 
constituted anything but an unsatisfactory picture, 
although indeed it was clear that the hitherto rapid 
and victorious advance had come to a standstill. On 
leaving us, Hentsch proceeded along the whole front to 
obtain a personal opinion concerning the Fourth, Third, 
Second and First Armies. Here began the unfortunate 
influences at which I have already hinted. Quite 
possibly, Hentsch really did receive some very bad 
impressions, especially from the Higher Command of 
the Second Army ; maybe his nerves gave way ; at any 
rate, instead of encouraging the Higher Command of 
the Second Army to unflinching resistance, he agreed to 
their retreating. The description which he gave of 
the dissolution of the Second Army and the use made of 
his supposed authority to order the retreat of the armies 
ultimately induced the First Army to fall back upon 
Soissons, though it did so with great reluctance and 


only because it had itself lost direct touch with the 
Second Army. 

In these critical days of Hentsch activity, my Higher 
Command attacked without success along the line Va- 
vincourt Rembercourt Beauzee and St. Andre, and 
prepared a night attack for September 10, whose object 
was to procure us more freedom of action, since we were 
closely confined between Verdun and the trackless 
Argonne region. The General Higher Command, which 
had manifestly been more and more disquieted by 
Hentsch's reports, at first disapproved of this plan 
for a night attack, in which the XHIth Army Corps 
(with the I2th Cavalry Division) and the XVIth Army 
Corps were to participate ; however, after repeated 
representations had been made, permission was finally 

The attempt was therefore promptly undertaken and 
succeeded brilliantly. The army gained the line 
Louppy le Petit to the east of the Rembercourt 
heights and the north-east of Courcelles-Souilly ; 
Sarrail's army giving way to the extent of about twenty 

On this day, September 10, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Hentsch returned via Varennes from his tour. Since 
he had first visited us, his view of the general situation 
had become pronouncedly pessimistic. He expressed 
himself hopeless as to the condition of the right wing, 
and demanded from me the immediate withdrawal of 
the Fifth Army. From his description, the First and 
Second Armies were now only fleeing remnants ; the 
Third Army was maintaining itself with difficulty ; the 
Fourth was in passable order. 

I told Lieutenant-Colonel Hentsch that an immediate 
retreat of the Fifth Army was out of the question, since 
neither the general situation nor the position of the 
army mperatively called for it ; further, that before 




S S 


the idea could be even entertained, the removal of all 
my wounded from the territory just gained would have 
to be assured. As Hentsch, despite these objections, 
became importunate, I asked him for his authority 
in writing. He could produce none ; and I thereupon 
informed him that we were not in a position to com- 
ply with his wishes. 

With the retreat from the Marne, Schlieffen's great 
plan was frustrated. It was based on the rapid sub- 
jection of France. I shall never forget the terrible im- 
pression made upon me on September n by the sudden 
appearance in my Varennes and Argonne Head-quar- 
ters of General von Moltke accompanied by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Tappen. The general was completely broken 
down, and was literally struggling to repress his tears. 
According to his impressions, the entire German army 
had been defeated and was being rapidly and unceas- 
ingly rolled back. He explained that he did not 
yet know where this retreat could be brought to a 
standstill. How he had formed such a senseless 
conception was for us, at that time, beyond com- 

He was astonished at the calm and confident view 
of the situation taken by the Higher Command of the 
5th Army. But he was not to be converted to a more 
optimistic opinion, and he demanded as Hentsch 
had done the day before the instant withdrawal of 
my army. As no imperative reasons for such a hasty 
step were even now perceptible, a lively controversy 
ensued which ended in my declaring that so long as I 
was Commander-in-Chief of my army I bore the 
responsibility for that army and that I could not agree 
to an immediate withdrawal on account of the neces- 
sary removal and proper transport of my wounded. 
With tears in his eyes, General von Moltke left us. 
From a human standpoint, I felt the deepest sympathy 


with the utterly crushed man, but, as a soldier and 
leader, I was unable to understand such a physical 

During the afternoon of September n, Colonel von 
Dommes brought me the further instructions of the 
General High Command. My army was to fall back 
to the district east of St. Menehould. The colonel 
suggested retaining the southern edge of the Forest of 
Argonne. The Higher Command of the Fifth Army 
decided, however, to go as far back northwards as 
the line Apremont Baulny Montfaucon Gercourt, 
since it did not appear advisable to remain in a more 
advanced position than that of the rest of the army 
(already retreating in compliance with the orders 
of the General Higher Command), especially as the 
liberated enemy forces were now in a position to 
advance from Verdun in any desired direction and 
thus threaten, not only the communications of the 
Fifth Army, but also those of the entire western army. 

Only after the removal of all its wounded did the Fifth 
Army withdraw. The retreat was carried out in perfect 
order from the I2th to the I5th of September and 
the new positions were taken up with a strong sense 
of superiority. There was no molestation on the part 
of the enemy ; Sarrail did not dare to attack us ; and 
if he had, it would have been a bad thing for him. From 
the heights just to the north of Varennes, I watched the 
rear of the XHIth and XVI th corps leave their trenches, 
and I can assert that, save for some cavalry patrols, 
no enemy forces followed our troops anywhere. 

In the course of the war I had the opportunity of 
talking over the fatal incidents of the first Battle of the 
Marne with hundreds of officers of all grades and 
with hundreds of the rank and file. What I heard 
was always the same : we had completely repulsed 
the French counter-attacks and had ourselves success- 


fully attacked again, when the incomprehensible orders 
to retreat arrived. 

My brother Eitel Fritz commanded at that time 
the First Regiment of Guards. Later on, he described 
the day to me with honest wrath. " We were in full 
assault upon the French position," he said, " after 
having repulsed various French counter-attacks. Our 
men were, it is true, very fatigued ; but they advanced 
courageously and determinedly. Everywhere the 
French were to be seen in full flight. We had victory 
in our hands, when suddenly an orderly officer appeared 
with that damned order to stop the attack at once 
and start the march back." He told me that it was 
the most agonizing experience of his life to have to 
go back with his brave men over the road that they had 
won with such a severe struggle and to see the wounded, 
who were now certain to fall into captivity. Our 
famous grenadiers refused to believe it all and kept on 
asking : ' Why must we fall back ? We have beaten 
the French ! " 

And they were right. The German army was not 
defeated at the Marne ; it was withdrawn by its leaders. 
The battle was lost because the Highest Command 
gave it up as lost ; in spite of the numerical superiority 
of the enemy in the ratio of two to one that Highest 
Command might have led its armies to victory, if it 
had clearly perceived the situation and had acted 
adequately and resolutely. 

It is not wisdom after the event, but the expression of 
a view borne in upon me at the time, when I say that, 
by a vigorous concentration of our right wing for united 
action and by strengthening it with easily available 
reinforcements from the left wing, a dispersal of the 
threatening danger might have been achieved without 
any serious difficulty. 

General von Moltke I saw only once afterwards. It 


was in the Head-quarters at Charleville. He had 
already been removed from his command ; I found 
him aged by years ; he was poring over the maps in 
a little room of the prefecture a bent and broken 
man. It was a most touching sight ; words seemed 
impossible and out of place ; a pressure of the hand 
said all that I could say. 

I was told later, on credible authority, that the 
unfortunate man sank into a morbid search after 
the reasons for his evil fate, that he tried to discover 
exonerations and justifications for his failure and lost 
himself in all kinds of barren mysticism. 

In the end he died at Berlin of a broken heart. 
With him passed away a real Prussian officer and a 
high-minded nobleman. That he was faced with a 
task that was beyond his capacity, that, with a mis- 
taken sense of duty, he undertook it against his will 
and with a consciousness of his own inadequacy, 
proved fatal to him and to us. 

End of October, 1920. 

In this second half of this month, I have been over 
to the mainland again. It was on the 22nd, the anni- 
versary of my mother's birthday. They were quiet, 
sad days in Doom ; for it cannot escape the eye of 
anyone who loves her that my mother's strength is 
declining, that sorrow is eating her up. The wound 
made in her maternal heart by the death of my brother 
Joachim has never healed ; he was the weakest of us 
boys and claimed a greater share of her motherly care. 

On the birthday itself she had to keep her bed. 
I could only sit beside her, hold in mine her hand 
that had grown so fleshless, and talk to her. I told 
her a number of amusing and harmless little anecdotes 
about my island household ; and it was a pleasure to 
see a faint smile light up her kind features every 


now and then ; but it was only a short flicker of 
sunshine, that was gone again almost instantly. And 
when she is up and walks through the rooms and 
her tired eyes wander caressingly over all the old 
furniture and mementoes of her Berlin and Potsdam 
days, it is as though she were bidding them all a 
silent farewell. 

My uncle, Prince Henry, was also at Doom, and came 
over to Wieringen for a day on his way back. 

Miildner is to make another trip home in November 
to hear and see how things stand. These journeys 
of his make me feel like Father Noah, " who sent forth 
a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from 
off the face of the ground." When will he return with 
the olive branch? 

Our old friend, the ever faithful and helpful Jena, is 
to take his place while he is gone, and to keep me 
my two dogs and my cat company. .5? 

A few weeks ago I endeavoured, in these sheets, to 
refute the silly twaddle which connects my name with 
our failure at the Battle of the Marne. I should like 
now to explode a second fable. 

Among the many untruths disseminated about me 
by spite or stupidity, is the assertion that I am answer- 
able for the losses at Verdun and the ultimate failure 
there. The persistence with which this legend crops 
up again and again makes an explanation of the facts 

The order to attack Verdun naturally did not proceed 
from me : it originated in a decision of the General 
Higher Command. This decision and the General 
Higher Command's reasons for the enterprise find 
expression in a report to the Kaiser by General von 
Falkenhayn, as head of the commander-in-chief's 


General Staff, at Christmas, 1915. This report con- 
tains the following passage : " Behind the French 
section of the western front, there are, within range, 
objects for whose retention the French are com- 
pelled to risk their last man. If they do so, the 
French forces, since there is no option, will be bled 
white, whether we reach our objective or not. If 
the French do not risk everything, and the objective 
falls into our hands, the moral effects upon France 
will be enormous. For this local operation, Germany 
will not be forced seriously to expose her other fronts. 
She can confidently face the diversion attacks to be 
expected at other points, nay, she may hope to spare 
troops enough to meet them with counter-attacks." 
Soon afterwards, the General Higher Command issued 
orders for the advance on Verdun. The General 
Higher Command was unquestionably influenced by 
our numerical inferiority and a desire to anticipate an 
expected attack by the enemy with their maximum 
strength at some spot unsuitable to ourselves. British 
organization had by this time become effective ; the 
French had been relieved. In the spring of 1916, 
the enemy troops in the west outnumbered our own 
by more than a million ; according to General von 
Falkenhayn's own figures, the Germans totalled 
2,350,000 against 3,470,000 of the Entente, and we 
were also inferior as regards munitions. 

In judging of the plan, the Higher Command of the 
5th Army took the view that both sides of the Meuse 
must be attacked simultaneously and with powerful 
forces. Such a proceeding was vetoed by the General 
Higher Command. The attack on the east bank 
only was carried out under the direct instructions of 
the General Higher Command ; and it would prob- 
ably have succeeded, but for the intervention of 
untoward circumstances. 


The preparations for the attack had quite escaped 
the notice of the French. The concentration of the 
artillery had not been interfered with in any way ; 
the attacking infantry had suffered scarcely any losses 
in the initial assault. Everything had been brilliantly 
prepared. Then, on the eve of the day originally 
selected for the attack, storms of rain and snow set 
in, which prevented every possibility of the artil- 
lery seeing their objective. From day to day, the 
attack had to be postponed, so that it actually took 
place ten days later than originally arranged. The 
Higher Command of the 5th Army passed an agonizing 
time ; for, as things stood, every hour lost meant a 
diminution of our prospects of speedy success. As 
a matter of fact, in that period of waiting, our purpose 
was betrayed by two miserable rascals of the Landwehr 
who deserted to the French. 

Nevertheless, it was no longer possible for our enemies 
to carry out their counter-measures quickly enough. 
The attack began on February 21, 1916 ; and the huge 
successes of the first three days are well known. The 
infantry of the Illrd and XVIIIth corps, and the 
VHth reserve corps, performed marvels of courage. 
The taking of Fort Douaumont crowned everything. 
Indeed, we should, after all, have succeeded in rushing 
the entire east front of Verdun if the reserves 
promised us had arrived to time. Why they failed 
to do so is not within my knowledge. 

I was told by Captain von Brandis, who stormed 
Fort Douaumont, that, on the fourth day, he had 
observed a complete absence of Frenchmen in the 
whole district of Douaumont Sonville Tavannes. 
But our own troops had exhausted their strength ; 
the weather was horrible, and rations could not every- 
where be brought up as needed. That it would have 
been quite possible to take the entire east front of 


Verdun by pressing the attack without respite is clear 
from the fact that the local leaders of the French had 
already given orders for evacuation. Only later was 
this order countermanded by General Joffre. But, from 
the statements and descriptions which I have recently 
seen in a report by a French officer who fought at 
Verdun, it is evident that on the third day the defence 
of the east front there was actually broken. Moreover, 
the great danger of the position for the French on 
February 24 has been described by General Mangin 
in the Revue des deux Mondes. 

The fatigue of our troops after a tremendous mili- 
tary feat and the lack of reserves despoiled us of the 
prize of victory. I bring no accusation ; I merely 
record the fact. 

From that day onwards, surprises were no longer 
possible ; and the early impetuous advances by storm 
gave place to a gigantic wrestle and struggle for every 
foot of ground. Within a few weeks, I perceived 
clearly that it would not be feasible to break through 
the stubborn defence, and that our own losses would 
ultimately be quite out of proportion to the gains. 
Consequently, I soon did everything in my power to 
put an end to the attacks ; and I repeatedly gave 
expression to my views and the deductions to be drawn 
from them. In this matter I stood somewhat opposed 
to my then chief of staff, General Schmidt von Knob- 
elsdorf , and my representations were at first put aside ; 
the orders ran : " Continue to attack." That, in con- 
sideration of the high moral values attaching to a 
continuance of the enterprise, a contrary opinion had 
to overcome enormous opposition, and that the 
General Higher Command was bound to look at the 
struggle for Verdun from a different standpoint than 
that of the Higher Command of the Fifth Army, must 
be unconditionally conceded. Still, even looked at 


from that superior standpoint, I believe my sugges- 
tions to have been correct. 

When, later on, the situation became so acute that, 
in view of the futility of the sacrifices, I felt unable to 
sanction the continuation of the attack, I reported 
personally to the Kaiser and made written representa- 
tions to the General Higher Command ; whereupon the 
Kaiser adopted my view and gave the desired orders to 
break off the attack. After the resignation, on August 
29, of General Falkenhayn, the head of the Commander- 
in-Chief's General Staff and of the Operations Depart- 
ment, the orders to cease attacking were issued by 
Field-Marshal General von Hindenburg on September 
2, 1916, together with instructions to convert the lines 
that had been reached into a permanent position. 

Regrettable as the final result may be, it should not 
be forgotten that, although the attack on Verdun cost 
us very heavy losses, the French suffered even more than 
ourselves. About seventy-five French divisions were 
battered to pieces in the devil's-cauldron of Verdun. 
Hence, the force of the French onslaught at the Somme 
was very greatly diminished by Verdun ; and it is 
impossible to say what the effects of the Somme 
advance might have been had not the Battle of Verdun 
reduced and weakened the resources of France in men 
and in material. 

I feel that I cannot close my remarks concerning 
my attitude towards the struggle for Verdun without 
a reference to the cowardly and slanderous contumely 
cast upon me during the past two years by those 
German newspapers which prefer to make use of a cheap 
cry rather than allow truth to prevail. 

Even during the last few days, I have read it once 
more : ' The Crown Prince, the laughing murderer of 

Gall and wormwood in the little light left me on this 



island, which, for three hundred out of the three hun- 
dred and sixty-five days of the year, is wrapt in fog 
and storm. 

' The laughing murderer of Verdun ! " So that's 
what I am, is it ? One might almost come to believe 
it true, after hearing the calumny so often. It cuts 
me to the quick, because it concerns what I had saved 
as my last imperishable possession out of the war and 
out of the collapse. It touches the unsullied memories 
of my relations to the troops entrusted to me ; 
it touches the conviction that those men and I under- 
stood and trusted each other, that we had a right to 
believe in one another, because each had given his best 
and done his best. 

What was to be told of Verdun and my part in the 
contest for the fortress I have already told. It remains 
for me to say something about my relations to the 
troops and about my laughter. 

It goes rather against the grain to say much con- 
cerning the former point. I will say only that, 
in the untold fights which took place, I had grown as 
fond of my brave and sturdy troops as though they 
were my own children ; and I did everything in my 
power to ensure them recreation, quiet, rations, care 
and rewards in so far as these were at all possible in 
the hard circumstances of the war. Whenever feasible 
that is, whenever my duties permitted me to leave 
the Higher Command of my group for any length 
of time I joined my fighting troops in the fire-zone 
to see with my own eyes how things stood ; and, 
wherever it could be managed, I personally saw that 
something was done to relieve their hardships. 

In the Argonne it was the same as at Verdun or 
in the chalk pits of Champagne ; and, among the 
many hundreds of thousands who came under my 
command in the course of the terrible war, there can 


be very few indeed who did not see me in their 
sector. Therefore, I can dispense with many words, 
and boldly call upon all my brave officers, non- 
commissioned officers and men of the old Fifth 
Army and my Army Group to testify to my re- 
lations with them. The knowledge that they repaid 
my love with incomparable soldierly qualities, with 
fidelity and with courage, that they were personally 
attached to me, is for me to-day a source of happiness 
that has remained to me out of the past, and that 
no unscrupulous vilifier shall destroy with his men- 
dacious attacks. 

" The Crown Prince, the laughing murderer of 
Verdun ! " So then, now for my laughter ! Indeed 
and indeed, in my youth I was wont to laugh. I 
was never a moper or a lie-by-the-fire. I was fond 
of laughter ; for I found life gay and generous, and 
laughter was for me, as it were, an expression of 
gratitude to destiny for letting me rejoice in my 
strength with freshness, health and faith. 

Even in the war, despite all its bitter trials, I never 
completely lost my capacity for laughter. Every one 
who went through it manfully must have experienced, 
in precisely the most terrible times, the desire to be rid 
of all that unheard-of horror, of all that death and 
destruction, must have felt an almost greedy impulse 
towards every sensation and every assuring expression 
of his life that hangs between the present and the 
undoubtedly better hereafter. And so, at that time 
also, I made no histrionic mask of my face for the benefit 
of the recording public, but showed myself as I was. 

That, even at the time, at home and perhaps behind 
the lines, my laughter aroused adverse censure here and 
there I know perfectly well. " The Crown Prince," 
people said, " always looks happy ; he does not take 
things very seriously." 


Oh, you dear, kind, captious critics, what could you 
know about it ? If I had troubled half as much 
about you then as you did about me, my laughter 
would no doubt have vanished. But I troubled 
myself only about one thing about the men entrusted 
to me, the men who were bearing the brunt of things. 
And if those old warriors of mine, who were then the 
care of my heart and whom Hook back to still in love and 
comrade-like attachment, if they had objected to my 
laughter, then I would admit you people to be in the 
right ! But they understood and thanked me. For 
their sakes I really did many a time laugh and smile 
even when I felt in anything but a laughing mood. 

Pictures of those bitter days rise before me. 

I recall a review of the recruits. Last year's batch 
of young fellows have just completed their training 
and are to leave for the front. Six hundred dear 
bright German lads, scarcely out of their boyhood, 
stand there. They are really stilj. much too young 
for their difficult task. Their bright eyes are turned 
expectantly and feverishly upon me : what is the 
Crown Prince going to say to them ? I feel a lump 
in my throat, and my eyes are inclined to get dim ; 
for I had seen only too many go and too few return, 
and these are scarcely more than children ! Dare I 
let these lads see what is passing within me ? No ! 
I pull myself together and smile ; then I say to 
them : " Comrades, think of our homeland ; it must 
be ; it is hard for me to let you go, but you will accom- 
plish your task. Show yourselves worthy of the 
comrades at the front. God bless you!" And they 
cheer and start confidently on their way. 

A big battle is in progress. Serious reports are 
arriving from the front ; the enemy have penetrated into 
our lines at a dangerous spot. I am sitting in the room 
of my Chief of Staff with the map before me and 


the telephone at my side. We have brought up the 
reserves ; the artillery and the airmen are in action ; 
and we await reports. The telephone rings, and I 
snatch up the receiver. Report from Army Higher 
Command : " The breach has widened, but we hope 
to halt in lines A to B." The weightiest cares press 
upon the Chief of Staff and the Commander-in-Chief . 
There are no more reserves at our disposal ; the last 
man and the last machine-gun have been sent in. 
Now the soldiers must do it by themselves. Will it 
go well ? 

I walk out to step into my car, and motor to the 
neighbourhood of the attack. Hundreds of soldiers 
fill the road ; their inquiring eyes are bent anxiously 
upon me. The difficulties of the situation up at the 
front have got about ; it looks very much like a dis- 
position to panic here. I get up and call out to them : 
" Boys, there is heavy fighting going on, but we shall 
manage it, we must manage it, and you must help 
me ! " I smile at them. They doubtless say to one 
another : " It's a tough job, and it may cost us a 
lot. But he trusts to us, and he keeps a good heart 
himself; it'll be all right." 

And, in place of the ominous silence that met me 
when I came out, loud cheers of encouragement follow 
me as I drive off. 

Another picture. It is after the severe struggle on 
the Chemin des Dames. I drive to a regiment that has 
just returned from the fighting to recuperate for a few 
days on the Bove Ridge. The men have quartered 
themselves in shell-holes and in old French dug- 
outs. I talk with many of them ; they are utterly 
fatigued. In one of the shell-holes a party of cor- 
porals are playing the card-game of skat. I sit down 
with them and add three marks to the pool. Their 
tongues are loosed. They are all thorough-bred Ber- 


liners. Most of them know me. At first they grumble 
at the length of the war, but they add : " Well, we'll 
pull through somehow." Soon, I have to leave for 
other troops. An old fellow stands up a man of 
quite forty-five and holds out his horny hand to 
me saying : " You're our ole Willem, and we shan't 
forget your comin' to see us 'ere ; when we goes back 
to the front, we'll think o' you, and you shan't 'ave 
no cause to complain o' us." A thunder of hurrahs 
echoed over the blood-soaked Chemin des Dames. 

So much for my laughter then ; and I can only confess 
it I am still able to laugh. In spite of all the blows 
of fate, in spite of all vexations, reverses and loneliness, 
I still often feel it welling up in me ; and I thank God 
that He has left me that ! I felt it only yesterday while 
playing with the fisher-children over there in Den 
Oever ; and I felt it the other day while talking with 
the smith's mail. 

December, 1920. 

Miildner has come back. 

How does the passage about Noah run in the Bible ? 
" But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, 
and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters 
were on the face of the whole earth : then he put 
forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto 
him into the ark. 

" And he stayed yet another seven days." 

So there is nothing for it but to take one's heart 
in both hands and to enter the third winter on the 

One great delight I have had : a visit ! My little 
sister has been with me for a few days on her way 
home from Doom. Anyone who could know what 
we have been to one another from childhood (the 
little sister's " big brother " and vice versa) would 


understand and appreciate how much this reunion 
after such a long time meant to us two. 

Scarcely was the little duchess gone, when the 
storms burst across the sea wild and ceaseless by day 
and by night. They almost carried away the roof 
of the parsonage from over our heads. Winter has 
rushed upon us this time in a big attack with a 
sudden fall of the temperature, with snow-blizzards 
and hard frosts and masses of ice in the Zuyder Zee. 
It is worse than even the first bitter winter that we 
spent here two years ago. 

A biting north-easter and driving ice in the sea 
make communication with the mainland almost impos- 
sible. Added to this is a telephone breakdown, so 
that we are quite cut off from the world. 

And the latest news from the sick bed of my mother 
was so very grave that the worst is to be feared. 
When I think of it, there comes to me as it were a 
prayer : " Not now not in days like these." 

By three o'clock, or at the latest by four, it is 
night. Then I seat myself beside the little iron stove 
with the paraffin lamp and my books and papers 
before me. 

When my eyes wander over the bookshelves, I 
think to myself : " What a lot you have read and 
ploughed through in the past two years ! More than 
in all the thirty-six that preceded them." 

During the war, the Higher Command of my 5th 
Army and my Army Group often received visitors 
from the homeland and from neutral countries. Of 
these visits I propose to say something here. 

The German federal princes frequently came to see 
their troops, and I was able thoroughly to discuss, 
with some of them, the whole situation and the position 
of affairs at home ; often enough their warnings were 
directed towards trying to find some possible oppor- 


tunity for an arrangement with the enemy, a view 
which I heartily shared. It is to be regretted that the 
German federal princes were not oftener heard by the 
Imperial Government ; many of them foresaw the 
catastrophe clearly. The federal character of the 
German Realm (so carefully guarded by Bismarck) was 
only too often relegated to the background during 
the last fifteen years of the Empire by reason of the 
excessive centralization at Berlin. People overlooked 
the fact that it was precisely the more local and tribal 
pride of the different States which best helped to 
cement them together into a realm. 

Of the prominent personages who visited me from 
allied and from friendly States I would like to mention 
Enver Pasha, Crown Prince Boris of Bulgaria, Count 
Tisza, Kaiser Karl, and Sven Hedin. Count Ottokar 
Czernin was with me twice. We had some exhaustive 
political talks ; and I received the impression that the 
Count was a high-minded, upright and clever statesman 
who surveyed the actual situation clearly and wished to 
reckon with facts. In the summer of 1917, he came 
to see me at Charleville ; we discussed thoroughly 
the highly critical condition of things, and he was of 
opinion that the Dual Monarchy was on the point 
of exhaustion, that it only kept itself going by means 
of stimulants and that we, also, had passed the zenith 
of our military power. He foresaw the coming 
collapse and wished to prevent it by comprehensive 
and tangible concessions to the enemy. A peace by 
agreement on the basis of surrender and sacrifices on 
the part of the Central Powers was his aim ; and 
his remarks disclose a certain conviction that this aim 
might be achieved provided the necessary steps were 
taken. We ought to relinquish Alsace-Lorraine and to 
find compensation in the east, where the annexation of 
Poland and Galicia to Germany should be worked for. 


Austria, on her part, was prepared, not merely to 
relinquish Galicia, but also to cede the Trentino to 
Italy. Knowing only too well the difficulties of our 
position, I could not turn a deaf ear to his suggestions ; 
but I pointed out to him that any such proposals as 
those he was now putting forward were bound to meet 
with strong opposition in Germany. People at home 
saw our victorious armies standing far advanced 
into enemy territory ; the majority believed thoroughly 
in our chances of success ; they would not be amen- 
able to the idea of giving up old Imperial territory just 
to get peace, just to have kept the defence unbroken. 
Notwithstanding my recognition of these difficulties and 
my utter scepticism concerning the idea of compensa- 
tion in the shape of Poland, I carefully weighed the 
sacrifice required from us by Czernin's scheme against the 
incalculable disaster into which I believed we should glide 
if the war were continued ; and I told the Count that I 
would do all in my power to support his views, especi- 
ally with the leaders of the army. The steps thereupon 
taken by Count Czernin himself failed. The Imperial 
Government seemed to consider the sacrifice expected 
from us to be too great. Unless I am mistaken, 
Bethmann Hollweg appeared particularly scared by the 
problem : " How am I to acquaint the Reichstag and 
the people with the truth ? ' Still less amenable to the 
Count's proposals was the General Higher Command ; 
as General Ludendorff explained, they regarded it as 
incomprehensible, with the armies unbeaten, that 
we should talk of giving up ancient German territory 
which had been so long under foreign domination and 
had been regained with German blood. I give due 
honour to all the arguments put forward by General 
Ludendorff in defence of his standpoint : they are to 
be found in his memoirs, and proceeded from the 
optimistic heart of a fine soldier, not from the mind 


of a cool and judicial statesman. On my side, I 
endeavoured to see the problem in its simplest form, 
namely : " Prestige in the French portions of Alsace 
or the existence of the realm ? ' Hence, I advocated 
an attempt on the lines suggested by Czernin. But 
my sole success was that I was said to have " got 
limp " and to have gone over to the political " bears." 

Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and, at the beginning, 
American military missions were frequently our guests. 
Among them, there was many an excellent and sym- 
pathetic officer. 

Several times, too, German parliamentarians found 
their way to me. There came, for instance, von Heyde- 
brand, Oldenburg- Januschau, Kampf, Schulze-Brom- 
berg, Trimborn, Fischbeck, David, Hermann Miiller. 
With the Majority Socialist, David, I had a long and 
interesting talk in the summer of 1917. Although our 
views, naturally, were anything but identical, we found 
many points of agreement. On my inquiring as to the 
next demands to figure on his party programme, he 
stressed the necessity for an Act to aid the unem- 
ployed. In reply to my objection that it would be 
very difficult to determine, in every case, whether the 
unemployment were really undeserved, he assured 
me that a very rigorous check would be exercised 
so as to exclude all possibility of abuse. When I 
read nowadays of the enormous sums expended by 
the realm and by the municipalities in assisting the 
unemployed, my mind occasionally reverts to that 
talk with " Comrade " David : have David and the 
other fathers of the Act really succeeded in carrying 
into practice their theory of a check to exclude all 
abuse ? I could wish it, but I am inclined to doubt 

After David had left me, I received an account of a 
little incident that happened to him during his journey 


through the war zone, an incident which reveals him 
as a very admirable man. In a small place were 
posted some landwehr men and some columns consist- 
ing mostly of elder men who had ceased to have much 
enthusiasm for the war. They recognized David and 
explained to him that they wanted to go home wanted 
to fight no more. Thereupon the Social Democrat 
David made them a vigorous speech, in which he told 
them that every one had to do his duty, that striking 
in front of the enemy was quite out of the question. 
The speech did not miss its mark. 

In July, 1918, I conversed with Herr von Heyde- 
brand about our situation and our war aims ; and I 
was touched by the optimism with which he regarded 
the future even at that time. He was quite dismayed 
when I disclosed to him the naked truth, when I told 
him that, for a long time, we had been conducting a 
war of desperation on the west front, conducting it 
with fatigued and exhausted troops against vastly 
superior forces. On my giving him accurate figures 
and other evidence in proof of my assertions and explain- 
ing to him our bitterly grievous position in regard to 
reserves, he appeared scarcely able to grasp the hard 
realities unfolded before his eyes. Afterwards my Chief 
of Staff confirmed for him what I had said and furnished 
him with further particulars. Herr von Heydebrand 
then told me that from what he had now learned he 
must recognize that, hitherto, he had cherished a 
totally false view of our situation ; he and his party 
had been utterly misinformed in Berlin. 

The over-rosy official view also explains the other- 
wise inexplicable and frequently exaggerated aims 
of the Pan-Germans, who have been so decried on 
account of their mistaken demands. Like many 
others, they really knew nothing of the actual situa- 
tion. They wanted to point the people to some 


tangible war-aims. France was fighting for Alsace- 
Lorraine, England for the domination of the seas and 
for her trade monopoly, Russia for Constantinople 
and for ice-free access to the ocean, Italy for the 
" unredeemed provinces." What was Germany fighting 
for ? To this the Pan-German party wished to give 
the answer ; and the simple truth, " for her life, for 
her unscathed existence, for her unobstructed develop- 
ment," did not sound strong enough. And yet of all 
war-cries it was the only firm, strong and worthy one. 

Out of a land of dreams millions of Germans were 
suddenly dragged into pitiless and harsh realities by 
the unfortunate events of the year 1918. It affords 
imperishable testimony to the fatal effects of artificially 
cultivating an ill-founded optimism, effects especially 
fatal when, in war-time, the judgment on the general 
situation is too favourable. Nay, I maintain that the 
collapse of Germany would never have developed 
into such a terrible catastrophe, if the severe reverses at 
the front, which they considered utterly impossible, had 
not torn the people out of all the illusions sedulously 
fostered by official personages. They had universally 
believed everything to be highly favourable and pros- 
perous ; and now, all of a sudden, they had to see 
that they had been duped by misleading propaganda. 
So effectually had this thoughtless, vague optimism 
been instilled into their minds that, even in times of 
the greatest excitement, tired people took refuge in 
it and very few had the energy or self-reliant courage 
to picture to themselves the results of a possible defeat. 
And, yet, it was just such as these few who drew from 
their inner conflicts with final bitter possibilities a 
stiffer power of resistance, since they learned thereby 
that supremest effort was essential for struggle and 
victory, that defeat meant destruction. 

The lack of uprightness and truthfulness which 


arose from loose thinking and which had become 
second nature to many gentlemen in responsible posi- 
tions, has taken a bitter revenge. With the opiate 
of eternal reassurances that all is well you cannot 
stimulate either the individual or the community to 
the pinnacle of effort. A much greater effect is ob- 
tained by honestly pointing out that enormous tasks 
are to be accomplished in a life-and-death struggle, 
that this struggle is harder than any people has ever 
passed through, and that, unless all is to be lost, no 
nerve must weaken, no soul become lax, in the ups 
and downs of this vital conflict. Clear knowledge as 
to the results of a possible defeat ought not to have 
been withheld from the people at home, and the horror 
of the strife at the front ought never to have been dis- 
guised for them by a false mystification when failures 

I am not here advocating any doleful damping of 
people's spirits ; all I say is that, from the outset, 
the German people ought to have been honoured by 
assuming it to be mature enough to face the whole hard 
truth and to steel its heart by gazing at it. 

Hundreds and hundreds of times I said to my 
troops : " Comrades, things are going hard with us. 
They are bitterly difficult. It is a case of life and 
death for you and for all that we Germans have. 
Whether we shall pull through I do not know. But I 
have every faith in you that none will desert the other 
or the cause. There is no other way out of it ; and 
so, forward, for God and with God, for the Kaiser 
and the realm ! for all that you love and refuse to see 
crushed." Such things as these ought to have been 
told the people at home according as the situation 
called for it. 

But the authorities preferred to ration the truth. 


The result was that the nation, starving for news, 
snatched greedily at rumours and tittle-tattle as 
substitutes for what was kept from them, while distrust 
and disintegrating doubt grew apace. These false 
tactics began at the first Battle of the Marne ; and 
we never got rid of them till the collapse came. 

The German Press is not to be blamed for the mis- 
taken views of its readers ; the evil had its roots in 
the source from which the information was supplied to 
the Press. An honest desire for the truth was dis- 
played throughout by the newspapers of all shades 
of opinion, though naturally party views and per- 
sonal interests played their part. During the war, press 
representatives of the most diverse political opinions, 
and especially war correspondents who were my guests 
and whom I met over and over again with the fighting 
troops, complained to me that they were not permitted 
to write of the things as they saw them, that they might 
only give their readers an inkling of the truth, but not 
tell them the full seriousness of the situation. Very 
bad news it was thought preferable to suppress alto- 
gether. Especially when matters were critical at the 
front, the red pencil wallowed in the dispatches and 
reports ; and what ultimately remained had often 
assumed quite a different air when denuded of its 

The censor's office, by reason of its effect upon 
these reports of immediate eye-witnesses, was guilty 
of heinous sin against the country. 

New Year's Eve, 1920. 

Half an hour ago we rose from our modest cele- 
bration of New Year's Eve Miildner, Zobeltitz and 

Thus quite a little party ! 


How delighted I was when, as soon as the ice per- 
mitted, Zobel came over. 

But, after all, the evening has been a quiet and op- 
pressive one. It was as though each of us hung secretly 
in the web of his own thoughts, and as if each, when he 
spoke, was anxiously choosing his words lest he might 
touch some old wound or sore. 

It was fortunate that we had good old Zobel with us 
in his orange-coloured jersey. His melancholy humour 
is inexhaustible ; and he has the knack of making the 
hardest things softer and more bearable by means of 
his dry, quiet, wise fooling. 

What a lot passes through one's mind in such hours ! 
Past, present, future like the medley of a cinema 
picture, one's self being only a helpless spectator. 

And my folk, wife, children, parents, brothers and 
sister somewhere each of them on this last night of 
the old year has been thinking of me. 

Dear comrades of the field living and dead ! 
Friends, even though the end was so different from what 
you sought, the sacrifices you made for our poor 
country, for our longings and for our hopes will not be 
lost. Your deeds remain a sacred example and the best 
seed for a new period in which the Germans shall 
again vigorously believe in themselves and their mis- 
sion for a period that will come, that must come. 

And all the other faces out of pre-war years ! But 
ah 1 that seems now to me to be much longer ago ; it 
is as if a thin film of dust were settling upon it. There 
is so much that one cannot imagine again as it used 
to be. I fancy we have all learned a great deal by 
bitter experience. And yet it is only seven years 

How swiftly life rushes on ! 

And in another seven years ? 

God knows, the lot of us Germans is miserable 


enough now, and I, personally, cannot exactly complain 
of any preferential treatment. But when I look 
forward into the future, I seem to feel that we must 
find the way up to the light again at no very distant 

January, 1921. 

It is still winter weather ; but it is almost tolerable 
again ; the unbearably depressing isolation caused by 
the floating ice has been broken ; the post has 
arrived, and we are once again a part of the world. 
Spring tides and hurricanes are things which con- 
sidering the moods of the climate here are best 
regarded as harmless excesses not to be noticed over- 

Almost as soon as we were " ice-free," Zobel left, 
disguised like an Arctic explorer. 

I myself was over in Doom again for a few days to 
make up for not being there at Christmas. 

Now, those quiet hours with my mother and the 
long talks with my father belong to the past, and 
only the great winter silence lies before me. 

Those talks with my father ! There is hardly a 
problem of our past which did not crop up in the course 
of them. And, whenever I am with him and see how 
he worries himself to trace the road of our destiny, when 
I recognize that, with all our misfortunes, he sought 
always to do the best for the realm and the people 
entrusted to him, Heel the bitter injustice done him by 
a great section of our people in not allowing anything 
in his life's work to be of any value, in burying 
under the ruins of an unsuccessful peace policy all 
that was great and good and imperishable in the 
thirty years of my father's reign. 

I believe myself to be fairly free from blindness to 
the mistakes of the throne in Germany during recent 
decades ; and possibly these sheets bear testimony, 


here and there, to my wish to see clearly and to speak 
frankly of what I see. That in my opinion much that, 
at the present time, is generally attributed to the 
Kaiser should rather be charged to the unhappy influ- 
ence of unsuitable advisers has been stated already. 
With all that, however, these memoirs would give a 
one-sided idea of my views concerning the activities 
of my father, if they did not expressly record my full 
recognition of the great personal share taken by him 
in the prosperous development of the empire. 

His services to the empire began when he was still a 
prince. In the years following the war of 1870-1, the 
army remained at a standstill for a long time. The 
officers were, in part, too old, but people did not care to 
pension off men who had done such excellent work in the 
war, and a very cautious attitude was adopted towards 
innovations as a whole. The well-tried principles on 
which the war with France had been won were to be 
kept, as far as possible, intact. It was, therefore, greatly 
to his credit that the young Prince William recognized 
the perils inherent in this stagnation. He used the whole 
force of his personality to effect an up-to-date reorganiza- 
tion of our army training, an effort which cost him 
many a severe conflict. I remember that my father, 
much to the astonishment of the great generals, caused 
the heavy artillery of the fortress of Spandau to take 
part in the manoeuvres of the Potsdam garrison, a thing 
till then quite unknown. In further extension of this 
idea he subsequently, as Kaiser, took a large share in 
fostering the development of our heavy artillery. The 
development of our engineer troops is also largely due 
to his personal initiative. He also devoted himself 
energetically to the cultivation of a patriotic, self- 
sacrificing spirit in the army, and, wherever he could, 
he advocated the maintenance of traditions and the 
esprit de corps of the various troops. 



The creation of our navy I regard as solely attribut- 
able to my father ; in this he took the great step into the 
world which was essential for Germany if she were to 
become a World Power and not remain merely a Con- 
tinental one. But we owe to him not only our navy ; 
he likewise took an active share in the development of 
our mercantile fleet. 

In the sphere of labour legislation he played a lead- 
ing part ; and there is a touch of the tragic in the fact 
that it was the Labour Party who finally brouglit about 
his fall, although for their sake he had gone through 
the first great conflicts of his reign and caused the 
Socialist Act to be quashed. 



FOR the great Rheims offensive in the month of 
July, 1918, the General Higher Command had 
brought together all our disposable forces, reserving only 
some fresh divisions and heavy artillery with the Prince 
Rupprecht Army Group for the Hagen attack. When 
this move upon Rheims failed, I no longer entertained 
any doubt that matters at the front as well as affairs 
at home were drifting towards the final catastrophe a 
catastrophe which was inevitable unless, at this eleventh 
hour, great decisions were formed and energetically 
carried out. My Chief of Staff, Count von der 
Schulenburg, fully shared my views, and accordingly 
after the enemy's great offensive of Villers-Cotterets, 
we left no means untried to persuade the General 
Higher Command to adopt two measures above all ; 
namely, the placing of affairs at the front and affairs at 
home on a sounder basis. 

In consideration of our extremely difficult military 
situation, we regarded it as requisite that the entire 
front should be immediately withdrawn to the Antwerp- 
Meuse position. This would have brought with it a 
whole series of advantages. In the first place we 
should have moved far enough from the enemy to give 
our severely fatigued and morally depressed troops 
time to rest and recuperate. Moreover, the entire 
front would have been considerably shortened ; and 



the naturally strong formation of the Meuse front in 
the Ardennes would have afforded us, even with rela- 
tively weak forces, a strong line of resistance. In this 
way a saving of reserves could be effected. The weak 
spots of the front naturally remained the right wing 
in Belgium and the left at Verdun. 

Our views of the situation were laid before the 
Higher Command in a report in which we stated that 
every thing now depended upon withstanding the attacks 
of the enemy until the wet weather set in, which would 
be about the end of November. If we had insufficient 
forces to hold the long front lines, we ought to make 
a timely withdrawal to a shorter one. It was im- 
material where we halted ; the important point was 
to keep our army unbeaten and in fighting condition. 
Our left wing between Sedan and the Vosges could 
not retire, and must therefore be strengthened with 

The Higher Command replied that they could, at 
most, decide to withdraw to the starting-point of the 
spring advance of 1918. They adopted the view in 
itself perfectly correct that, in the first place, a further 
retirement would be an admission of our weakness, 
which would lead to the most undesirable political 
deductions on the part of the enemy ; secondly, that 
our railways would not permit us to evacuate rapidly 
the extensive war zone beyond the Antwerp-Meuse 
position, so that immense quantities of munitions 
and stores would fall into the hands of the enemy ; 
thirdly, that the Antwerp-Meuse line would form an 
unfavourable permanent position, since the railways, 
having no lateral communications, would render the 
transport of troops behind the front and from one 
wing to another cumbrous and slow. 

We, however, were of opinion that a retirement was 
unavoidable and that it would be better to withdraw 


while the troops were capable of fighting than to wait 
till they were utterly exhausted. Political considera- 
tions, we thought, ought to yield to the military 
necessity of retaining an army capable of showing 
fight. The loss of material and the unfavourable 
railway facilities could not be helped ; we should have 
to fall back ; and it would be better to do so in time. 

At home we wanted energetic, inexorable and 
thorough leadership dictatorship, suppression of all 
revolutionary attempts, exemplary punishment of de- 
serters and shirkers, militarization of the munition 
works, etc., etc., expulsion of doubtful foreigners, 
and so on. 

But our proposals and warnings had no effect ; we 
knew, therefore, what was coming. 

We soon saw ourselves in the midst of the debacle ; 
we had to watch with open eyes the inevitable catas- 
trophe approaching nearer and nearer, day by day, 
ever faster and ever more insatiable. 

When I look back and compare the past, that time is 
the saddest of my whole life sadder even than the 
critical months at Verdun or the deeply painful days, 
weeks and months that followed the final catastrophe. 

With an anxious heart I entered every morning the 
office of the Army Group ; I was always prepared for 
bad news and received it only too often. The drives 
to the front, which had previously been a pleasure and 
recreation for me, were now filled with bitterness. The 
staff officers' brows were furrowed with care. The 
troops, though still almost everywhere perfect in disci- 
pline and demeanour willing, friendly and cheerful in 
their salutes were worn to death. My heart turned 
within me when I beheld their hollow cheeks, their lean 
and weary figures, their tattered and dirty uniforms ; one 
would fain have said : " Go home, comrade, have a good 
long sleep, have a good hearty meal you've done 


enough," when these brave fellows used to pull them- 
selves together smartly on my addressing them or 
shaking hands with them. And the pity of it all was, 
I could not help them ; these tired and worn-out men 
were the last remnants of our strength, they would 
have to be worked remorselessly if we were to avoid 
a catastrophe and obtain a peace at all bearable for 

So, from day to day, I had to look on while the old 
fighting value of my bravest division dwindled away, 
while vigour and confidence were bled whiter and whiter 
in the incessant and arduous battles. As things stood, 
no rest could be allowed to the war-worn troops, or at 
most only a day now and then. Instead of a drastic 
shortening of the front, we had still the old extent to 
cover with our anaemic and decimated divisions. It 
soon became quite impossible to do so at all adequately. 
Clamours for relief and rest were made to me, which I 
found myself unable to grant. Reinforcements stopped 
almost completely ; and the few grouplets that dribbled 
out to us were only of inferior value. They consisted 
mostly of old and worn-out soldiers sent back to the 
front again ; often they were gleaned from the hos- 
pitals in a half-convalescent condition ; often they 
were half-grown lads with no proper training and no 
sort of discipline. The majority of them were of a 
refractory and unruly disposition an outcome of the 
agitators' work at home and of the feebleness of the 
Government, who did nothing to counteract these 
agitators and their revolutionary intrigues. 

That the source of disintegration lay at home and 
that thence there flowed to the front an ever-renewed 
and poisonous stream of agitatory, mutinous and 
rebellious elements no unprejudiced observer could 
question. This conviction is not, by any means, based 
solely upon the views of military circles at the front ; 


during my journeys on furlough and otherwise, I saw for 
myself behind the lines and at home what was going 

From these personal observations I became con- 
vinced that this movement had its source in the 
inadequate feeding and care given to the people at 
home ; so that, especially in the last year and a half of 
the war, the revolutionary tendencies grew so rank that 
they smothered every sounder current of feeling. And 
I put the blame less upon the people, who hungered and 
pinched at home for their fatherland, than upon those 
who were called to provide for something better, to 
see that things were more equitably distributed and with 
an energy that showed no respect of persons. Finally, 
I blame those men at the head of affairs who, when 
they saw the failure of existing powers, omitted to 
create a post and appoint an official who, with un- 
limited powers and freed from all the hindrances and 
encumbrances of the old officialdom, should enforce the 
necessary measures with the authority of a dictator. 

That, during the menacing years of crisis, we did 
nothing to make economic provision for the war, and 
that we were therefore quite unprepared in an economic 
sense, I have stated above in discussing the years 
preceding the catastrophe of 1914. The error of that 
period was immensely magnified during the war by 
lack of foresight and by clinging to a system which 
maintained itself by one makeshift after another. The 
decisions and schemes adopted were not precautionary ; 
they came merely in reply to the incessant knocks of 
necessity. A characteristic example is the mania for 
commandeering that took possession of the State 
just when there was hardly anything left to seize, 
and which was doomed to failure also owing to a 
widespread corruption not infrequently winked at 
and encouraged. 


All this does not, by any means, exonerate the Radi- 
calism of the Left or its filibustering followers, whose 
policy was to draw party advantage and to profiteer 
by the war, from an inexpiable share of responsibility 
for our miserable collapse after four years' heroic fight- 
ing. It only postulates that minds cannot be enmeshed 
until circumstances have crippled their energy and 
rendered them open to the specious arguments of the 
agitator ; it only postulates that those who ought to have 
nourished the people with spiritual and bodily food, 
who ought to have assured its will to victory and its 
patriotic spirit in a sound body that these very 
men unfortunately helped to pave the way for its 

Even as early as the beginning of the year 1917, I 
received, from conversations with many simple people 
in Berlin, the impression that weariness of the war was 
already very great. I also saw a great and a menacing 
change in the streets of Berlin. Their characteristic 
feature had gone : the contented face of the middle- 
class man had vanished ; the honest, hard-working 
bourgeoisie, the clerk and his wife and children, slunk 
through the streets, hollow-eyed, lantern-jawed, pale- 
faced and clad in threadbare clothing that had become 
much too wide for their shrunken limbs. Side by side 
with them jostled the puffed-up profiteer and all the 
other rogues of like kidney. 

It goes without saying that these contrasts aroused 
dissatisfaction and bitterness in the hearts of those who 
suffered, and whose faith in the justice and fairness of 
the authorities was severely shaken. Nevertheless, 
no steps were taken to do away with the evil ; in the 
fullest sense of the saying, whoever wished to profiteer 
profiteered profiteered in state contracts, in essential 
victuals, in raw materials, in party gains for the benefit 
of the " International." 


The effects of all this were severely felt, both behind 
the lines and at the front. Every bitter letter from 
home carried the bacillus ; every soldier returning from 
furlough who had come into touch with these things 
and told his impressions to his over-taxed comrades, 
helped to spread the disease ; and it was aggravated by 
every refractory young rascal who had grown up 
without a father's care and whom the home authorities 
shunted to the front because they could not manage 
him themselves. 

The sources from which the losses of the troops were 
made good were the deputy general commands at 
home. Their enormous significance was not sufficiently 
recognized, nor their value properly appreciated in 
selecting the individuals who were to replace the com- 
manding Generals and Chief of Staff. From the outset, 
old men were appointed often worthy and deserving 
soldiers who enthusiastically placed their services at 
the disposal of their country, but who had no proper 
estimate of the energies and capacities left to them. 
People wished not to be ungrateful, wished to provide 
a sphere of activity for these willing patriots in 
which they could do no harm ; it also gave an oppor- 
tunity of liberating fresher forces for the front. 
All this may have been very well, so long as we 
could reckon with a short war and with the stability 
of home affairs as they stood in 1914 ; but it 
ought to have been drastically modified to fit in with 
new ideas, when the duration of the war could no 
longer be estimated even approximately, when it 
became necessary to consider carefully the possibility 
of new or recurrent movements that might exercise a 
destructive influence upon the unanimity that had 
originally been so reassuring. No such thorough 
adaptation to suit the altered circumstances ever 
took place. Whoever once occupied a deputy's post 


occupied it permanently ; or if a post became vacant 
through death or because the substitute was really 
too utterly incapable, it was filled again from the 
ranks of those who had failed at the front or who, 
through illness or wounds, were now considered fit 
only for home service. A home post ! What harm 
can the man do there ? The man who was no longer 
a man, whose energies were used up, who knew nothing 
of the war, or who, if he had been to the front, had, 
in nearly every case, returned embittered to regard 
home service as a buenretiro after labours accomplished 
this type of man caused us untold injury. Just in 
the last years of the war, all the human material that 
we called up and combed out ought to have passed 
through the strongest and firmest hands before being 
incorporated at the front. These men, who were 
for the most part worm-eaten by revolutionary ideas 
or tainted with pacifist notions, ought to have been 
trained by vigorous educative work into disciplined 
men worthy of their comrades at the front. With a few 
nice phrases such as were common at the meetings of 
" warriors' societies " or at memorial festivities, no such 
educative work could be performed. And what the home- 
land failed to do could never be done afterwards by 
instruction in patriotism, were it never so well meant. 
To my mind, the idea of instilling the patriotism they 
lacked into the men within hearing of the thunder of 
the guns was naive in the extreme. We received as 
supplementary drafts men who had set out with the 
determination to hold up their hands at the very first 
opportunity. But it was the mistaken method of 
filling the responsible positions in the deputy com- 
mands that avenged itself most terribly. In the 
summer and early autumn of 1918, the spreading 
demoralization became more and more noticeable in 
the occupied territory. The order that originally 


existed behind the lines was visibly deteriorating. In 
the larger camps on the lines of communication, 
thousands of straggling shirkers and men on leave 
wandered about ; some of them regarded every day 
that they could keep away from their units as a boon 
from heaven ; some of them were totally unable to 
join their regiments on account of the overburdening 
of the railways. I remember at the time a journey 
to the front which took me through Hirson Junction. 
It was just dinner-time for men going on leave and 
stragglers, who stood around by the hundred. I 
mingled with the crowd and talked to many of the 
men. What I heard was saddening indeed. Most of 
them were sick and tired of the war and scarcely 
made an effort to hide their disinclination to rejoin 
their units. Nor were they all rascals ; there was 
many a face there which showed that the nerves had 
given way, that energy was gone, that the primitive 
and unchecked impulse of self-preservation had got the 
mastery over all recognition of the necessity for holding 
out or resisting. Of course among the stragglers in 
Hirson there were also a number of fine fellows who 
maintained their courage and bearing. To meet this 
demoralization of forces which might have been 
concentrated into a valuable help for our daily increas- 
ing needs, nothing or next to nothing was attempted. 
New comprehensive and thorough measures were 
imperative here, and they should have been entrusted 
to the Higher Command to enforce. Within the sphere 
of our Army Group, we naturally did everything that 
lay in our power to introduce some sort of order into 
the chaos, but we received very scanty support in 
our efforts. The discipline behind the lines slackened 
ominously. This I could perceive in Charleville, the 
head-quarters of the Army Group. Men had con- 
stantly to be taken to task on account of their slack 


bearing and their failure to salute. Men v returned 
from leave who had previously performed their duties 
in an exemplary manner were inclined to insub- 
ordination and mutiny. The younger supplementary 
drafts were, at best, utterly wanting in enthusiasm, 
and generally showed an absolutely frivolous con- 
ception of patriotism, duty and fidelity things which, 
for a soldier, should be sacred matters. Unfortunately, 
the highest authorities resolved upon no energetic or 
exemplary measures in regard to these dangerous 
phenomena. The behaviour of the French population 
was, it is true, correct ; but they did not disguise 
their delight at our obvious decline. 

By the end of September, events came fast and 
furious. It was like a vast conflagration that had long 
smouldered in secret, and that, suddenly getting air, 
now burst into flame in innumerable places. Fire 
everywhere : here in the west and in the south-east 
and at home. The collapse of Bulgaria was the first 
visible sign. Bad tidings had arrived from the Balkan 
front on September 26. They reached us while our 
own Army Group was itself engaged in a severe 
defensive battle against heavy attacks to the west of 
the Aisne and on both sides of the Argonne from east 
of Rheims up to the Meuse, a battle which, despite all 
our heroic resistance, ended in our having to yield 
ground to the vastly superior masses of the enemy with 
their armoured tanks. The Bulgarians, under the 
heavy pressure of the united forces of the Entente on 
the Macedonian front, had retired on a wide line. 
They had lost a great number of prisoners and a large 
quantity of material ; and, as we gathered from the 
brief telegrams and telephone messages, Malmoff, the 


Bulgarian Prime Minister, believed that he could only 
meet these reverses by entering upon peace negotiations 
with the Commander-in-Chief of the Entente armies. 
The situation thus created spelled serious peril for us ; 
the elimination of Bulgaria might mean the beginning 
of the end for the Central Powers ; the Danube lay 
open to the Entente forces ; the invasion of Roumania 
and Hungary had been brought within the bounds 
of more immediate possibility. The news caused 
the Kaiser and the General Higher Command at 
Avesnes the greatest consternation. For the time 
being, the gap was stopped ; the influence of the 
King and of the Crown Prince Boris succeeded in 
stemming the rout ; and the General Higher Command 
arranged for the immediate transport to the Balkans 
of some Austrian divisions and of several divisions 
from the east to buttress the severely shaken front. 

Meantime the most vehement attacks upon the 
entire west front from Flanders to the east of the 
Argonne were continued by the Entente armies with 
a savage determination such as had never been dis- 
played before. We received the impression of being 
at the climax of the concentric hostile offensive and 
though the gigantic attack might compel us to yield 
ground we felt that, by summoning up all our 
strength for the effort, we might after all maintain 
our position ; only that, behind this desperate effort, 
still lurked the agonizing question : " How long yet ? ' ; 

On September 28, I visited my brother Fritz, who, 
with his First Guards division, was engaged in a 
severe struggle with the Americans at the eastern ex- 
tremity of the Argonne. I know my brother to be a very 
brave, intrepid and cool-headed man, and one whose 
care for his troops was exemplary. He was accustomed 
to affliction and distress ; the First Guards had all 
the time been posted where things had been about 


as hot as they could be, at Ypres, in Champagne, at 
the Somme, the Chemin des Dames, Gorlice, the 
Argonne. This time I found him changed ; he was 
filled with unutterable bitterness ; he saw the end 
approaching, and, together with his men, fought with 
the courage of despair. He gave me a description of 
the situation which filled me with dismay. His entire 
division consisted of 500 rifles in the fighting zone ; 
the staff with their dispatch carriers were fighting in 
the front line, rifle in hand. The artillerymen were 
extremely fatigued, the guns were worn out, fresh 
ones were scarcely to be got from the works, the rations 
were insufficient and bad. What was to come of it 
all ? The American attacks were in themselves badly 
planned ; they showed ignorance of warfare ; the 
men advanced in columns and were mowed down by 
our remaining machine-guns. No great danger lay 
there. But their tanks pierced our thin lines one 
man to every twenty metres and fired on us from 
behind. Not till then did the American infantry 
advance. Withal the Americans had at their disposal 
an incredible quantity of heavy and very heavy 
artillery. Their preliminary bombardment greatly 
exceeded in intensity and heaviness anything we had 
known at Verdun or on the Somme. In a report 
I made to His Majesty at Spa, I described to him in 
detail the desperate condition of the First Guards ; 
the Kaiser talked about it to Ludendorff ; but no 
decision to relieve them was arrived at ; I may admit 
that perhaps it could not be done, for we now needed 
every available man for the last struggle. 

At this time, all my attention and energy were 
devoted to the stormy events at the front and to the 
troops entrusted to me. Almost daily, I was in the 
fighting zone ; and, till far into October, I was so 
occupied with my duties as leader of the Army Group 


that I was unable to follow attentively the highly 
important political events which were taking place, 
although I recognized them to be of the most serious 
import. Hence, while in another place I can report 
from personal experience and from my own judgment 
as to the gigantic battle in which we were engaged, I 
can only briefly refer to those political happenings 
which may be regarded more or less as matters of 
common knowledge. On September 30 I received 
from His Excellency von Berg an unexpected telephone 
call to Spa, where, in the General Head-quarters, 
important decisions of a military character touching 
the question of peace and the situation at home had 
been made or were about to be made. Since I had 
hitherto been carefully confined to the scope of my 
military duties, this order suggested that something 
unusual was in the air. There was no reason to hope 
for anything good ; and the information that met me 
at Spa was truly startling and dismaying even to one 
who, like myself, had come prepared to hear bad news. 
I will sketch in a few lines what I learned. 

Field-Marshal General von Hindenburg and General 
Ludendorff had conferred with the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs and had been informed that, in pursuance of the 
negotiations of August 14, efforts had been made to 
approach the enemy States through the mediation of 
neutral Powers, but that these had failed to develop 
into peace negotiations, nor was there any hope of 
success in that direction. In reply to the Foreign 
Office's declaration of bankruptcy, the representatives 
of the General Higher Command had stated that, in 
view of their own breakdown in the field and at home 
and considering the enormous superiority of the 
enemy forces and the gigantic efforts they were making, 
they saw themselves faced with the impossibility of 
gaining a military victory. Even though this effort on 


the part of the enemy appeared to be the last possible 
spurt before the finish, success for us could no longer 
give us " victory," but as had been admitted in August, 
could only lie in our managing to outlast the enemy's 
will to continue the war in a struggle as to whether 
one could hold out to the last quarter of an hour. In 
view of the utter failure of the home departments and 
the question of reserves, it had to be acknowledged 
that the only thing possible was to hold out through 
the late autumn and winter in better defensive positions 
of our own choosing. During that period, an armistice 
and peace negotiations should and must be begun. 
The Meuse position, which my chief of staff and myself 
had advocated immediately after the unsuccessful 
Rheims offensive in July and while we could with 
comparative ease have disengaged ourselves from the 
enemy, was now to be occupied for the winter defensive. 

Still more threatening was what the Secretary of 
State had to report about the situation at home, 
where the people had glided faster and faster under the 
control and the influence of the majority parties. 
According to his statements, revolution, struggling to 
obtain control of the State, stood, as it were, knocking 
at the door. Induced by the conditions arising out 
of the unfavourable military situation, and quite 
regardless of the strength or weakness of the State, the 
majority parties who desired the offensive for their 
own ends had made a violent attack in the principal 
committee of the Reichstag, upon the Imperial Chan- 
cellor, Count von Hertling. 

The main accusations brought against him were : 
The supremacy of the deputy commanding generals at 
home, the Suffrage Act, and the influence without 
responsibility exercised upon home politics by the 
Higher Command. The demands put forward were 
aimed frankly at parliamentary control of the Govern- 


ment and the shelving of the military regime. The 
two ways of overcoming the crisis would have been, on 
the one hand, for the Government to assert its authority 
in unequivocal fashion by acting, in the one case, with 
all the powers of a dictator, in the other, to submit 
and grant the demands of the majority parties. The 
Secretary of State believed it possible to disarm the 
revolutionary movement by granting parliamentary 
government on a broad national basis ; hence he 
advocated this policy, notwithstanding the fact that 
circumstances at home and our position with regard to 
the enemy were highly unpropitious for such a re- 
organization of the constitution. Thus, the revolution 
threatening from below was to be smothered with the 
mantle of a revolution from above ; and a fresh 
welding together of the disintegrating national forces 
was to be effected under the cry of a " Government 
of National Defence." I will gladly assume it to be 
indisputable that these responsible statesmen who 
advocated this policy believed in the possibility of 
obtaining practicable conditions by these means, and 
that they hoped for a certain return from the new 
government firm, at any rate in the domain of foreign 
affairs, i.e., with a view to the peace negotiations. 
But I must confess that I could not resist the impression 
that it was all a matter of fine words, that the whole 
thing was only a form (evil in itself and made to look 
attractive by auto-suggestion) under which its advo- 
cates abandoned the power in the State to their 
opponents of the majority parties. 

His Majesty agreed to the proposals of these 
gentlemen. The manifold difiicultues now encroaching 
everywhere had already reached the steps of the 
throne, and the Kaiser, under the pressure of these 
problems, seemed to be suffering from a lack of 
psychical stamina; he appeared unable to assume 


a strong and self-reliant position of authority. Con- 
sequently, in the various proposals of his military and 
political counsellors, he saw succour and support, at 
which he eagerly grasped in order to feel that the 
dangers were surmounted, for a moment at least. 

The position of the Imperial Chancellor, Count von 
Hertling, whose age and infirmities rendered him 
physically unfit for his office, appeared so severely 
shaken that the Kaiser, since the Count declined to 
take part in the change of constitution, declared 
himself willing to accept the resignation that had been 
tendered. As successors were mentioned, first of all 
Prince Max of Baden and the Secretary to the Imperial 
Exchequer, Count Rodern ; the selection of the latter 
appearing the more probable. 

On account of the menacing and uncertain general 
situation at the front and at home, the gentlemen from 
Berlin, as well as those of His Majesty's suite and of the 
General Head-quarters, were in a very serious mood. 
In regard to the military difficulties, it was hoped, 
however, that the great battle on the west front might 
be fought out without any severe defeat. Moreover, 
a hope of keeping those allies who had become un- 
reliable was also cherished. People likewise believed 
themselves able, by carrying out the intended con- 
stitutional change, to effect such an alteration of the 
mental trend at home that, on the whole, a firm front 
could be shown at home and abroad. 

Personally, I could not share the optimism displayed 
in this view of home affairs. Both by nature and by 
lessons learnt from history and experience, I always 
possessed a leaning towards the British constitutional 
system, and I have thought much about the possibility 
of its being adapted to our form of State. As I have 
pointed out before, I was not spared a good many 
rebuffs and criticisms whenever, in pre-war years, I 


expounded and defended my opinions on this subject. 
What was now to take place appeared to fall into line 
with my notions. Appeared to do so, though in reality 
it had nothing in common with them. 

Only what is given willingly meets with apprecia- 
tion ; what is ultimately extorted and claimed as a right, 
after it has been withheld time and again, has no value 
as a gift. To give up a thing voluntarily at the right 
moment and with discernment is manly and, if the 
word may be allowed, regal ; but it is just as manly 
and regal to refuse what is sought to be levied as black- 
mail, as the question of a trial of strength in the hour 
of a country's bitterest need when it is struggling for 
existence. A liberal, voluntary and timely reconstruc- 
tion of our constitution would have revealed the 
strength of the Crown ; it would have disarmed the 
opposition and brought it back to a sense of duty. 
But for the Crown to yield to violent claims, backed 
by threats of revolution, was to display signs of help- 
lessness and feebleness which could only increase the 
cupidity of the covetous within the country and with- 
out. At the moment when the flood was at hand, 
a dyke was razed, because it was believed possible to 
assuage and calm the approaching billows by removing 
the obstruction. Madness ! One merely gave up 
everything that lay behind the dyke ; the Spa decisions 
unconditionally abandoned the powers of the State 
to the parties of the extreme left who were " going 
the whole hog," aiming at revolution. Before the 
storm, one should have been strong and shown one's 
strength. But the rigid home programme of August 
14, the programme of thoroughness, order, strictness, 
energy, the programme of no longer closing one's eyes, 
the programme which, in the days of the first sinister 
omens, had been demanded by Ludendorff as a con- 
ditio sine qua non and which had been promised by 


the Chancellor that programme had never been 
carried out. Nothing had been done since then. 
Now, when the storm was howling, it was too late to 
strengthen the rotten bulwarks, to repair the neglected 
dykes. No dyke captain or dictator, were he ever 
so talented, were he the immortal dyke captain von 
Schonhausen himself, could undo or retrieve in a 
few hours the sins and the negligences of many years. 
That there was no longer a firm hand in the country, 
that the Government had for years not led, but suffered 
things to go as they pleased, brought about conse- 
quences that decided the question of supremacy. 
And on that day, men whose final wisdom it was to 
lay upon other shoulders the responsibility for the 
results of their own incapacity, abandoned monarchy, 
bowing to the democratic demands of our enemies 
and to threatening internationalism of every shade. 
As I have already said, His Excellency von Hintze, 
the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, took upon 
himself to report upon the situation in the interior 
as well, and to recommend as the best solution the 
" revolution from above/' which, as things stood, was 
nothing but " surrender at discretion." Strange that 
this man, whose praiseworthy past entitled him to 
be held worthy and to be trusted, and who, as Kiihl- 
mann's successor, might have accomplished so much- 
strange that this man should have chosen this course. 
In truth and honour, it must be said that what I 
have just written is, in part, the outcome of subsequent 
consideration and discernment. During the short 
hours of that conference such a pressure of exciting 
news was thrust upon me, and I was so anxious to get 
back to the troops and the battle from which I had been 
called, that I only grasped the general outline of affairs. 
Nor, indeed, was I asked for my opinion on all those 
seething problems, or on all that, in the main, was 


already unalterably fixed by determinations arising 
out of the agony of the moment. It was almost a 
wonder that people had remembered that the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the army was also the Crown Prince 
of Germany and of Prussia. Without responsibility, 
without rights, but nevertheless. . . . And so I was 
summoned, and while a thousand voices called me 
away to the post of my soldier's duties, I had to look 
on at events irresistibly marching on to produce the 
great debacle. 

Immediately upon the conclusion of the conference, 
the Kaiser left for home ; and the Field-Marshal General 
followed him on October I, as he himself said, to be 
near His Majesty in those days of gravest decision, to 
give information to the Government now forming and 
to strengthen its confidence. 

On October 2, indications accumulated that, in 
spite of the original doubts, Prince Max of Baden would 
be selected as Imperial Chancellor, his origin and per- 
sonality affording a guarantee, as it was then thought, 
that the interests of the Crown would be safeguarded 
in the reorganization of home politics which appeared 
to have become necessary. In the preliminary nego- 
tiations, the Prince seemed to have adopted unreser- 
vedly the official programme of the majority parties. 

February, 1921. 

My Army Group was still struggling in the severest 
of defensive actions, when I learned of the actual 
appointment of Prince Max of Baden on October i. 
A new Government had been formed, containing several 
social-democratic members. This innovation signified, 
in the eyes of the world, a reversal of the home policy 
of the empire, a change of system tending towards 
democracy and parliamentary government. Whether 
that which, to some extent, had been produced under 


the pressure of a very serious foreign situation would 
really prove capable of welding the nation together 
remained to be seen. 

On October 4, my Army Group was again engaged 
in a very severe defensive action, the enemy having 
commenced a general attack along the entire western 
front. The battle raged bitterly on the ridge and the 
slopes of the Chemin des Dames between the Ailette 
and the Aisne, in Champagne, on both sides of the road 
leading northwards from Somme-Py, between the 
Argonne and the Meuse, to the east of the Aisne and on 
both sides of the Montfaucon-Bautheville road. Since 
September 26, we had located no fewer than thirty- 
seven attacking divisions. And they had artillery, 
tanks and airmen in apparently inexhaustible numbers. 
On the whole, our older troops behaved magnificently 
and fought with undiminished tenacity. And yet we 
now suffered losses in men and material such as we 
had formerly never known. Oftener and oftener did 
individual divisions now fail us partly from exhaus- 
tion, but also (and that was the most serious point) 
on account of the troops being contaminated by inter- 
national and pacifist ideas. Troops that advanced 
courageously were howled at as " war-prolongers " and 
" blacklegs." Distrust of their comrades' reliability 
caused demoralization in the resisting powers of 
the whole body ; failure on the part of certain con- 
taminated troops led to our flank being turned and 
to the capture of groups that were fighting honestly ; 
frequently, therefore, such unreliable troops had to be 
eliminated and the gaps filled with trustworthy but over- 
fatigued divisions. And so I had to use up my best 
capital, although I fully realized what it meant. And 
yet, even now, I could weep when I think of the un- 
broken spirit of self-sacrifice shown by the trusty, brave 
and well-tried troops who faithfully performed to the 


last their severe duty. They upheld, through all that 
misery, our best traditions. 

On that 4th of October, I drove over to Avesnes 
for a conference with Lieutenant-General von Boehn 
and his General Staff; from there I went on to Mons 
and discussed the military situation at length with the 
Crown Prince of Bavaria and his Chief of General 
Staff, His Excellency von Kuhl. We were unani- 
mously of opinion that, in the present conditions, we 
could not continue to maintain the contested positions 
on our war-worn front in the face of continuous attacks 
by an enemy with superior forces at his command. 
We lacked the troops requisite for counter-attacking 
and for providing our soldiers with the necessary 
repose. Consequently, it appeared to us essential 
to relinquish further territory and, while covering our 
withdrawal, to take up positions farther back, and thus, 
by shortening our front, to obtain the reserves essential 
for a continuation of the battle, whose duration it was 
not possible to determine. 

In the following night while my brave divisions, 
ragged and tattered as they were, were retiring step by 
step and defending themselves as they went Berlin 
dispatched to the President of the North American 
Republic, via Switzerland, the offer which suggested a 
" just peace," based in essence upon the basic prin- 
ciples put forward by Wilson an offer which was 
coupled with a disastrous request for the granting of 
an armistice. 

The struggle continued, and there was no end to the 
battle visible. Our troops were now opposed to enor- 
mously superior odds, both in men and material. 
They withstood them ; they foiled attacks, and 
evacuated ground ; they closed up to form a new 
front and offered fresh resistance. Almost daily I was 
at the front and saw and spoke to the men. They 


behaved heroically in the unequal combat, and 
faithfully fulfilled their duty to the death. He lies 
who asserts that the fighting spirit of the front was 
broken. It was stronger than the shattered and 
exhausted bodies of the men. The men grumbled 
whenever they had a moment's time to grumble, 
just as every genuine German grumbles ; but, when 
it came to the point, they were ever ready again. 

And these incessant battles had a curious result. 
They effected a kind of self-purification of the troops. 
Whatever was foul and corrupt filtered through into 
captivity with the enemy ; what remained to us was 
the healthy kernel. All that these German warriors, 
emaciated and miserably cared for, over-fatigued and 
pursued by death in a thousand forms, could possibly 
give, that they gave. Gratefully my thoughts fly 
back to them to those whose bodies lie where we 
left them, and to those living ones now scattered in 
German cities and German villages, who follow the 
plough, who stand at the anvil, who sit at their desks, 
to all who are peacefully labouring again in the home- 

Still the enemy drove forward ; every day brought 
a big attack; the air trembled with bombardments, 
and with unceasing concussions, roarings, long bursts of 
rolling thunder, the rattling peals never paused again. 

On the night of the 5th, the left wing of the First 
Army had retired behind Suippes ; in order to get into 
touch again with the retreating Seventh Army, it 
had to leave the salient of the Rheims front and to 
withdraw its right wing as far as Conde. On October 
10, the Eighteenth Army, which at that time had 
also been ranged under the Army Group, retired, 
fighting hard, to the Hermann line, as yet little more 
than marked out. 

And while all my thoughts were concentrated upon 


the battle and upon the German soldiers entrusted 
to me, there reached me from home news that sounded 
distant and strange : the wording of our Peace Note to 
President Wilson ; the brusque refusal voiced by the 
Paris press ; the reply that evaded replying and de- 
manded our consent to evacuate all occupied territory 
as a condition of an armistice. There was talk of con- 
sultations among the leading statesmen, of the forma- 
tion by the Higher Command of an armistice com- 
mission under the expert, General von Guendell. The 
War Minister, von Stein, resigned his office and was 
replaced by General Scheiich. 

We fought. The battle began to die down slowly 
at the end of the second week during which it had 
raged. Both sides were completely exhausted. We 
had yielded ground under the enormous pressure, but 
we were still standing ; and nowhere had the enemy 
broken through. On the loth, the Third Army stood 
in the new Brunhilde position from St. Germainmont 
on the north bank of the Aisne, passing through Bethel 
to the east of Vouziers and west of Grandpre. Gall- 
witz was fighting the Americans in the area between 
Sivry and the Forest of Haumont. By the I2th, the 
First Army had occupied, according to plan, the 
Gudrun-Brunhilde position, and the Seventh Army had 
retired to the Hunding position behind the Oise-Serre 
sector. A review of the military situation showed that 
the threatened collapse of the west front had been pre- 
vented by the transfer of the lines of resistance to 
stronger and narrower sectors. Despite the seriousness 
of the situation, we stood for the moment fairly secure ; 
and, while the enemy was preparing for fresh concen- 
tration and new offensives, we could ourselves be 
recuperating and getting ready for defence and such 
a breathing-space was more than necessary to the over- 
fatigued and over-taxed troops. There remained, 


therefore, in my opinion, the faint hope that the peace 
efforts now being undertaken might lead, before the 
winter began, to a conclusion of the war that would be 
honourable for Germany by reason of its being a right- 
eous peace of reconciliation. Failing this, we could 
again, according to my personal views reckon with 
a possibility of holding out till the spring of 1919 at 
the furthest. 

On October 12, in reply to the inquiry of President 
Wilson, Berlin gave a binding acceptance of the con- 
ditions drawn up by him and also signified that we were 
prepared to evacuate the occupied areas on certain 

In all the news from the other side I seemed dimly 
to discover, as through a veil, two minds struggling for 
mastery. There was Wilson, who wanted to establish 
his Fourteen Points ; there was Foch, who knew only 
one aim our annihilation. Which would win ? The 
pair were unequally matched the sprinter Wilson 
and Foch the stayer. If things were quickly settled, 
Wilson's chances were good ; if the negotiations were 
protracted, time was in Foch's favour. Every day's 
delay in arriving at an understanding was a gain to 
him ; it allowed the dry-rot in the homeland to 
spread ; it enfeebled and wasted the front, which 
was mainly buttressed upon auxiliary and defensive 

The I3th brought me news that caused me great 
uneasiness on my father's account. Developments in 
home politics had led to the resignation of His Excel- 
lency von Berg, the excellent and well-tried Chef du 
Cabinet Militaire, His departure removed from the 
permanent inner circle of the Kaiser a man who, by 
virtue of his old youthful friendship and his disregard 


of mere courtly conventions, was able, in loyal candour 
and simplicity, to show the Kaiser things as they 
really were. 

On the I5th, formidable attacks were launched 
afresh against the Army Group of Crown Prince 
Rupprecht, against me and against Gallwitz. The 
enemy had pushed up to our new front and made a 
terrific onslaught. Loss of ground here and there. 
The troops were nearly played out. Next day, Lille 
fell. Things were worst with the Crown Prince of 
Bavaria. Losses were sustained wherever the enemy 
attacked. Now that they had heard something of a 
possible armistice and approaching negotiations, it 
was as though our people could no longer find their full 
inner strength to fight. Also as though, here and 
there, they no longer wanted to. But where was the 
dividing line between could and would with these men, 
who had a thousand times bravely risked their lives 
for their country, and whose heads were befogged by 
hunger, pain and privation ? Does that one last 
failure make a coward of the man who has a hundred 
times shown himself a hero ? No ! Only it deprives 
him of one thing the prize for which he has risked his 
life a hundred times. 

Once more while the new Government is making a 
quick change towards democracy and turning the 
Imperial constitution topsy-turvy a note from Presi- 
dent Wilson. It is in a new tone implacable and 
arrogant, it imposes conditions which constitute an 
interference in Germany's internal affairs. It voices 
clearly the spirit of Foch, which threatens to over- 
power Wilson the spirit of Foch, who brags of the 
military results of the last few days, who desires post- 
ponement and delay in order that the disaster that has 
swooped upon the German people and the German army 
may rage more madly than ever. I cannot refrain 


from quoting at this point a page from my diary that 
describes the position as I saw it at the time : 

' There is at the moment a marked contrast between 
Wilson and Foch. Wilson desires a peace by justice, 
reconciliation and understanding. Foch wants the 
complete humiliation of Germany and the gratification 
of French vanity. 

" Every manifestation of firmness on the German 
front and in the German diplomatic attitude strengthens 
Wilson's position ; every sign of military or political 
weakness strengthens Foch. 

' Wilson demands surrender on two points only : 

1. Submarine warfare : no more passenger ships 

to be sunk. 

2. The democratization of Germany. (No deposi- 

tion of the Kaiser ; only constitutional 
monarchy ; position of the Crown as in 

" A military humiliation of Germany is not aimed 
at by Wilson. Foch, on the other hand, wants, with 
every means in his power, to bring about a complete 
military capitulation and humiliation (gratification of 
French revenge). Which of the two will get the 
upper hand depends solely and simply upon Germany. 
If the front holds out and we preserve a dignified 
diplomatic attitude, Wilson will win. Yielding to 
Foch means the destruction of Germany and the mis- 
carriage of every prospect of an endurable peace. 

" England's position is an intermediate one. The 
main difficulty in the peace movement is France. 

" Attainment of a peace by understanding is ren- 
dered much more difficult for Wilson by the fact that 
our democratization and the peace steps have come 
at the same moment. This is regarded as a sign of 
weakness, and it strengthens Foch's position. If we 
want a peace of justice, we must put the brake on 


everywhere especially in our hankering for peace 
and an armistice. Moreover, we must do everything 
possible to hold the front and to direct the further 
democratization along calmer, or shall we say more 
reasonably convincing, lines." 

What was written above about Wilson was, at the 
moment for which it was intended, perhaps quite 
correct ; but it was speedily no longer so. Still, I 
could believe even now that this self-complaisant 
theorist wanted, at first, to settle matters justly and 
conscientiously till a stronger and more cunning 
man caught him and, with ironic superiority, harnessed 
him to his own chariot. 

On October 17, Ostend, Bruges and Tournay were 
given up by the Army Group of my brave cousin, 
Rupprecht ; on the nineteenth, the enemy settled down 
on both sides of Vouziers on the east bank of the 
Aisne and began preparations for further attacks. 

From home there arrives news of feverish excitement 
among the people. Some are depressed and despair- 
ing ; others are filled with the hope of a reasonable 
settlement. And then rumours of an approaching 
abdication of the Kaiser, of an election of the House 
of Wittelsbach in place of the Hohenzollerns, of a 
regency of Prince Max of Baden. 

Fighting continues ; we hold out fairly well. Any 
one who can keep on his legs is put in the ranks ; for 
it is a question of the possibility of an armistice, of 
peace. The General Higher Command emphatically 
warns the leaders that, considering the diplomatic 
negotiations in progress, a further retreat might have 
the most serious influence upon events. 

We must, therefore, hold tight to the Hermann and 
the Gudrun positions ! Good God ! What have these 
positions to offer ? They are incomplete and, in many 
places, only marked out ! 


And yet the men who for four years have given 
their best, prove themselves now, in these days of 
blackest distress, to be the finest, the trustiest soldiers 
in the world ! They hold this front ! 

On the 2ist, we learn the terms of the Govern- 
ment's reply to Wilson. Everything has been done 
to meet his wishes. Surely, on this basis, he can 
find ways and means to conclude an armistice and 
to set peace negotiations on foot. Will he indeed 
do so ? Will he still do so ? More days pass during 
which thousands of Germans and men of all nations 
are mowed down, during which the gentlemen at the 
green-baize table take their time, during which our 
position at the front does not improve. The voice 
of Wilson's note of the 24th, that arrogant and 
haughty voice, was the voice of Marshal Foch or 
the voice of a Wilson who had sunk to be the puppet 
of the French wirepuller and now equalled his master 
in hawking and spitting. 

Once more, in those gruesome, gloomy days, in 
which I saw my poor battered divisions sacrificing 
all that was left of them, my heart was to be cheered 
by my brave fellows. It was on October 25 I 
motored to the front to convince myself of the condi- 
tion of some of my divisions in the severe fighting. 
After visiting the Divisional Staffs of the 5oth Infantry 
and the 4th Guards, I proceeded to a height from 
which I hoped to get a sight of the fighting lines. 

In a green valley in front of the village of Serain- 
court, I met the sectional reserves that were about 
to march into the fight. They consisted of the regi- 
ments of the First Infantry Division, and included 
my Crown Prince Regiment. When the troops caught 
sight of my car, I was at once surrounded by a throng 
of waving and cheering men. All of them betrayed 
only too clearly the effects of the heavy fighting of 


the last few months. Their uniforms were tattered, 
and their stripes and badges scarcely visible ; their 
faces were often shockingly haggard ; and yet their 
eyes flashed and their bearing was proud and confi- 
dent. They knew that I trusted them and that they 
had never disappointed me. Pride in the deeds of 
their division inspired them. I spoke with a good 
many, pressed their hands ; men who had distinguished 
themselves in the recent battles I decorated with the 
cross. Then I distributed among them my small 
store of chocolate and cigarettes. And so, in all the 
bitterness of those days, a delightful and never-to-be- 
forgotten hour was spent in the circle of my veteran 
front troops. 

Meantime, the French had got the village that lay 
before us under heavy fire, and their artillery now 
began to sweep the meadows. I ordered the battalions 
to take open order ; and, as I drove away, loud 
hurrahs were hurled after me from the throats of my 
beloved " field-greys " ; on all sides there was waving --X\Vt 
of caps and rifles. Without shame, I confess that 
the cheers, the shouts, the waving brought tears into o 
my eyes ; for I knew how hard and how desperate *> 
was the entire situation. 

My Grenadiers at Seraincourt ! They were the last 
troops I saw march to battle with flashing eyes and 
volleying hurrahs. Dear, dear, trusty lads, each one 
of whom my memory gratefully salutes from this 
island of mine. A few hours later on arriving at the 
Army Group quarters, I stood again in that other 
world of anguish and anxiety ; fresh tidings of a grave 
and doubtful character awaited me from home. 

Next day, October 26, I received by telephone news 
of Ludendorff's resignation. In connection with the 
well-known incident of the Higher Command's tele- 
gram to the troops on October 24, he had fallen a 


victim to Prince Max of Baden's Cabinet question. 
I knew at once that this meant the end of things. I 
was informed that it was intended to appoint General 
Groner as his successor. I rang up the Field-Marshal 
General. With a clear understanding of all it meant, 
I urgently implored him to reconsider his purpose and 
begged him not to choose this man in whom there 
was no trace of the spirit that was now our only hope 
of salvation. The Field-Marshal General, who doubt- 
less felt constrained to comply with the views of the 
Imperial Government, was of a different opinion, and 
next day General Groner was appointed First Quarter- 

On October 28, my adjutant, Muller, returned from 
an official journey to the homeland. He brought the 
first evil news of mutiny in the navy. From his report, 
it appeared evident that the revolution was already 
menacingly at hand in Germany ; but that appar- 
ently nothing was being done at the moment to 
suppress the rising movement. With a clear apprecia- 
tion of the position, Muller proposed the posting of 
some reliable divisions behind the Army Group as 
soon as possible so that these troops might be ready 
at hand if necessity arose for their employment. This 
suggestion was unfortunately not considered further ; 
our attention was all too deeply engaged at the front 
and riveted, as in duty bound, on the troops under 
our care. 

From November 4 onwards, my four armies along 
their entire front, retreated towards the Antwerp- 
Meuse position, fighting hard as they retired and 
carrying out everything in perfect order and absolutely 
according to plan. 

At this time, General Groner, the new First Quarter- 


ST. QUENTIN, 1918. 


master General, paid us a visit. The chiefs of my four 
armies reported upon the situation of their various 
fronts. All of them laid stress on the overstrained 
condition of their troops and the entire lack of fresh 
reserves. But they were quite confident that the retreat 
to the Antwerp-Meuse position would be accomplished 
successfully and that the position would be held. 

Afterwards my own chief of staff made a final report, 
two points of which I recall. They were definite 
demands couched in the plainest terms. The one was 
that the discussion of the Kaiser's position at home 
and in the press must cease, since the troops were 
quite incapable of bearing this burden as well as every- 
thing else. The other demand was that the General 
Higher Command must not issue orders which they 
themselves did not believe could be carried out ; 
if, for instance, the retention of a position was ordered, 
the troops must be put in condition to hold it ; con- 
fidence in the leadership was shaken by commands 
which the front was unable to obey because, in the 
existing circumstances, it was impossible to carry 
them into effect. 

On November 5, the Higher Command of the Army 
Group shifted its quarters from Charleville to Waulsort, 
about 50 kilometres further north. This little place 
lies half-way between Givet and Dinant in a ragged 
rock-girt valley, which, at the time of our arrival, was 
filled with a thick clammy fog sombre and depressing. 
I lodged with a Belgian, Count de Jonghe, a nobleman 
of the most agreeable tactfulness. In a long talk 
during the course of the evening, he summed up his 
views on the causes of our breakdown, which was now 
patent to the inhabitants. Germany, he said, had 
committed two grievious mistakes : she ought to 
have made peace in the autumn of 1914 ; if she then 
failed to obtain it, she ought to have appointed a civil 


dictator with unrestricted powers, which would have 
ensured the preservation of order at home. 

On the same evening, Major von Bock, the first 
general staff officer of the Army Group, told me that 
he had been insulted in the open streets by a Landsturm 
soldier from the lines of communication. Two days 
later I made my first personal acquaintance with 
the revolution. I was driving with my orderly officer, 
Zobeltitz, along the Meuse road from Waulsort to 
Givet to visit once again the troops who were to hold 
the Meuse line. A few kilometres from Waulsort, 
just as we reached a spot where the railway runs close 
beside the high-road, we saw a leave-train which had 
halted and was flying the red flag. Immediately 
afterwards, from the open or broken windows my ears 
were greeted with the stupid cries of " Lights out ! 
Knives out ! " which formed a sort of catchword and 
cry for all the hooligans and malcontents of that 

I stopped my car and, accompanied by Zobeltitz, 
walked up to the train. I ordered the men to alight, 
which they did at once. There may have been five 
or six hundred of them a rather villainous-looking 
crowd, mostly Bavarians from Flanders. In front of 
me stood a very lamp-post of a Bavarian sergeant. 
With his hands thrust deep into his trousers pockets 
and displaying altogether a most provocative air, 
he was the very picture of insubordination. I rated 
him and told him to assume at once a more becoming 
deportment, such as was proper to a German soldier. 
The effect was instantaneous. The men began to 
press towards us, and I addressed them in urgent 
tones, endeavouring to touch their sense of honour. 

Even while I was speaking, I could see that I had 
won the contest. In the end, a mere lad of perhaps 
seventeen, a Saxon, with a frank boyish face and 


decorated with the iron cross, stepped forward and 
said : " Herr Kronprinz, don't take it ill ; they are 
only silly phrases ; we mean nothing by them ; we 
all like you and we know that you always look after 
your soldiers well. You see, we have been travelling 
now for three days and have had no food nor attention 
the whole time. No one troubles about us, and there 
are no officers at all with us. Don't be angry with 
us." A general murmur of applause followed. I gave 
the lad my hand, and then followed a comic close to 
the affair. The lad said : ' We know you always 
carry cigarettes with you for good soldiers ; we've 
nothing left to smoke." I gave the men what cigar- 
ettes I had, although these " good soldiers " really 
did not deserve them ; I did it simply because I 
appreciated their condition, which certainly was in 
part responsible for their nonsense ; I felt clearly that, 
if everything behind the lines and at home were not 
out of joint, these men would have followed the right 

I narrate this episode of November 7 merely to show 
on what a weak footing the movement stood to a great 
extent ; it was fanned into flame by violent agitation ; 
and, as the above incident proves, a calm and resolute 
attitude did not fail of its end with the men who 
were, on the whole, not fundamentally bad. Unfor- 
tunately, there was a complete lack of determined 
action on the part of the home authorities, both 
civil and military. By the orders against shooting 
the road was paved for the revolution. 

Concerning the behaviour of the troops in those 
days, it should be said that, despite the months of 
struggle that they had gone through, they carried 
out their retreat in perfect order and, in the main, 
without any important interference from the enemy, 
who followed hesitatingly. The prospect of the new 


Meuse position, with its natural strength artificially 
increased, seemed to give the troops great encour- 
agement as to the future. 

One episode remains to be recorded. On the 6th, 
the negotiators despatched by the German Govern- 
ment crossed the road between La Capelle and Guise 
within the area of the Eighteenth Army. 



End of April, 1921. 

IT is almost two months since I wrote the last of the 
above lines. As often as I have prepared myself 
to record those last and bitterest experiences, which 
have occupied my thoughts a thousand times, there 
has come over me a revulsion from the torture of 
recalling these still poignant sorrows. Moreover, other 
cares and other griefs have kept me away from these 

At the end of February I was at Doom ; on the 2yth 
my parents celebrated the fortieth anniversary of 
their wedding-day. Celebrated ? No, it was not a 
celebration. Everything in the beautiful and well- 
kept house was sad and depressed. My mother was 
confined to her couch ; and her weakness permitted 
her only occasional hours of waking. She was so 
feeble that she could scarcely speak ; and yet the 
slightest attention was received with "Thank you, 
my dear boy " ; and then she gently stroked my 
hand. It made one lock one's lips hard together. 
The foreboding that on that day I held her in my 
arms for the last time never after left me. 

All subsequent reports damped every hope of 
recovery. One could only pray : " Lord, let it not 
last long ! " In six weeks' time the last sad news 
reached me in the island. 



We went to Doom ; and during all the long hours 
of the journey, I was unable to grasp the idea that she 
would never speak to me again, that her kind eyes 
would never more be turned upon me. She was the 
magnet that drew us children, wherever we might be, 
towards the parental home. She knew all our wishes, 
our hopes, our cares. Now she had been taken from 
us for ever. 

Changed, empty, strange appeared to me park and 
house and everything. 

My poor father ! Whatever his outward demeanour, 
I knew that his inmost heart was shaken. His old 
pride, his determination not to allow others to see his 
emotion, his resolve to bear himself like a king, sup- 
ported him so long as we and other people were present. 
But the loneliness ! 

That night I was alone with my beloved mother 
for the last time. Through the hours of darkness, I 
kept a long quiet vigil beside her coffin. In that 
solemn, still chamber, with its heavy odours of wreaths 
and flowers and soft shine of the burning tapers, there 
floated before my memory an endless procession of 
pictures out of the past. 

Her delight when I reported to her as a ten-year-old 
lieutenant, and that the parade went off all right in spite 
of the shortness of my legs and the difficulty they 
had in keeping step with the long-limbed grenadiers ! 

Her beaming face when she held my bride in her 
arms for the first time and said : " My dear boy, you 
have made a good choice " ; from that day onwards 
till the end, a great love knit the two women together. 

I saw her sitting at the bedside of my brothers Fritz 
and Joachim during a severe illness, night after night, 
untiringly a devoted nurse, a mother who would 
have immolated her own self. 

I saw her at court festivities, in all the splendour of 


the crown a tall and noble figure with a wealth of 
prematurely grey hair above the fresh, kind face ; 
while every word showed a simple, cordial, generous 
nature, with the power of attaching and understanding 

Then, ever and again, in her writing-room at the 
New Palace. It is in the interval between my morning 
and afternoon duties. I have ridden over to the palace, 
and now, while she listens and replies, I walk up and 
down before her. She is my confessor who always 
finds the right advice and the best solution in all my 
little difficulties ; and in the heart of that woman, 
seemingly so unversed in politics, there was ample 
room for serious thought for the Fatherland in all 
its extent and all its greatness. Her clear recognition 
of many an error caused her to suffer in a quiet 
hidden way far more anxiety than the outside world 
ever imagined. 

Then the war-time care upon care, care upon care. 

And then all that followed. 

I see her there in the garden of Doom House. She 
is seated in a little pony-carriage ; and I hold her 
hand and walk beside her. " My boy," she says, 
' yes, it is beautiful here, but oh ! it is not my Pots- 
dam, the New Palace, my little rose-garden, our home. 
If you only knew how homesickness often gnaws at 
me within. Oh, I shall never see my home again." 

Now she lies at rest in the homeland earth to which 
her last longings went forth. 

For a part of the way (as far as Maarn Station) I 
accompanied her on her homeward journey; then I 
turned back to my island here. 

Days of sadness followed ; not an hour went by 
in which my thoughts were not with her ; but what 
was told me in a thousand letters of how unforgotten 
she was in the homeland, of the love that had sprung 


up from the seed she had sown, that, at least was a 
great comfort to me. Then, too, my brother-in-law, 
the Duke of Brunswick, was with me for a few days. 
Sissy is to remain for the present at Doom, so as to 
lighten my father's sorrow in the first great loneliness 
and to bring a woman's voice into that beautiful and 
yet so friendless house. 

But I must now proceed to set down what I have to 
say concerning that last and bitterest experience of 
our breakdown. God knows it is more difficult for me 
than all that I have recorded hitherto. 

On the evening of November 8, 1918, I received at 
Waulsort an unexpected command from His Majesty 
to report myself to him next morning at Spa. Not 
a word as to what it concerned or what he wanted 
of me. I had only the knowledge that this summons 
could not portend anything good, and a foreboding of 
fresh agonizing conflicts. 

In cold, gloomy weather, I motored through a heavy 
fog that seemed to smother the whole countryside. 
Everything apathetic, comfortless, dreary and devas- 
tated ; the half-demolished houses, their plaster 
crumbling from their damaged walls ; the interminable 
roads, ground by the violent jerkings of a hundred 
thousand wheels and pounded by the iron-shod hoofs 
of a hundred thousand horses. And those wan, 
haggard faces, so full of bitterness and sorrow and 
misery, as though their owners would never again be 
able to win through to fresh faith in life. 

The car jolted through fields of mud, splashing the 
brown mire about it in huge fountains ; it rushed 
heedlessly past columns of weary soldiers and troops and 
groups of men who had once been soldiers and who, 
now disbanded, trudged their way laden with a medley 
of odds and ends ; it left behind it curses and cries 
and fists raised in the grey mist. 


On and on. 

Soon after midday we arrived at Spa, stiff and frozen 
to the marrow. 

The Kaiser was lodged in} Villa Fraineuse, just 
outside the town. 

General von Gontard, the Court Marshal, received 
me in the hall. His face wore a serious and very 
anxious look. In reply to my questions, all he did 
was to raise his hands helplessly ; but the gesture 
said more than any words could have done. 

My Chief of Staff, Count Schulenburg, was also 
there. He had been in Spa since the early morning, 
and, until my arrival, had been advocating our views 
with the Kaiser. Pale and manifestly profoundly 
moved, this strong man, full of a keen sense of 
responsibility and fine fidelity to his sovereign, 
proceeded, rapidly and in brief soldierly words, to 
give me an outline of the incidents into whose develop- 
ment we were now being dragged, and urgently 
begged me to do everything possible to persuade 
His Majesty against over-hasty and irretrievable 

According to Schulenburg's report, the course of 
events so far had been as follows : 

In the early morning, my father had thoroughly 
discussed the situation with Major Niemann, of his 
General Staff, and had resolved boldly to face the 
threatening revolution. With this firm resolve, the 
Kaiser had taken part in a discussion at which the 
Field-Marshal General, with General Groner, Plessen, 
Marschall, von Hintze, Herr von Griinau, and Major 
Niemann were present. The Field-Marshal General 
had opened the deliberations with a few words that 
revealed clearly that he was on the point of giving up 
everything : he must first ask His Majesty to permit 
him to resign, since what he had to say could not, he 


felt, be said by a Prussian officer to his King and lord. 

Only the Kaiser's head twitched. First let us hear 
what it is. 

Then General GrSner had spoken. As Schulenburg 
sketched things, I could see and hear Groner Groner 
the new man who had been only a fortnight in the 
place vacated by Ludendorff, and was hampered by 
no such considerations as those which choked the 
words in the throat of the old Field-Marshal General. 
A new tone, which brusquely and aggressively broke 
away from all tradition, which endeavoured, by des- 
pising the past, to gain inward strength for the coming 

General Groner's words, as reported to me by 
Schulenburg, had they been the final truth, would 
indeed have signified the end : the military position 
of the. armies desperate ; the troops wavering and 
unreliable, with rations for a few days only, with 
hunger, dissolution and pillage threatening to follow 
after ; the homeland blazing up in unquenchable 
revolution ; the available reserves to be called up 
refractory, demoralized and rushing to join the red 
flag ; the whole hinterland, railways, telegraphs, 
Rhine bridges, depots and junctions in the hands of 
the revolutionaries ; Berlin at the highest pitch of 
tension which, at any moment, might snap and bathe 
the city in blood ; to throw the army against the civil 
war at home with the enemy in the rear would be 
quite impossible. These views of his and the Field- 
Marshal General's had been endorsed by the divisional 
chiefs and by most of the representatives of the 
General Higher Command. Although not expressly, 
this report contained implicitly a demand for my 
father's abdication. 

Speechless and deeply moved, my father had 
listened to these deplorably gloomy statements. A 


benumbing silence followed. Then, seeing from a 
movement on the part of my Chief of Staff, that he 
wished to be heard, the Kaiser sprang up and said : > 
" Speak, Count ! Your opinion ? " 
Count Schulenburg then replied as follows : 
That he could not regard the remarks of the Quarter- 
master-General as a true description of the state of 
affairs. For example, the Army Group of the Crown 
Prince, despite great difficulties and hardships, had 
fought brilliantly through the long autumn campaign 
and was still firm and unbroken in the hands of its 
leaders. After its tremendous efforts, it was now 
exhausted, overtaxed, and filled with imperative 
longing for rest. If a definite armistice should come 
about, if the troops were granted a few days' repose, 
the refreshment of sleep and tolerably good rations, 
if the leaders were given a chance to come once more 
into closer touch with the men, and of exercising an 
influence over them, then the general frame of mind 
would improve. It would, indeed, be quite impossible 
to wheel round the troops of the whole west front to 
face civil war in Germany ; but this was not within 
the bounds of necessity. What was needed was 
resolute and manly resistance to activities which had 
unfortunately been allowed free play much too long, 
the immediate and energetic suppression of the 
insurgents at the centres of the movement, the rigorous 
re-establishment of order and authority ! The question 
of rationing had been depicted by General Groner in 
much too sombre tints ; the effects of energetic 
proceedings against the Bolshevists in the rear of the 
army would be a fresh rally of the loyal elements in 
the country and the smothering of the revolutionary 
movement. Hence there should be no yielding to 
the threats of criminal violence, no abdication, but no 
civil war either only the armed restoration of order 


at the spots indicated. For this purpose the mass of 
the troops would, without question, stand loyally by 
their Kaiser. 

The Kaiser had accepted this view. Consequently, 
opposition had arisen between my Chief of Staff 
and General Groner, who, in the course of this dis- 
cussion, had persisted in his assertions that matters 
had gone too far for the measures proposed by Schulen- 
burg to stand any chance of success. According to 
his version, the ramifications of the insurgent move- 
ment covered the entire homeland, the revolutionaries 
would cut off all supplies intended for any army 
operating against them, and, moreover, the army 
was no longer reliable, nor did it any longer support 
the Kaiser. 

The views put forward by General Groner found a 
certain confirmation in the many telephone messages 
which arrived from the Imperial Chancellory during 
the discussion ; these reported sanguinary street 
fighting and the defection of the home troops to the 
ranks of the revolutionaries, and repeatedly demanded 
abdication. They evidently proceeded from a state 
of panic ; and, on account of their urgent character, 
made a deep impression ; but to what extent they 
were founded upon fact could not be tested. 

In spite of all this, the Kaiser had stood resolutely by 
his original decision. But, in face of the irreconcilable 
opposition between the two views of the situation 
and the logical conclusions involved, he had ultimately 
turned to General Groner and declared with great 
firmness that, in this exceedingly grave matter, he 
could not acquiesce in the opinion expressed by the 
General but must insist upon a written statement 
signed by Field-Marshal General von Hindenburg 
and by General Groner a statement based upon 
opinions to be obtained from all the army leaders of 


the west front. He would never for a moment enter- 
tain the thought of waging a civil war ; but he held 
firmly to his desire to lead the army back home in good 
order after the conclusion of the armistice. 

General Groner had then adopted an attitude which 
seemed to indicate that he regarded all further discus- 
sion as a useless loss of time in face of a definitely 
fixed programme ; he had brusquely and slightingly 
confined himself to remarking : " The army will 
march back home in good order under its leaders and 
commanding generals, but not under the leadership 
of Your Majesty." 

In reply to the agitated question of my father : 
" How do you come to make such a report ? Count 
Schulenburg reports the reverse ! " Groner said : 
"I have different information."* 

In response to a further protest by my Chief of 
Staff, the Field-Marshal General had finally relinquished 
his attitude of reserve. With every respect for the 
spirit of loyalty displayed in Schulenburg's views, he 
had come to the practical conclusion of General Groner, 
namely, that, on the basis of information received by 
the Higher Command from home and from the armies, 
it must be assumed that the revolution could no 

* It must be recorded here that General GrOner made this report 
to my father long before the vote had been placed before the 
commanders at the front. What " other information," then, did 
the First Quartermaster-General possess, and from which leader 
of the west front did it proceed ? These questions still remain 
unanswered. From none of the four armies placed in my charge 
did I ever receive any report which could justify General Grower's 
conclusion in regard to the front or even concerning the rear of my 
armies. The information referred to by General GrOner he must 
have received on the yth or 8th of November, for at Charleville he 
was still in good spirits, on the 5th he had ardently taken the part 
of the Kaiser, and on the 6th the General Higher Command wrote 
to the armies on the west front that, for the armies, there was no 
Kaiser question and that.true to their oath, they stood immutably 
loyal to their Chief War Lord. 


longer be suppressed. Like Groner, he, too, was unable 
to take upon himself responsibility for the trust- 
worthiness of the troops. 

Finally, the Kaiser had closed the discussion with a 
repetition of his desire that the commanders-in-chief 
should be asked for their views. " If you report to 
me," he said, " that the army is no longer loyal to me, 
I shall be prepared to go but not till then ! " 

From these discussions and decisions it was clear 
that the Kaiser was willing to sacrifice his person to 
the interests of the German people and to the main- 
tenance of internal and external possibilities of peace. 
At the conclusion of the parley, Count Schulenburg 
had called particular attention to the fact that, in any 
decisions of the Kaiser's, questions concerning the 
Imperial Crown must be carefully distinguished from 
those of the Prussian royal throne. At the very most, 
only an abdication of the Kaiser could be involved ; 
there was no need, even if the worst came to the 
worst, of any talk of a renunciation of the throne of 
Prussia. For this standpoint he had propounded 
weighty reasons ; and he had also expressed the 
opinion that the alarming telephone messages from 
Berlin needed careful investigation before they could 
be made the basis of any resolve. 

My father had assured him that, in any circum- 
stances, he would remain King of Prussia and that, as 
such, he would not desert the army. Furthermore, 
he had at once ordered an immediate inquiry to be 
made by telephone of the Governor of Berlin concerning 
the situation there ; he had then walked into the 
garden accompanied by some of the gentlemen of his 
suite ; while the Field-Marshal General, General 
Groner and Count von Schulenburg had remained 
behind in the Council Chamber. In the ensuing dis- 
cussion on the last statements of Schulenburg, the 


Field-Marshal General also expressed the opinion that 
the Kaiser must, in all circumstances, maintain himself 
as King of Prussia, whereas General Groner remained 
sceptical of this, and was indeed completely opposed 
to such a claim. He stated that a free decision 
to this effect, if taken by the Kaiser some weeks 
earlier, might perhaps have effected a change in the 
situation ; but that, in his opinion, it now came 
too late to be of any value in combating the revolt 
now blazing in Germany and spreading rapidly every 

What had followed next, blow after blow, had 
seemingly been calculated to justify this view of General 
Groner's if it could be accepted as the actual truth 
with regard to conditions and feelings at home. The 
answer of the Chief of the General Staff with the 
Berlin Government, Colonel von Berge, had arrived 
and had brought a confirmation (though a qualified 
one) of the reports furnished by the Imperial Chan- 
cellory bloody street-fighting, desertion of the troops 
to the revolutionaries, no means whatever in the hands 
of the Government for combating the movement ; 
furthermore, an appeal by Prince Max of Baden 
stating that civil war was inevitable unless His 
Majesty announced his abdication within the next few 

With these messages, the Field- Marshal General, 
General Groner and His Excellency von Hintze had 
hurried into the garden and were now reporting the 
matter to the Kaiser, while Count von Schulenburg 
was explaining the situation to me. 

I now went with my Chief of Staff to join the 

He stood in the garden surrounded by a group of 

Never shall I forget the picture of that half-score of 


men in their grey uniforms, thrown into relief by the 
withered and faded flower-beds of ending autumn, 
and framed by the surrounding mist-mantled hills 
with their glorious foliages of vanishing green and 
every shade of brown, of yellow, and of red. 

The Kaiser stood there as though he had suddenly 
halted with them in the midst of a nervous pacing 
up and down. He was passionately excited, and 
addressing himself to those near him with violently 
expressive gestures. His eyes were upon General 
Groner and His Excellency von Hintze ; but a glance 
was cast now and then at the Field-Marshal General, 
who, with his gaze fixed in the distance, nodded 
silently ; and an occasional look was also turned 
towards the white-haired General von Plessen. Some- 
what aloof from the group stood General von Marschall, 
the Legation Councillor von Griinau, and Major von 

With their bowed attitudes, most of the men seemed 
oppressed by the thought that there was no egress 
from their entanglement seemed, while the Kaiser 
alone spoke, to have been paralysed into muteness. 

Catching sight of me, my father beckoned me to 
approach and, himself, came forward a few paces. 

And now, as I stood opposite him, I saw clearly 
how distraught were his features how his emaciated 
and sallow face twitched and trembled. 

He left me scarcely time to greet the Field-Marshal 
General and the rest ; hastily he addressed himself 
to me, and, while the others retired a little and General 
Groner returned to the house, he burst upon me with 
all he had to say. He poured out to me the facts 
without the slightest reserve, reiterated much of what 
Schulenburg had reported just before, supplemented 
the particulars, and gave me a deeper insight into the 
character of the catastrophe which was threatening to 


spring from instability and demoralization of will and 
energy. As I had only just arrived from my Army 
Group and the seclusion of the front, I was still 
endeavouring to grasp and master all that Schulenburg 
had told me, but I now learned that yesterday evening, 
before he summoned me to Spa, a thorough discussion 
had taken place concerning the situation, in which 
General Groner had urgently dissuaded the Kaiser 
from returning home from attempting " to penetrate 
into the interior." Insurrectionary masses were on 
their way to Venders and Spa, and there were no 
longer any trustworthy troops whatever ! Nor, said 
he, durst my father proceed to the front with any such 
intention as to die fighting ; in view of the approaching 
armistice, such a step might give rise to false deduc- 
tions on the part of the Entente, and thus cause 
even greater mischief and still further bloodshed. My 
father also informed me that, according to the state- 
ments of these gentlemen, the cities of Cologne, Hanover, 
Brunswick and Munich were in the hands of the Work- 
men's and Soldiers' Councils, while in Kiel and 
Wilhelmshafen the revolution had broken out, and 
that, in view of the apparent necessity for his abdi- 
cation as Kaiser, he was going to transfer to the Field- 
Marshal General the chief command of the German 

Notwithstanding my great perturbation, I at once 
tried to intervene and to check wherever, in my opinion, 
it appeared possible; despite the hitherto precipitate 
course of events, to call a halt, and wherever a halt 
was essential, unless everything were to be lost. Even 
if the abdication of the Kaiser as such could really no 
longer be avoided, he must, at any rate, unflinchingly 
remain King of Prussia. 

" Of course ! " The words were uttered in such a 
matter-of-fact way and his eyes were so firmly fixed 



on mine that much appeared to me to have been gained 

I also emphasized the necessity for his remaining 
with the army in all circumstances, and I suggested 
his coming with me and marching back at the head 
of my troops. 

General Groner now joined the other group again, 
accompanied by Colonel Heye, who, as I learned, had 
come from a conference of front officers convoked as a 
sort of council by the Higher Command without 
consulting the chief commanders of the army or the 
army groups, the vote of this council being taken by 
Groner to be decisive. 

In reply to the Kaiser's command, Colonel Heye 
reported to the following effect : The question had 
been put to the commanders whether, in the event 
of a civil war at home, the troops could be relied upon : 
the answer was in the negative ; the trustworthiness 
of the troops had not been unconditionally guaranteed 
by certain of these commanders. 

Count von der Schulenburg intervened. He adduced 
what we, who were familiar with our men, knew from 
personal experience ; above all this one thing, that 
the great majority of the army, if faced with the 
question whether they would break their oaths and 
desert their sovereign and chief war lord in the time 
of need, would certainly prove true to their Kaiser. 

At this, General Groner merely shrugged his shoulders 
and sneered superciliously : " Military oaths ! War 
lords ! Those are, after all, only words those are, 
when all is said, mere ideas." 

Here were two systems which no bridge could join, 
two conceptions which no mutual comprehension could 
reconcile. The one was the Prussian officer, loyal in 
his duty and devotion to Kaiser and to King, ready 


to live and die in the fulfilment of the oath which he 
had taken as a young man ; the other, the man who 
doubtless never had taken things so earnestly or with 
such a sense of sacred obligation, who had regarded 
them rather as symbol and " idea," who was always 
desirous of being " modern " and whose more supple 
mentality now freed itself without any difficulty from 
engagements that threatened to become awkward. 

Once more Schulenburg replied, telling the general 
that such statements as his only showed that he did 
not know the heart and mind of the men at the front, 
that the army was true to its oath and that, at the 
end of those four years of war, it would not abandon 
its Kaiser. 

He was still speaking, when he was interrupted by 
His Excellency von Hintze, who had meantime 
received further reports from Berlin and wished to 
lay the evil tidings before the Kaiser. The Imperial 
Chancellor, Prince Max, he said, tendered his resigna- 
tion and reported that the situation had become so 
extremely menacing in Berlin that the monarchy 
could no longer be saved unless the Kaiser resolved 
upon immediate abdication. 

The Kaiser received the news with grave silence. 
His firmly compressed lips were colourless ; his face 
was livid and had aged by years. Only those who 
knew him as I did could tell what he was suffering 
at this impatiently urged demand of the Chancellor, 
despite the well maintained mask of calmness and 

When Hintze had finished, he gave a brief nod ; 
and his eyes sought those of the Field-Marshal General 
as though searching them for strength and succour 
in his anguish. But he found nothing. Motionless, 
shaken to the depths of his being, silenced by despair, 
the great old man stood mute, while his King and 


lord, whom he had served so long and so faithfully as 
a soldier, moved on to the fulfilment of his destiny. 

The Kaiser was alone. Not one of all the men of 
the General Higher Command, not one of the men 
whom Ludendorff had once welded into a strong 
entity, hastened to his assistance. Here, as at home, 
disruption and demoralization. Here, where an iron 
will should have been busily at work enforcing itself 
in every position of authority and gathering all the 
reliable troops at the front for heroic deeds, there was 
only one vast void. The spirit of General Groner was 
now dominant, and that spirit left the Kaiser to his 

Hoarse, strange and unreal was my father's voice 
as he instructed Hintze, who was still waiting, to 
telephone the Imperial Chancellor that he was prepared 
to renounce the Imperial Crown, if only in this way 
general civil war in Germany could be avoided, but 
that he remained King of Prussia and would not leave 
his army. 

The gentlemen were silent. The State Secretary 
was about to depart, when Schulenburg pointed out 
that it was, in any case, essential first to make a 
written record of this highly momentous decision of 
His Majesty. Not until such a document had been 
ratified and signed could it be communicated to the 
Imperial Chancellor. 

The Kaiser expressed his thanks. Yes, he said, 
that was true ; and he instructed Lieutenant-General 
von Plessen, General von Marschall, His Excellency 
von Hintze and Count von der Schulenburg to draw 
up the declaration and submit it to him for signature. 

Accordingly, we went indoors again. 

While the gentlemen were still at work on the 
document, there came another telephone call from 
Berlin. The chef of the Imperial Chancellory, His 


Excellency von Wahnschaffe, asked urgently for the 
declaration of abdication ; he was informed by Count 
von der Schulenburg that the decision already come 
to by His Majesty was being formulated and would be 
forthwith despatched to the Imperial Government. 

The document did not contain the abdication of the 
Kaiser, but expressed his willingness to abdicate if 
thereby alone further bloodshed and, above all, civil 
war, would be avoided. It also stressed the fact that 
he remained King of Prussia and would lead the troops 
back home in perfect order. 

According to this resolve there lay upon the Chan- 
cellor the duty of reporting afresh concerning the 
development of the situation at home. Then, and not 
before, the final Imperial decision would have followed. 

His Excellency von Hintze undertook to telephone 
the wording of the document to the Imperial Chan- 

It was now one o'clock, and we proceeded to lunch. 
That silent meal, in a bright, white room whose table 
was decked with flowers but surrounded only by bitter 
anguish and despairing grief, is among the most 
horrible of my recollections. Not one of us but masked 
his face, not one who did not make fitful attempts, 
for that half-hour, to hide his uneasiness and not to talk 
of the phantom which lurked behind him and could 
not for a single moment be forgotten. Every mouthful 
seemed to swell and threaten to choke the eater. 
The whole meal resembled some dismal funeral repast. 

After this unbearably painful lunch, His Majesty 
remained in conversation with me and Schulenburg. 
A few minutes after two o'clock, he was called away 
by General von Plessen, as State Secretary von Hintze, 
while telephoning to Berlin, had been surprised by a 
fresh communication. 

We others remained behind in anxious suspense, 


fearing that some unforeseen incident had occurred 
which would still further complicate the already 
bewildered and confused situation. Those few minutes 
seemed like an age to'me. 

Presently Schulenburg and I were ordered to the 

Notwithstanding the apparent self-control and 
dignity he had forced himself to assume, he was 
excessively agitated in mind. As though still in doubt 
whether what he had just passed through could be 
reality and truth, he told us that he had just received 
information from the Imperial Chancellory to the effect 
that a message announcing his abdication as Kaiser 
and as King of Prussia and, at the same time, declaring 
my renunciation in a similar sense, had been issued 
by Prince Max of Baden and disseminated by Wolff's 
Bureau without the Kaiser's declaration having been 
awaited and without my being consulted in the matter ; 
further, that the Prince had resigned his post of 
Imperial Chancellor and had been appointed Imperial 
Regent, while the social-democratic Reichstag deputy, 
Ebert, was now Imperial Chancellor. 

We were all so dazed and paralysed by this startling 
news that for the moment, we could hardly speak. 
Then we immediately endeavoured to ascertain and 
establish the sequence of these unexampled pro- 

His Excellency von Hintze had just begun to 
telephone the declaration drawn up by His Majesty, 
when he was interrupted. This declaration, he was 
told, was quite futile ; it would have to be the complete 
abdication, as Kaiser and as King of Prussia also, 
and Herr von Hintze must listen to what was about 
to be 'phoned him ! The State Secretary had pro- 
tested against this interruption and had declared that 
the decision of His Majesty must now be heard before 


anything else. This he proceeded to read ; but he 
had no sooner finished than Berlin informed him that 
a declaration had already been published by Wolff's 
Bureau and immediately afterwards communicated to 
the various troops by wireless telegrams ; this declara- 
tion stated : " The Kaiser and King has resolved to 
abdicate the throne. The Imperial Chancellor remains 
in office till the questions connected with the abdication 
of the Kaiser, the renunciation of the throne by the 
Crown Prince of the German Empire and of Prussia, 
and the appointment to the regency are settled. ..." 
The State Secretary, von Hintze, had forthwith entered 
a categorical protest against this proclamation, which 
had been issued without the Kaiser's authorization 
and did not represent in the least His Majesty's 
decisions. Von Hintze had repeatedly demanded the 
presence of the Imperial Chancellor himself at the 
telephone ; and Prince Max of Baden had then, in 
reply to Hintze's inquiry, personally acknowledged 
his authorship of the published proclamation and 
declared himself prepared to accept the responsibility 
for doing so. 

Thus, he did not for one moment deny that he 
was the originator of this incomprehensible step, 
namely, publishing, without His Majesty's authoriza- 
tion, decisions ostensibly his which he had never 
agreed to in such a form and forestalling in a way 
that to say the least of it was casual, my own decisions 
in a matter that had not yet been even broached by a 
single word. 

In the excited and credulous mood of the people 
at home and of the troops, it was clear to us that by 
the Prince's extraordinary behaviour the appearance 
of an accomplished fact had been created which was 
to cut the ground we stood upon from under our feet. 

With a clearer judgment as to what had happened 


to His Majesty and to me, and clearer views concerning 
what now needed to be done, we crossed over into the 
room where the other gentlemen were assembled. 

Great consternation at the monstrous proceedings 
seized them also. Cries of indignation mingled with 
suggestions as to how this crafty coup was to be 

Schulenburg and I importuned His Majesty never, 
under any circumstances, to submit to this coup d'etat, 
but to oppose the machinations of the Prince by 
every possible means and to abide unalterably by his 
previously formed resolution. The Count also em- 
phasized the fact that this incident rendered it all the 
more essential for the Kaiser, as chief war lord, to 
remain with the army. 

For this advice we found some support from General 
von Marschall and specially also from the old Colonel- 
General von Plessen, whose faithful and chivalrous 
nature and strong soldierly instinct burst through the 
courtier-like formalities usually carefully observed by 
him and flared up indignantly at the disgraceful blow 
aimed at his Kaiser and the entire dynasty. It was 
of great importance that, by personal inquiry, he 
was able to prove the untenability of Groner's assertion 
that the troops at head-quarters had become unreliable 
and no longer afforded the Kaiser sufficient protection. 

Count von der Schulenburg and I offered to undertake 
the suppression of the revolutionary elements at home, 
proposing first to restore order in Cologne. But this 
suggestion the Kaiser declined to entertain, as he 
would have no war of Germans against Germans. 

Finally, he declared repeatedly and with great 
emphasis that he abode by his decision to abdicate if 
necessary as Kaiser, but that he remained King of 
Prussia, and as such would not leave the troops. He 
instructed General von Plessen, General von Marschall 


and His Excellency von Hintze to report at once to 
the Field -Marshal General concerning what had hap- 
pened in Berlin and his own attitude. 

Somewhat encouraged by this firm mood of my 
father's, who now seemed to see his way clearly through 
all the entanglements and difficulties, I took leave of 
him, my duties as Commander-in-Chief requiring my 
presence in the head-quarters of the Army Group at 

As I held his hand in mine, I never imagined that I 
should not see him again for a year, and that it would 
then be in Holland. 

Count von der Schulenburg remained in Spa. 

It was from him, and not from personal experience, 
that I gathered my information concerning the further 
events of that fatal gth of November in Spa. 

Schulenburg, who, together with me, had taken leave 
of the Kaiser, had been called back by him once more. 
My father had repeated : "I remain King of Prussia 
and, as such, I do not abdicate ; and I also remain 
with the troops ! ' Then, as it was impossible to 
recognize the revolutionary Government in Berlin, 
the question of the armistice was discussed. Who was 
to conclude it ? His Majesty decided that Field- 
Marshal von Hindenburg should take over the supreme 
command and be responsible for conducting the 
negotiations. At the close of the conversation, the 
Kaiser held out his hand to Count Schulenburg and 
repeated : "I remain with the army. Tell the troops 

On leaving His Majesty, Schulenburg proceeded to 
the quarters of the Field-Marshal General, where, 
together with General Groner, General von Marschall, 
State Secretary von Hintze and the Legation Councillor 
von Griinau, a conference was commenced at half- 
past three concerning the situation created by Berlin. 


General Groner declared that there were no military 
means of counteracting the abdication proclaimed in 
Berlin. At the suggestion of His Excellency von 
Hintze, it was decided to draw up a written protest 
against the declaration of abdication, which had been 
proclaimed without the consent or approval of the 
Kaiser, and to have this document signed by the 
Kaiser and deposited in a secure place. In discussing 
the personal safety of the Kaiser, for which General 
Groner declined all responsibility, the question was 
raised as to what domicile the Kaiser could select if 
any development of affairs should force him to go 
abroad, and Holland was mentioned. Count Schulen- 
burg stood alone in his opinion that it would be a 
grave mistake if His Majesty left the army. He urged 
that His Majesty should join the Army Group, the 
way being open. 

Fully confident in the Kaiser's firm resolve, Count 
von Schulenburg, accompanied by the other members 
of the Army Group Staff, had then driven back to 
Vielsalm, where his presence was urgently required 
on account of the tense situation at the front. 

As I stated in describing the events at Spa on 
November 9, the views obtained from a conference of 
officers from the front by Colonel Heye submitting 
to them certain questions were adduced as evidence 
in support of the Chief Quartermaster-General's 
opinion on the prevailing mood of the troops at the 
front. At my instance, an officer of the Army Group 
General Staff, who had accompanied Count Schulenburg 
to Spa, made a record of the character and the pro- 
cedure of this council convoked direct by the General 
Higher Command. I append this document here as 
a key to the temper and the mental condition prevalent 
at Spa, and because it is necessary to a right under- 
standing of what took place. On account of the 


relations of the officer to the service, his name is 

, November 14, '19. 

My Experiences at General Head-quarters on November 

9, 1918. 

(Written from memory.*) 

In the night of the Sth-gth November, General 
Count von der Schulenburg received a telephone call 
from Major von Stiilpnagel ordering him to come to 
Spa on November 9. Major von Bock took the 
message. No information was given as to why Count 
Schulenburg should come or who wished to see him. 
Count Schulenburg was rather astonished when Bock 
brought him the message, but he at once gave orders 
for his departure on the 9th. He appointed Captain 
X of the General Staff, Orderly Officer Lieutenant Y, 
and myself to accompany him. The same morning, 
instructions had been given to transfer the quarters 
of the Upper Command of the Army Group from 
Waulsort to Vielsalm. 

At 8.30 a.m. on November 9, we reached the Hotel 
Britannique in Spa. On our arrival, we were struck 
by the fact that in the hall of the hotel there was 
assembled a large body of officers not belonging to the 
Higher Command and that others were continually 
arriving. They were exclusively officers from the 
front ; no commander-in-chief , commanding generals, 
chefs or other general staff officers were present. 

Count Schulenburg at once proceeded to the Opera- 
tions Department on the first floor in order to inquire 
the reasons for his being summoned. On the way 
upstairs he met Colonel Heye. This officer was 

* Use has also been made of certain notes written by Captain X 
and myself on December 2, 1918, and now in the possession of 
Count Schulenburg. 


manifestly surprised to see Count Schulenburg. After 
a short conversation, which I could not hear, Schulen- 
burg returned to me saying : ' We are evidently not 
wanted here at all. We have rushed into an affair 
which does not concern us, but we will see what is 
really going on ! " 

From the numerous officers standing around, we 
learned that they had all been ordered to attend a 
meeting at 9 a.m. Apparently, from each of the 
divisions of the army groups Rupprecht, Kronprinz 
and Gallwitz, a selected officer, divisional commander 
and infantry brigade or infantry regiment commander 
had been summoned and had been rapidly brought 
along by motor-car. No information concerning these 
orders had reached the Upper Command of the Army 
Group. The reason for the conference could only be 
guessed. The first idea was that it concerned the 
expected armistice. But rumours were circulating 
about measures to oppose the spread of the revolu- 
tionary movement in Germany ; there was unverifiable 
news of civil war at home, of the westward advance 
of mutinous sailors through Aix-la-Chapelle, Bonn 
and Coblenz, of the blocking of the railways along 
the Rhine and the consequent entire stoppage of the 
commissariat. From the few members of the General 
Higher Command whom I managed to see, no further 
information was to be obtained in the hurry of the 
moment. Those whom I saw appeared dejected and 
rather desponding. It must be added here that, for 
nearly a fortnight, the Upper Command of the Army 
Group had received through the post neither news- 
papers nor letters, and that we were, therefore, in- 
adequately informed as to the situation at home, 
while the front had been living for weeks on nothing 
but rumours. Hence I observed that the officers 
arriving from the front accepted without any criticism 


even very unfavourable reports circulating in the 
conference. A suitable soil for pessimism was, more- 
over, prepared in them by the fact that almost all had 
been fetched, just as they were, from the retreating 
battles in which they had been righting for weeks and 
which were excessively exhausting and in every way 
depressing. Most of them, too, had travelled in many 
cases hundreds of kilometres, in open cars and clad 
in thin coats ; and they were cold, unwashed and 

Soon after the conversation with Colonel Heye, 
Count Schulenburg, together with Captain X and 
myself, went to the hotel dining-room, where the 
officers from the front were assembling. In talking 
to various acquaintances, my impression was strength- 
ened that, for the reasons already adduced, these 
officers were in a very depressed mood. Meantime, 
Colonel- General von Plessen and General von Marschall 
had entered the room. Their dejected spirits were 
noticeable. When they caught sight of Count Schulen- 
burg, who stood near me, they at once came up and 
began talking to him. I could only hear fragments 
of the conversation and guess its general tenor. But 
almost at the outset, Count Schulenburg said to the 
two of them very sharply : " Have you all gone mad 
here ? ' Later he said, among other things : ' ' The 
army stands firmly by the Kaiser." I noticed that 
Colonel-General von Plessen and General Marschall 
drew fresh confidence from the conversation with 
Count Schulenburg ; and I heard the words " Schulen- 
burg must go with us at once to the Kaiser." The 
meeting had not yet been opened, and Colonel-General 
von Plessen and General von Marschall very soon took 
Count Schulenburg out of the room and drove with 
him to His Majesty. Captain X, Lieutenant Y and I 
stayed behind. Captain X and I decided to remain 


at the meeting, although we both felt that we were 
anything but welcome there. 

About nine o'clock, Field-Marshal General von 
Hindenburg, accompanied by Colonel Heye and a few 
other members of the Higher Command, entered the 
room. The Field-Marshal, having welcomed the officers 
assembled by his orders, thanked them warmly for 
all that they had hitherto done ; he then characterized 
the situation as serious but not desperate, and pro- 
ceeded to explain the object of the meeting. In 
Germany, he said, revolution had broken out, and, 
in some places, blood had already flowed. The 
resignation of the Kaiser was being demanded. The 
Higher Command hoped to be able to oppose this 
demand, if the requisite assurances were given them 
by the army at the front. On these questions which 
Colonel Heye would presently lay before them, the 
gentlemen were to express their views. In further 
delineation of the position of affairs, the Field-Marshal 
stated roughly that it was a question for His Majesty 
whether he could march to Berlin at the head of the 
entire army in order to recover there the Imperial and 
Royal crown. For this purpose, however no 
armistice having as yet been concluded and the railways 
not being available the whole army, with the enemy 
of course following rapidly in its rear, would have to 
wheel round and march for two or three weeks, fighting 
all the way, in the endeavour to reach Berlin. Special 
emphasis was laid by the Field-Marshal upon the 
difficulties of getting supplies of all kinds, since every- 
thing was in the hands of the insurgents, and he laid 
stress on the fatigues and privations to which the 
troops would be unceasingly subjected. 

After this description of the situation all of whose 
points were given by the Field-Marshal, not by Colonel 
Heye the former left the meeting. I remember that 


my first impression, as I uttered it to Captain X, was 
something like this : It is regrettable that the 
generally revered Field-Marshal, whom many of those 
present had certainly just seen for the first time, should 
have been obliged to address them on such a sad matter 
and that he had given them a sketch of the military 
situation which many critical minds could only regard 
with considerable scepticism. For me there could be 
no doubt that, after such a representation of affairs, 
only negative answers could be expected. 

Meanwhile, the attendance at the meeting was 
continually being increased by new arrivals, though 
many did not get in till after midday, when the answer 
to the questions had been long since reported to His 
Majesty. These questions two or three in number 
were put to the meeting by Colonel Heye. Their 
wording has escaped my memory ; but roughly it was 
asked whether, under the watchword " For the 
Kaiser," the Higher Command could, with any 
prospect of success, call upon the troops at the front 
to march to Berlin and thus unloose a civil war, or 
whether the army could no longer be had for this 
purpose. Colonel Heye requested the gentlemen to 
consider this important matter each for himself and 
uninfluenced by one another. After the lapse of a 
certain time, he would invite the gentlemen to come 
to him and state their views, as far as possible, general 
command by general command, beginning with the 
right wing. 

What replies Colonel Heye received is unknown to 
me ; but, as already indicated, I do not doubt, from 
what had passed, that the vast majority of them were 
in the negative. As I learned afterwards, all the front 
officers who took part in the conference were pledged 
to secrecy by Colonel Heye and gave their hand on it. 
No such request was put to Captain X or myself. 


My judgment upon the conference and the interroga- 
tion of the front commanders may be formulated 
as follows : 

Considering the importance of the verdict to be 
given by each individual officer ordered to Spa, it was 
bad management to interrogate these men, who in many 
cases were physically and psychically reduced, without 
giving them an opportunity of recuperation or giving 
them time mentally to digest the news placed before 
them in reference to the state of affairs at home. It 
was noticeable in the afternoon how changed these 
same officers were in appearance after they had rested 
a bit, had washed and dressed, had lunched and lighted 
a cigar. 

It was an incomprehensible omission to leave un- 
summoned the commanders-in-chief, the commanding 
generals and the chiefs of staffs, to hear as it were 
the officers from the front behind their backs. Did 
the General Higher Command fear their judgment ? 
For that there was no occasion. From the Higher 
Command of the Crown Prince Army Group, at any 
rate, they had all along, and especially during the last 
few weeks and months, heard nothing but the most 
candid pronouncements as to the fighting capacity 
of the troops. Unfortunately, their statements had 
not always met with the proper consideration. 

The picture of the situation from which the com- 
manders were to form their judgment was so sombre 
that an answer in favour of His Majesty was scarcely 
to be expected. On such a hypothesis, the army 
was not to be won over for the Kaiser. Moreover, a 
large proportion of the front officers doubtless lacked 
the analytic capacity and tactical judgment requisite 
for getting to the very heart of this momentous 

If, as it would now appear, the significance of the 


interrogation was whether the Kaiser could remain 
with his army or not, it was a culpable omission not to 
have pointed out more explicitly the consequences 
which might ensue from their replies and that no 
detailed representation was given of what the position 
would be if His Majesty failed to remain Chief War 
Lord. So far as I am aware, the question whether His 
Majesty would be safe with the troops was never put. 
Not until 4.30 p.m. did Count Schulenburg return 
to the hotel. Captain X, Lieutenant Y and I had 
spent most of the time waiting in the hotel, without 
being able to ascertain anything of any significance 
from anyone. Count Schulenburg was greatly agitated. 
Briefly and with intense indignation he described 
what had happened. As the most essential points 
of what he told us, I recall especially the following : 
" We have no longer any Kaiser. A consultation has 
just been held at the Field-Marshal's villa as to whether 
His Majesty shall be sent off to-night to Holland. 
Groner says he can no longer guarantee his safety for 
another night. Bolshevists are, he asserts, marching 
on Spa from Venders. The verdict of the front 
officers brought by Heye has turned out to be in the 
negative. My objections that the army is loyal and 
abides by its oath were shelved by Groner with the 
words : ' Loyalty to king and military oaths are, 
after all, mere ideas ! ' I could not carry my demand 
that the commanders-in-chief and the commanding 
generals should have a hearing. On my departure, 
His Majesty promised me he would remain King of 
Prussia and stay with the army." Concerning every- 
thing else that occurred in His Majesty's villa and the 
Field-Marshal's and what Count Schulenburg told us 
further, exact information is to be found in the record 
of the events at Spa on November 9, as since published 
in the Press. I would emphasize the fact that the 



particulars contained therein coincide perfectly with 
what Count Schulenburg told us at the Hotel Britan- 
nique and during the return journey to Vielsalm, i.e. 
while still under the first impressions of what he had 
just experienced. 


pro tern., in the General Staff of 

the Higher Command of the Crown Prince Army Group. 

On the top of all the exciting events of that day the 
night brought me a letter from my father which was 
irreconcilable with the last impressions I and the Chief 
of my General Staff had carried away with us from 
Spa, and destroyed all the hope and confidence we had 
cherished concerning a restoration of the old order of 
things. The letter confronted me with unalterable 
facts that could not but change the course of my 
destiny and turn me aside from the path which I had 
hitherto regarded as the only proper one and which, 
relying upon my rights and obligations, I had intended 
unswervingly to follow. 

My father's letter ran : 


" As the Field-Marshal cannot guarantee my 
safety here and will not pledge himself for the relia- 
bility of the troops, I have decided, after a severe 
inward struggle, to leave the disorganized army. 
Berlin is totally lost ; it is in the hands of the Socialists, 
and two governments have been formed there one 
with Ebert as Chancellor and one by the Independents. 
Till the troops start their march home, I recommend 
your continuing at your post and keeping the troops 
together ! God willing, I trust we shall meet again. 
General von Marschall will give you further information. 
' Your sorely-stricken father, 

(Signed) " WILHELM." 


I had no particulars concerning the circumstances 
which had been urgent enough to force the Kaiser, in 
a few hours, to give up everything and to desist from 
his determination to maintain his throne. For the 
present, we could only assume that the Kaiser had been 
rendered pliable by the influence of those men whose 
views Count Schulenburg and I had combated with 
all our might and who had thus been rendered power- 
less so long as we were in Spa. 

Details of what took place on that fatal afternoon 
only came to my knowledge very much later. I 
gathered them from conversations with His Majesty 
and the gentlemen of his suite and from the written 
records of various persons who were present. 

From these it appeared that, after the departure of 
Count Schulenburg, a report was made to His Majesty, 
the Field-Marshal, Generals Groner and von Marschall, 
His Excellency von Hintze and Herr von Griinau. 
Later on Admiral Scheer also joined the party. The 
Kaiser was most urgently pressed to issue his abdica- 
tion and to start for Holland. Emphasis was laid 
on the fact that fifty officers from all parts of the army 
had expressed the opinion that the troops at the front 
were no longer to be trusted. It was declared that, 
in these circumstances, the Kaiser must leave the 
collapsing army and go to Holland. Groner declared 
that the General Staff was of the same conviction. 
For His Majesty, the attitude adopted by the Field- 
Marshal General was decisive. No final decision seems 
to have been formed. His Majesty only agreed to 
preparatory steps being taken for his journey to 

After the conference had been closed, the Kaiser said 
to Count Dohna, who reported himself back from 
leave : "I have answered Groner categorically that I 
have now done with him; despite all suggestions, I 


remain in Spa." To his two aides-de-camp he 
remarked : "I am staying the night in the villa ; 
provide yourselves with arms and ammunition. The 
Field-Marshal tells me that we may have to reckon 
with Bolshevist attacks." 

It was not until after a further discussion with 
Colonel-General von Plessen and Herr von Griinau, 
that the Kaiser decided not to pass the night in Villa 
Fraineuse but in the train at Spa, for which he gave 
the necessary orders. Further representations made 
at the instance of the Field-Marshal General after 
supper and based upon the great danger of Bolshevist 
attacks from Aix-la-Chapelle and Venders were 
needed to induce the Kaiser to set off upon his journey. 
Major Niemann, the General Staff officer of the Higher 
Command attached to the Kaiser, has furnished a 
description of what occurred. According to this 
account, the resolve of His Majesty developed in the 
course of the afternoon and evening of November 9 as 
follows : 

" Between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon, Field- 
Marshal von Hindenburg and State Secretary von 
Hintze reported to His Majesty that the situation was 
continually growing worse, and requested him to 
consider crossing the frontier into neutral territory as 
the last resort. The Field-Marshal made use of the 
words : ' I cannot assume the responsibility for the 
Kaiser's being dragged to Berlin by mutinous troops 
and there handed over as a prisoner to the Revolution- 
ary Government.' His Majesty declared his assent 
to preparatory steps being taken by His Excellency 
von Hintze for the possible reception of His Majesty 
in Holland. After this conversation, His Majesty 
again gave personal instructions for measures of 
security to be adopted during his stay in Spa. 

" Towards 7 p.m., His Excellency von Hintze and 


Colonel-General von Plessen again came to request His 
Majesty, in their own names and in the name of the 
Field-Marshal, to leave for Holland that night. The 
situation at home and in the army, said the State 
Secretary, made a speedy decision by His Majesty 
essential. The possibility of His Majesty's being 
seized by his own troops, as already stated by the 
Field-Marshal, was getting nearer and nearer. At 
first, His Majesty yielded to this pressure. Subse- 
quently, however, on calm reflection, His Majesty 
came to the decision not to leave, but to remain with 
the army and to fight to the last. On the way to the 
royal train, in which the greater part of the suite lived 
and in which all meals were taken, His Majesty, about 
7.45 p.m., communicated this decision to his aides-de- 
camp, von Hirschfeld and von Ilsemann. On reaching 
the royal train, he went to General von Gontard and 
told him explicitly that he would not follow the advice 
given him by the Higher Command to leave the army 
and the country ; on the contrary, he would stay with 
his army to the end and risk his life. The demand that 
he should leave the army was, he said, preposterous. 

" His Majesty expressed himself in the same sense 
to Colonel-General von Plessen and to General Baron 

" By supper-time (8.30 p.m.) the idea of departure 
appeared to be finally given up. 

" After supper, i.e., about 10 o'clock, Heir von 
Griinau appeared under instructions from His 
Excellency von Hintze, and reported to His Majesty 
that both Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, and State 
Secretary von Hintze had come to the conclusion that 
His Majesty must start for Holland without delay. 
The situation had become untenable, as the insur- 
rectionary movement threatened to travel from 
Aix-la-Chapelle and Eupen to Spa, and insurgent 


troops were already marching on the town ; while the 
route to the front was blocked by mutinous troops on 
the lines of communication. 

" His Majesty, yielding to these renewed urgent de- 
mands of the leading responsible military leaders and 
competent political advisers, gave orders for the journey 
to the Dutch frontier to start at 5 a.m. on November 

All these facts seem to me to prove that His Majesty 
did not resolve, of his own accord, to go to Holland. 
On the contrary, he protested against the idea to the 
very last. But all his advisers, with the Higher Com- 
mand at their head, employed the most forcible means 
to wrest this decision from him. The leading persons 
of his suite seem also to have gone over to the other 
side in the course of the afternoon and to have exerted 
themselves to obtain the early departure of His Majesty. 

Only in this way can it be explained that, in Vielsalm, 
a bare hour by motor-car from Spa, we did not get 
news of this decision in time for us to intervene and to 
induce the Kaiser to join our Army Group. True, the 
situation at the front was very critical, and our pres- 
ence in the Vielsalm Head-quarters extremely neces- 
sary. Nevertheless, it was a mistake for Schulenburg 
and me not to have remained in Spa or to have taken 
the Kaiser along with us when we left. We relied 
upon the promise of the Kaiser and upon those around 
him, who knew our views and attitude, to give us a 
call immediately any change occurred in the Kaiser's 

Looking back upon the abdication of the Kaiser, it 
seems to me that there was only one suitable moment 
for such an act. That moment was at the end of 
September, when Kaiser and people were startled by 
the military collapse and by the demand of the Higher 
Command for an immediate armistice proposal. The 


revelation of the bald truth was so crushing that the 
people would have understood the Kaiser's taking upon 
himself the responsibility and sacrificing himself. 
Such an abdication would have been voluntary and 
would not have weakened the monarchy. In October, 
one privilege after another was wrested from the crown. 
Even the Higher Command, in the middle of October, 
agreed to the supreme command in war time being torn 
from the Kaiser from the Chief War Lord. Ulti- 
mately came the demand for abdication, and it grew 
louder and louder as the hostile propagandists acted 
more and more in concert. If it had been accorded 
in response to this pressure, the Crown would have been 
surrendered to the absolute control of parliament and 
of the mob the end would have been just the same. 

Or does anyone still believe that the dynasties would 
not have been overturned, if the Kaiser had abdicated 
in the days of November or in the forenoon of November 
9. The revolution was not directed against the person 
of the Kaiser but against monarchy. 

For months, the ground had been undermined, and 
the favourable moment was being awaited. This 
moment had arrived when the people's confidence in 
Hindenburg and Ludendorff received such a severe 
blow by the recognition that the war was lost. The 
people were worn out ; the masses were worn out and 
ready for the revolution ; the middle classes were worn 
out and apathetically let things slide. The will to 
fight and to resist was paralysed ; and people yielded 
to the delusion that they would obtain a better peace 
by removing the Kaiser. 

The revolution had an astoundingly easy game to 
play. A few hours sufficed to sweep away the 
hereditary princes and their governments. Without 
fighting and without bloodshed, the revolution was 
accomplished a proof of how thoroughly it was pre- 


pared, partly by the moving and swaying forces of our 
unfortunate destiny and partly by the systematic work 
and influence of the revolutionaries. 

The Kaiser recognized that the abdication demanded 
from him would be the commencement of chaos. He 
recognized that, in the difficult times ahead of us, one 
thing above all was essential : and the one thing 
needful was the maintenance of authority and of the 
fighting powers of the army so that it might resist any 
attempt to dictate peace. Was he not right ? The 
German people had received the most extensive demo- 
cratic rights. The old authority could not be dispensed 
with in the hour of greatest peril. The Higher Com- 
mand were forced to sign the ignominious armistice, 
not because we were defenceless, but because the 
field army could not continue the campaign with the 
revolution in its rear. 

The entire blame for their misfortune our people 
have heaped upon their old Kaiser. As his son, but 
also as one who never was his blind admirer, I must 
demand justice in any verdict pronounced upon my 
father. For three years he has been overwhelmed 
with abuse by the parties of the present Government, 
who still impute every failure to the old regime and 
specially to the Kaiser, by the heroes of the extreme 
left as well as those of the right. Like everybody else, 
my father was, after all, only human, and he too was 
worn out. Did not stronger men also experience their 
hours of weakness in the war ? 

To what trials was not this sensitive and most pacific 
of princes exposed in the war ? The last year of the 
war brought disappointment after disappointment. 
In its last wretched months, adverse intelligence was 
followed by evil tidings and evil tidings by bad news ; 
and in the closing days and hours everything collapsed. 
He had resolved to tread the path of duty, and in that 


path to fall fighting. He relied upon the Higher 
Command, who till the 6th of November took his part 
with the whole weight of their authority. In the 
decisive hour, when the nation, the home army and the 
navy deserted him, that man also failed him who for 
him and for the nation was the greatest authority, 
and to whom he, the Emperor, had made himself a 

Is it any wonder that my father trusted this man, 
this responsible adviser, more than he did me or my 
Chief of Staff ? Is it any wonder that, in the enormous 
excitement and tension which had seized him, he, after 
prolonged opposition, eventually yielded because his 
great Field-Marshal strove for it with all the means at 
his disposal ? Is it not natural that he should have 
shunned a bloody struggle against two fronts, a struggle 
withal which, in the judgment of the Field-Marshal 
General, the German army was no longer morally 
capable of conducting. What enormous difficulties 
lay in the fact that the enemy alliance was prepared 
to negotiate only with a so-called popular government ! 
Without a doubt, our enemies, in the event of a con- 
flict, would have made the surrender of the Kaiser a 
preliminary condition for the continuance of the 
armistice and peace negotiations. Was my father to 
place army and country in such a terrible dilemma ? 
And so he acquiesced in his fate, rather than involve 
his people and army, who were enduring many ills, in 
civil war on his account. It was but logical that he 
should go abroad after he had given up the struggle 
with the revolution. 

I ask, on the Kaiser's account, that people should 
exercise humanity in deliberation and righteousness in 
judgment; and yet I fear I shall not convince his 
adversaries those adversaries who cast stones at him 
because he went to Holland and who would have stoned 


him just the same if, after abdicating, he had marched 
back home. But I hope to meet with understanding 
for my father among those nationally disposed Germans 
who have the honest courage to look back and to beat 
their own breasts : "He that is without sin . . . ! " 



May, 1921. 

IN the early morning of November 10, I deliberated 
with my Chief of Staff, Count Schulenburg, about 
the situation created by the departure of the Kaiser 
and the possibilities left open tome. My own inclina- 
tion was still towards resistance. 

Combat the revolution then ? But only Hinden- 
burg, the man into whose hands the Kaiser committed 
the supreme command over the troops at the front and 
the troops at home, and to whom I, myself, am sub- 
ordinate as soldier and as leader of my Army Group, 
only this one man has the right to summon us to such 
a combat. 

And while we are still talking of him and of the 
decisions which he may perhaps be making, there comes 
the report from Spa that he has placed himself at the 
disposal of the new Government ! 

Therewith, every thought of fighting is blasted in its 
roots any enterprise against the new rulers is doomed 
to futility. With Hindenburg and the watchword of 
order and peace, much might have been saved ; in 
opposing him there was only more to be lost, namely, 
German blood, and the prospect of an armistice and of 

Hence, every temptation to regain my hereditary 
power by force of arms must be repudiated ; and all 



that can persist is my desire in any case to do my duty 
as a soldier who has sworn fealty to his Kaiser and owes 
obedience to the representative appointed by that 
Kaiser. Accordingly, I will retain the command in 
my hands and will safely lead back home, in order and 
discipline, the troops entrusted to me. Count von der 
Schulenburg endorses this resolve with his advice ; 
and like views are expressed by my army leaders von 
Einem, von Hutier, von Eberhardt and von Boehn, 
some of whom present themselves among the Staff of 
the Army Group in the course of the morning while the 
others are communicated with by telephone. Not one 
of them but is deeply affected by these unhappy 
decrees ; not one of them who does not regard the 
events of Berlin and Spa with bewilderment. The 
same question again and again : " And Hindenburg ? ' 
And again and again the one answer : " General 
Groner ' 

After a long discussion of the pros and cons, I left 
Vielsalm in the afternoon. Schulenburg advises me 
urgently to proceed nearer to the troops at the front 
during the negotiations with Berlin, and to await the 
decisions of the Government in a spot more remote 
from the demoralization that was likely to find more 
ready expression behind the lines. On the other hand, 
it is necessary to select a place accessible by telephone. 
Therefore, in the end, it is agreed that I shall, for the 
present, proceed to the head-quarters of the Third 

That drive I shall never forget. My orderly officer, 
Zobeltitz, and the courier officer of the Army Group, 
Captain Anker, accompany me ; while my two adju- 
tants, Miildner and Miiller, remain behind to conduct 
the further negotiations with the Government. 

In one place we passed through, my car was sur- 
rounded by hundreds of young soldiers, who greeted 


me with shouts and questions. It is a depot of recruits 
of the Guards ; none of the lads will believe in the 
reports of the revolution, and they beg me to march 
home with them. They are prepared to batter every- 
thing to pieces ! When they hear that Hindenburg 
also has placed himself at the disposal of the new 
Government, they become quite silent. That seemed 
beyond their comprehension. I press many hands ; 
I hear behind me the shouts of the young voices : 
" Auf Wiedersehen ! ' Dear, trusty German lads 
now doubtless German men ! 

We toil along incredible country roads and forest 
tracks ; and, about nine o'clock, we reach our goal. 
But no Staff is to be seen anywhere ! Accidentally, a 
veterinary surgeon turns up in the dark and informs 
us that no Staff has ever been located here. The name 
of the head-quarters of the Third Army occurring twice, 
it has been incorrectly indicated on my map. But 
he will show us the way to the next place, where von 
Schmettow's Staff was located yesterday. 

Our route traverses a vast and pitch-dark forest. In 
an hour's time we arrive at a house where every one 
has already retired to rest. After much shouting and 
sounding of our motor horn, an officer appears at 
length and explains that this is a school for ensigns ; 
von Schmettow's Group has already left. The young 
man is exceedingly kind, as though he must apologize 
for Schmettow's having gone. He begs me to stay 
the night ; he does not know where the Third Army 
Staff is located, but presumes Einem to have taken 
up his quarters in the neighbourhood of the little town 
of Laroche. 

We proceed therefore on our night journey. Eventu- 
ally we find Laroche. It is a railway junction. It is 
a terrible chaos through which we drive : bawling, 
undisciplined men going on leave, shouts and screams ; 


and storming of the trains. At the commandant's, 
we learn that the Third Army Staff is lodged in a house 
quite close by. 

We start off again ! On a deeply rutted road we 
have to pass under a narrow railway arch. Here an 
Austrian motor howitzer battery has jammed itself 
into some German munition vans in a hopeless entangle- 
ment. It is pitch dark to boot. The small lights 
flicker : the men shout and curse. Our car sinks 
deeper and deeper into the mud ; and a fine, cold 
drizzle pours down. And thus we sit there and wait in 
that chaos for two whole hours. The yelling and 
bawling at the railway station reverberates over our 
heads ; groups of muddy shirkers and soldiers from the 
lines of communication drift mistrustfully past, casting 
greedy sidelong looks at us as they go by. Two such 
hours, after that flood of terrible events and with one's 
heart full of pain and bitterness. It is like a picture 
of the ghastly end of our four and a half years of heroic 
struggle : confusion, insanity, crime. 

I would not wish my worst enemy the burning 
torture of those hours. 

It was past midnight when we eventually reached 
the Army head-quarters, where we were welcomed with 
cordial friendship by His Excellency von Einem and 
his Chief of Staff Lieutenant-Colonel von Klewitz. 
They had been expecting us since late in the afternoon, 
and had begun to fear some misfortune might have 
overtaken us and they would not see us again. 

We soon retire to bed ; but again I find it scarcely 
possible to sleep. 

The eleventh is a cold, sombre day. At the Third 
Army head-quarters, not a trace of the revolution is 
observable. From the chief down to the lowest 
orderly, everything is irreproachable ; and it is a 
pleasure to see the smartness and alacrity of the men. 


Were it not that all the unspeakably bitter experiences 
of the last few days are burnt indelibly into my brain, 
I could, at the sight of this perfect order, imagine 
myself awaking from a horrible dream. Klewitz told 
me, by the way, that a soldiers' council had been formed 
among his telephone staff ; but he had soon put an 
end to it, and the men came to him afterwards to 

In the course of the forenoon, the leader of the First 
Guards, General Eduard von Jena, and his general staff 
officer, Captain von Steuben, reported to me. They are 
both fine well-tried men. We were much affected, 
and when they took leave of me, tears were in their 

In the afternoon I telephone to my adjutants at 
Vielsalm. They report that, in regard to the 
negotiations with the Government, they are again 
communicating with Berlin, but no decisions have 
been come to yet. One thing I request, namely, that 
no sort of conclusive settlement shall be made, that 
the final decision be left to me. 

Hence, wait on ! Wait ? Wait for what miracle ? 
Is not, in all that I already know, all that is barely 
concealed under the form of discussions and negoti- 
ations, the " No " of the gentlemen in Berlin clearly 
audible ? And indeed, if they are to retain the power 
they have usurped, can they act otherwise ? And if I 
wish our poor and oft-tried country to have peace, can 
I repudiate their " No " ? 

One unforgettable impression of that day I must 
set down here. It is evening. Sunk in agonizing 
thought, I am walking alone in the park of the chateau. 
I have taken refuge in this solitude and seclusion in 
order to look in the face the finalities which are about 
to be consummated. 

And I reason thus. When that " No," which is 


surely coming, has robbed you of your place beside 
your comrades, and has reft from you your responsi- 
bilities and duties as an active soldier what then ? 
Are you then to take one of the trains at Liege or 
Herbesthal and travel to Berlin in order not to become 
the nucleus of disturbances by remaining with the 
troops ? Will you live there as an idle gentleman 
passively watching them in the wild frenzy and 
raving delirium of their jaded, goaded and misguided 
brains violate all that tradition had made so sacred 
to you and to them ? Or would you like to be there 
as the person on whom all their quarrels turned ? 

" No ! " But a way opens out at the moment when 
you are forced by their " No " to give up your desire 
to return home with the troops, at the moment when 
you are deposed by the new rulers and discharged from 
the service. That way is the way across the frontier. 

Over there, away from all fermenting conflicts, you 
might wait a few weeks till the worst tempest is over 
and reason and discernment have helped to restore 
order. Then, at the latest on the conclusion of peace, 
you could return to your wife and children and to 
the fresh labours which await you and every other 

I think of my father, whom, in this way, I should see 

And the whole bitterness of this separation and this 
exile comes over me. 

Early dusk veils the autumn trees ; sleet is falling, 
and a penetrating chill arises from the wet, mouldering 
leaves and the soddened earth. 

Suddenly, along the road outside, a company marches 
by. The men are singing our fine old soldiers' song : 
" Nach der Heimat mocht' ich wieder " 

Singing ! Marching ! " Good God," I think to 
myself. I struggle with my feelings as best I can ; 



but they are too strong for me, I cannot resist them. 

Still they sing softer now and more distant 

I kept up until then. But that in the darkness and 

solitude in which no one could see that overcame me. 

Late in the evening arrived the declaration of the 

Government that, having heard the advice of the War 

Minister, General Scheiich, they must refuse to allow 

me to remain any longer in the Higher Command of 

the Army Group. The new Commander-in-Chief had 

no further use for me. And so nothing was left but 

to write my farewell letter. It ran as follows: 

Head- quarters of the Crown Prince Army Group, 

November II, 1918. 


In these days the most grievous of my father's 
life and of mine I must beg to take leave of your 
Excellency in this way. With deep emotion, I have 
been forced to the decision to avail myself of the 
sanction accorded by your Excellency to my relin- 
quishing my post of commander-in-chief , and shall, 
for the present, take up residence abroad. It is only 
after a severe inward struggle that I have been able 
to reconcile myself to this step ; for it tears every 
fibre of my heart not to be able to lead back home my 
Army Group and my brave troops to whom the Father- 
land owes such an infinite debt. 

I consider it important, however, once again to give 
your Excellency, at this hour, a brief sketch of my 
attitude ; and I beg your Excellency to make what- 
ever use of my words may seem at all fitting to you. 

Contrary to many unjust opinions which have 
endeavoured to represent me as having always been a 
war-inciter and reactionary, I have, from the outset, 
advocated the view that this war was, for us, a war of 



defence ; and, in the years 1916, 1917, and 1918, I 
often emphasized, both by word of mouth and in writ- 
ing, the opinion that Germany ought to seek to end 
the war and that she should be glad if she could main- 
tain her status quo against the entire world. So far 
as home politics are concerned, I have been the last 
to oppose a liberal development of our constitution. 
This conception I communicated in writing to the 
Imperial Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, only a few 
days ago. Nevertheless, when the violence of events 
swept my father from the throne, I was not merely 
not heard, but, as Crown Prince and heir-apparent, 
simply ignored. 

I therefore request your Excellency to take notice 
that I enter a formal protest against this violation of 
my person, my rights, and my claims. 

In spite of these facts, I held to my view that, con- 
sidering the severe shocks which the army was bound 
to sustain through the loss of its Kaiser and Chief War 
Lord as well as through the ignominious terms of the 
armistice, I ought to remain at my post in order to spare 
it the fresh disappointment of seeing the Crown Prince 
also discharged from his position as military commander- 
in-chief. In this, too, I was led by the idea that, 
even though my own person might be exposed to the 
most painful consequences and conflicts, the holding 
together of my Army Group would avert further 
disaster from our Fatherland, whom we all serve. 
These consequences to myself I should have endured 
in the conviction that I was doing my country a 
service. But the attitude of the present Government 
had also necessarily to be taken into account in decid- 
ing whether I was to continue in my military command. 
From that Government I have received notice that 
no further military activity on my part is looked for, 
although I should have been prepared to accept any 


employment. I believe, therefore, that I have re- 
mained at my post as long as my honour as an officer 
and a soldier required of me. 

Your Excellency will, at the same time, take notice 
that copies of this letter have been despatched to the 
Minister of the Royal Household, the Prussian State 
Ministry, the Vice-President of the House of Deputies, 
the President of the Upper House, the Chef du Cabinet 
militaire, the Chef du Cabinet civil, and a few of the 
military leaders with whom I am more intimately 

I bid your Excellency farewell with the ardent wish 
that our beloved Fatherland may find the way out of 
these severe storms to internal recovery and to a new 
and better future. In conclusion, I am, yours, 

(Signed) WILHELM, 
Crown Prince of the German Empire 

and of Prussia. 
To His Excellency Field-Marshal General von 

Hindenburg, Chief of the General Staff of 

the Field Army. General Head-quarters. 

Soon after these incidents, I felt the desire to have 
a short account prepared of all that had taken place, 
including more especially the progress of the negotia- 
tions between my Army Group in Vielsalm and the 
Government in Berlin during my stay at Third Army 
head-quarters. As a supplement to the description 
given by me, I insert here the account drawn up and 
signed by my chief -of-staff, Major-General Count von 
der Schulenburg and my two acting adjutants Muller 
and Miildner : 

Account of the Events of the loth and nth of 

November, 1918. 

On November 10, 1918, the Chief of the General 
Staff of the Army Group, under the German Crown 


Prince, Major-General Count Schulenburg, urgently 
advised His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince to 
remain at the head of the Army Group. The Com- 
manders-in-Chief von Einem, von Boehn, von Eber- 
hardt and von Hutier, some of whom appeared person- 
ally at the head-quarters of the Army Group, endorsed 
this view, each expressing his opinions independently 
to the Crown Prince. On November 10, the Crown 
Prince betook himself to the front, viz., to Third Army 
head-quarters, in order not to come prematurely into 
contact with various signs of demoralization. 

In Vielsalm, the head-quarters of the Army Group, 
a conference was held on November n with His Excel- 
lency von Hintze, in which Count Schulenburg and 
the two personal adjutants, Major von Miiller and 
Major von Miildner, took part. Count Schulenburg 
advocated the Crown Prince's remaining at the head 
of his Army Group. He pointed out that the Field- 
Marshal and Groner were also of this opinion. In 
general, the two personal adjutants agreed with this 
view, but they called attention to the fact that, before 
his departure for Holland, the Kaiser had declared 
that under no circumstances must civil war be in- 
flamed in Germany. Willingly or unwillingly, how- 
ever, now that the Kaiser had crossed into Dutch 
territory, the Crown Prince, as things stood, would, 
in all probability, become the cause of such civil 

Even if this factor were excluded, it might be assumed 
with certainty that the new Government would bring 
about, with all convenient speed, the termination of 
so commanding a military post as that held by the 
Crown Prince. At the latest, this would have to take 
place at the Rhine ; and then there would no longer 
be left to the Crown Prince any decision as to his further 
actions. He would presumably be forced to accept 



any conditions imposed upon him, and would not even 
have any choice as to his future domicile. If he chose 
it in Germany he would always remain the nucleus of 
movements that might lead to incalculable conse- 
quences. His Excellency von Hintze declared that 
the question whether the Prince was to remain or to 
depart was one to be decided by the responsible military 
authorities. It was agreed to inquire of the Govern- 
ment, and His Excellency von Hintze offered to trans- 
mit the question. He requested the Imperial Chan- 
cellor to come to the telephone. The Chancellor was 
at a sitting and could not be spoken to. His place was 
taken by Herr von Prittwitz and Herr Baacke. While 
His Excellency von Hintze was talking with these 
gentlemen, Count Schulenburg dictated to Major von 
Miildner the inquiry put to the Government by the 
Crown Prince : ' The Crown Prince has a fervent 
desire to remain at the head of his Army Group and, in 
these serious times, to do his duty like every other 
soldier. He will lead his troops back home in strict 
order and discipline, and he engages to undertake no- 
thing against the Government in these times. What 
is the attitude of the Government in this matter ? " 
His Excellency von Hintze telephoned this inquiry 
to Herr Baacke, who wrote it down and verified it. 
During these negotiations, the Crown Prince called 
for Count Schulenburg and His Excellency von Hintze, 
and demanded that no final arrangements should be 
made and that, in any case, he reserved to himself the 

Late in the evening, Major von Miildner received a 
telephone message to the effect that, after having 
consulted the War Minister, Scheiich, the Government 
must answer the inquiry of the Crown Prince in the 
negative, and that they had no intention of leaving the 
Crown Prince in command. 


Thereupon, and with the consent of Field-Marshal 
von Hindenburg, the Crown Prince laid down the 
command and, after a severe internal struggle, resolved 
in favour of the journey to Holland, saying to himself 
that, after the decisions already formed, his remaining 
would not bring about any change in the situation, 
but would only aggravate and confuse it, so that he 
was convinced he ought to make this sacrifice for the 

The departure took place in the forenoon of Novem- 
ber 12. 

Berlin, April 4, 1919. 

(Signed) VON MULLER, 




The next night is sleepless, restless. It is one long 
horror to a tortured heart which must now tear itself 
away by the roots from its affections, horror against 
the brain which vainly racks itself for a better solution 
of the problems. 

In the end, only one thing stands clear, namely, 
that not through me or on my account must further 
bloodshed come about at home, that I dare not be a 
hindrance to any possible restoration of tranquillity at 
home, or to the finding of a peace which the Fatherland 
can bear. 

We intend to travel in the early morning to travel 
across the frontier into Holland. Two cars with only 
the most absolutely indispensable luggage. We have 
talked about it for days ; and I have thought of scarcely 


anything else at night ; yet now that it faces me in 
all its reality, I can hardly realize it. 

I should like to leave the Third Army head-quarters 
quite quietly and with but few words. What can be 
said, has been said. And every military duty has been 
fulfilled up to the last moment. The command of the 
Army Group hitherto entrusted to me passed to Lieu- 
tenant-General von Einem with the advent of the 
armistice. Departure stern compulsion ordains it. 
Why make the heart still heavier ? 

But, when I enter the hall, the whole head-quarters 
staff is there in full regimentals and with their helmets 
on all of them, even the clerks and orderlies. In 
front of them, leaning upon his sword, stands the fine 
old Colonel-General, von Einem ; next to him is his 
Chief-of-Staff, my good Klewitz that admirable sol- 
dier, never daunted though things were often so black ! 
Only that, in his sturdy features, there is something 
I have never seen there before. 

Einem speaks encouraging, deeply-felt words, 
belief in a new future ! Three cheers for the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Army Group fill the hall and 
re-echo over my head. 

Commander-in-Chief of the Army Group ? Am 
I that still ? Perhaps at this moment the Field- 
Marshal General holds my letter of resignation in his 

I cannot speak, cannot answer. I press the hands of 
the old and well-tried officers ; and I see tears on the 
cheeks of the men. 

We must be off. 

On the way, we have to halt with the Staff of the 
First Army, which has its quarters in the picturesque 
Rochefort Chateau in the Ardennes, not far from 
Namur. There, at General von Eberhardt's the 
general was for a long time a trusty leader in my Army 


Group I have to meet my chief-of-staff. Thus, 
I have another bitter farewell to take from him also, 
from the man who, during the hardest period of the 
war, stood nearest to me as my military assistant and 
adviser, and to whom, for all that he gave me as a 
soldier and a man, I am so deeply indebted. 

We are all deeply moved as I now sign the last army 
order to my troops. 


" His Majesty the Kaiser having laid down the 
supreme command and the armistice being concluded, 
I am compelled by circumstances to retire from the 
leadership of my army group. As ever heretofore, so 
also to-day I can only thank my brave armies and 
each man in them from the bottom of my heart for the 
heroic courage, self-sacrifice and resignation with which, 
in prosperity and in adversity, they have faced every 
danger and endured every privation for the Father- 

" The army group has not been defeated by force of 
arms ! Hunger and bitter distress have conquered 
us ! Proudly and with heads erect, my army group 
can leave the soil of France which the best German 
blood had won. Their shield is unblemished, their 
honour untainted. Let every one see to it that they 
remain so, both now and later in the homeland. 

" Four long years I was permitted to be with my 
armies in victory and in distress ; four long years my 
whole heart was given up to my troops. Deeply 
moved, I part from them to-day, and I bow my head 
before the splendour of their mighty deeds which 
history will some day write in words of flame for later 

" Be true to your leaders as you have been heretofore, 
till the command comes which shall set you free for 


wife and child, for hearth and for home. God be with 
you and with our German Fatherland ! 


" Commander-in-Chief, 
" Crown Prince of the German Empire 
and of Prussia." 

And now the moment of separation has come here 
too. I can scarcely tear myself away. 

But it must be my people urge me. Miildner has 
been holding a cap ready for me for some time a grey 
infantry cap ; he thinks, I suppose, that I shall not 
notice what it is in this torment and distraction ; he 
wishes to disguise me with it, in his affectionate care 
imagining that I shall be safer and less easily recognized 
in that unaccustomed colour. 

"No, I want my Hussar cap for this last journey, 
too ! No one will do me any harm ! " 

And now they pretend to be unable to find it. But I 
wait ; and, at last, the black one with the death's head 
turns up, and I don it once again. 

I look into their faithful eyes ; we can only nod ; 
words stick in the throat. Schulenburg jerks out : 
" If you see my lord and Kaiser over there in Holland 
" ; then he falters, too. 

The motor whirrs ; and we start. 

We drive through the back areas of two disinte- 
grating armies, districts which are disengaging them- 
selves in mad haste from the firmly established order 
of a four years' campaign. 

Our cars are grey ; they carry my three trusty 
companions and myself to the bitter end. In the 
front car are Miiller and Muldner, myself following 
them in the other car with the sick Zobeltitz. 

There are soldiers everywhere, saluting and shouting. 
No, I was right ; no one will interfere with me. 


I return their salutes ; and I can't help thinking, 
again and again : "If you lads only knew how I feel 
just now." 

Our route goes via Andenne to Tongern. Belgian 
soil ; everywhere the Belgian flags are flying in the 
towns and the population makes jubilee. 

Moreover, the look of our own people changes as we 
get further and further from the front. Crowds of 
men who once were soldiers now drift along without 
discipline. Shouts that are no longer friendly greet 
our ears. There is the incessant repetition of the silly 
catchwords of those days ; swaggering and bragging, 
each boaster tries to outdo the other in his display of 
rebelliousness and insubordination, shouting : " Knives 
out ! " " Go for *im ! " " Blood up ! " 

But we are stopped nowhere. 

At one spot we pass a cattle transport driven by 
Landsturm men. One old chap, passing close to the 
car and waving a red flag above his oxen, curses me 
roundly ; the officers, he says, are to blame for it all ; 
they've kept heyday he is half famished ! That is 
really too much for me, and I give the miserable man 
such a dressing down that, trembling and white as a 
sheet, he makes salute after salute. Wretched rabble 
that have never faced the enemy and are now playing 
at revolution ! 

Just before Vroenhoven, we see the last German 
troops ; Landsturm they are, making off towards 

Near Vroenhoven we halt in the Dutch barbed wire. 

My heart thumps loudly as I jump out of the car. I 
am thoroughly conscious that the few paces before me 
are decisive. As though all crowded together in one 
moment, the pitiless and tormenting scenes of the last 
few days pass through my mind once more : Spa ; 
the Kaiser ; the Field-Marshal ; Groner's face ; my 


Schulenburg, adjuring and undauntedly opposing the 
others ; my father's letter ; and the decision from 
Berlin which gives me my discharge and cuts the 
ground from under my feet. 

No, it must be ; it must be ; there is no other way. 

Suddenly there came into my mind the words that 
General von Falkenhayn used to call out to me when, 
as a boy, I had to take some difficult obstacle with 
my horse : " Fling your heart across first ; the rest 
will follow." 

Then I take the few steps in front of me. 

Veiled, blurred and uncertain is my impression of 
what followed next. People surround me, comrades 
(Miiller, deadly earnest ; and Miildner, self-possessed, 
soldierly, practical and clear as ever) and strangers. 

There is a young perfectly correct Dutch officer, 
who at first is so surprised that he cannot grasp the 
situation and does not know what to do with us. 
But he sees that we cannot remain here ; consequently 
we are taken past a presenting guard into a small inn, 
where amiable and silent attendants serve us with 
hot coffee. 

Meantime Maastricht is rung up. The young officer 
returns. He is, himself, oppressed by the duty 
incumbent upon him : he must request the surrender 

of our weapons . Then follows a moment of 

intense bitterness, which is rendered endurable only 
by the tact of the petitioner. 

Baron von Hiinefeld and Baron Grote come over 
from Maastricht. Soon Colonel Schroder of the 
military police arrives with his adjutant. Our further 
destiny lies in his hands. He acts energetically. 
Telephones ring and telegrams are despatched. 
Reports, inquiries, regulations to be observed. Thus 
our destiny begins to shape itself. 

In any case, we are first to proceed to the prefecture 


in Maastricht and to await the Government's decision 
at the residence of the Governor of the Province of 

Again we drive off. Everything is warlike here 
also. The streets of the town are blocked with guards, 
wires and chevaux-de-frise. The news of our arrival, 
too, has spread with incredible celerity ; and the 
people regard us with sinister looks. ' The Boches 
are here ! The Crown Prince ! " 

It is nearly one o'clock when we enter the prefecture. 

On the square below is a raging, yelling crowd, 
consisting mostly of Belgians. 

Baron van Hoevel tot Westerflier receives us with a 
thoroughly humane and magnanimous comprehension 
of our position, and endeavours in every way to 
alleviate our melancholy situation. He, too, declares 
that our arrival has come as a complete surprise to 
the Dutch Government, and that further decisions 
must be awaited. He then leaves us alone in the cold 
splendour of the large hall of the prefecture. 

However tactfully it may be done, however skilfully 
the veil may be drawn over the reality, one feels oneself 
to be, after all, a prisoner, to be no longer a free man, 
master of one's own decisions, to be a person who may be 
compelled to stay or forced to go. To all the other 
torments is now added the feeling that one wears 
invisible shackles. 

We sit doing nothing round the table on highly 
ceremonious chairs ; or we range restless round the 
room, or stare dumbly out of the tall window. 

What is going to happen now ? 

The hands of the timepiece seem scarcely to move ; 
sometimes I think they have stopped altogether. 

And, to make things worse, good Zobeltitz, poor 
fellow, lies doubled up with pain on the plush-covered 


Occasionally one of us talks rather to himself than 
to the rest. It is always the same thing, one of those 
thoughts that go buzzing through our heads and 
which we cannot properly grasp ; and no one makes 
any answer. 

Now and then there is a knock at the door. Every- 
one is filled with expectation. But it is nothing ; 
only the Governor sending to inquire after our wishes, 
or the Commandant of Police informing us that he is 
still waiting for instructions. 

And again we are alone, our thoughts busy with the 
past from which we are physically separated, or 
turned towards the future into which we cannot see. 
Broodingly we ask ourselves : ' What is happening 
behind us while we wait here like caged animals ? 
What in the field, among the men who have been 
our comrades for four and a half years ? What in the 
homeland ? What at home among our wives and 

Zobel has got up with difficulty and is creeping about 
the room. Now and again his honest dark eyes catch 
mine. In spite of all the tortures of his stomach, 
which ought to have been under the surgeon's knife 
long ago, he looks at me as though he would fain do 
something for me. Then he stops in a corner before 
the white bust of William of Orange, who gazes down 
comfortably and in dignity from his pedestal. 
Zobeltitz nods to him and says philosophically : 
" Aye, aye, my dear Van Houten, you never dreamed 
it would come to this, did you ? ' 

How much bitterness may not be mitigated by such 
a sudden sally of humour in the midst of despair ! 
The martyrdom of waiting is almost rendered easier. 

The Baron has dinner served for us. Notwith- 
standing all our protestations, a real dinner. It is 
all so well meant ; but, in the mood which now holds 


us in its clutches, we can scarcely swallow a mouthful. 

At last, by midnight, things are settled. We are, 
for the present, to find shelter in Hillenraadt Castle, 
belonging to Count Metternich. 

Again we are in open cars, with the police officer 
beside us. The streets through which we pass are 
cordoned off by patrols of marees chaussees, in accord- 
ance with the wise and proper orders of Colonel 

A bitterly cold fog lies over the landscape and makes 
the night still more impenetrable. Only the search 
lights bore white funnels in the dark into which we 
hasten. It is as though, at one moment, they threaten 
to swallow us up and the next have hurried phantom- 
like away. 

Two hours pass thus. 

Then we stop before the Count's castle near Roer- 

We remove our coats in the great hall which is 
faintly lighted by candles. Stiff with cold we are, 
wretched at heart and rootless on foreign soil. 

Suddenly, the lady of the house descends the stairs 
young, blonde, dressed all in black, a chain of pearls 
round her slender neck. All feeling of strangerhood 
vanishes before those warm and sympathetic eyes. 

From that moment onwards throughout the unspeak- 
ably difficult ten days which we spend in Hillenraadt 
Castle, this kind woman looks after us with the most 
delicate tact, and becomes to me a good friend with 
whom I can talk over many a torturing question. 
The Countess is a believing Catholic and suffers severely 
under the misfortune which has come upon our country ; 
moreover, she is deeply anxious about her husband, 
who, during these days of revolution, is in Berlin. 

Thus ten days pass, during which, while bad news 
follows bad news from the field and from home, nego- 


tiations are carried on with the Dutch Government 
concerning our future. In the course of these pro- 
ceedings, it appears that outward circumstances compel 
Holland to couple the question of my internment 
with my arrival and my wish to sojourn temporarily 
on neutral soil. Only under guarantees to the outside 
world is it possible for the neutral State to afford me 
hospitality or to endeavour to oppose the demands 
already being made for my " extradition." Thus I 
have suddenly found myself in a position of constraint. 
In view of the conclusion of the armistice on November 
n, the possibility of such a situation arising never 
occurred to anyone in considering the pros and cons 
of my journey neither to me, nor my Chief of Staff, 
nor the gentlemen about me, nor the State Secretary 
of the Foreign Office, nor His Excellency von Hintze, 
nor the General Higher Command. We all cherished 
the assured conviction that I could claim exactly the 
same rights as all the gentlemen of the Imperial suite, 
none of whom had been interned or were to be interned, 
and whose movements were left to their own discretion. 
Despite the difficulties and torments involved, these 
discussions and negotiations are conducted by the 
representatives of the Dutch Government in a spirit 
of genuine humaneness. In full accord with the 
character of the Dutch people, every one of the men 
with whom we came into contact over the matter proved 
to be just, impartial and ready to stand up for his 
own personal convictions. 

At length, we receive some sort of indication as to 
my future. Colonel Schroder brings me news that 
the Dutch Government have appointed the Isle of 
Wieringen for my residence. 

Wieringen ? The Isle of Wieringen ? 

No one in the house knows where the island may 


Wieringen ? 

I hear the name for the first time in my life ; I can 
form no notion of it, attach no idea to it. 

And now, as I write these reminiscences, I have been 
living for nearly three years on this small spot of 
sea-girt earth. 

Even this last phase of the journey into exile is 
full of little hindrances, vexations and annoyances. 

Early in the morning we bid farewell to our kind 
Countess, for the train leaves Roermond station at 
seven o'clock. A Dutch captain is appointed as our 

Towards one o'clock we are in Amsterdam many 
inquisitive people throng the station, and there is a 
cordon of soldiers and by three o'clock we reach 
Enkhuizen, an out-of-the-way place on the shores of 
the Zuyder Zee. As we had learned on the way, 
a steam-yacht of the Waterstaats Department is to 
meet us here and take us across to the Isle of Wier- 

But, in the fog, the yacht has run herself fast on to 
a sandbank off Enkhuizen and begs to be excused. 
During my consequent enforced stay at Enkhuizen, 
the population gives utterance to its feelings in cries, 
yells, hoots and curses. By an unmistakable gesture 
towards the neck followed by an upward movement 
of the hand, the crowd, with a remarkable expendi- 
ture of mimicry, makes it clear to me how thoroughly 
the caricature of my person produced and disseminated 
by Entente propaganda has fixed itself in their minds. 
In any case, all this does not exactly tend to enliven 
one's feelings. 

After a long palaver, it is eventually decided to 
go on board a little steam-tug and to search for our 
yacht . 

So off we go. The fog on the Zuyder Zee is so thick 


that we can scarcely see twenty yards ahead, and an 
icy wind is blowing from the open sea. We stand 
on the deck of the little pitching and rolling steamer 
and stare into the fog for hours together. It is a 
cheerless business. 

At last we find the yacht. But there is not much 
comfort to be gained from her. Her screw is broken. 
First, we have to tug her off. Then she is lashed along- 
side the tug ; and we are then, it would seem, in a 
position to steer for Wieringen. 

Aye, if we only knew where Wieringen lay. In the 
fog and the deepening darkness and the heavy storm 
and the turbulent sea, our magnificent navigators 
spend hours in searching for the island. But the 
island cannot be found ; it has vanished, as though 
devoured by the sea and the fog. In the end, some- 
where about ten o'clock at night, they give up the 
search and decide to drop anchor till the morning. 
But this again proves to be fool's wisdom, for the sea 
is so rough that the two ships are bumped against one 
another all the time. A number of rivets have already 
been loosened, and, if things go on like this, there is 
every prospect of our being drowned man and mouse. 
And so up comes the anchor again ! 

Next we try to reach the harbour of Medemblik on 
the mainland, and bold seafarers being often blessed 
with good luck rather than with brains we at last 
manage to get there towards midnight. 

Wieringen ? Just a foretaste which prevented our 
expectations from running too high ; that was all that 
this day brought us. 

But next day the effort succeeded. The sea having 
quieted down, we go aboard in the morning and 
make the island about noon in calm, clear winter 

Uneffaceable is the impression of that moment in 


which I first set foot upon the firm ground of this little 
corner of earth. 

The harbour is again crowded with people. There 
are the quiet and distrustful natives of the place 
staring at this curious billeting ; and there are reporters 
from all parts of the world and deft-handed photo- 

It makes you feel like some rare animal that has 
at last been successfully caught. I should like to say 
to each of these busybodies : " Ask nothing, and 
get out of the way with your quizzing camera. I want 
quiet ; I want to collect my thoughts and to arrange 
my ideas after all this disaster and nothing more ! " 

In a primeval vehicle assuredly the best the island 
boasts we proceed to the village of Oosterland. The 
venerable jolting-car smells of oil and mustiness and old 
leather. Even still, if I close my eyes and recall that 
hour, I can smell that ineradicable odour. 

We are set down at the little parsonage, which is 
very much out of repair. Everything is bare and 

A few rickety old pieces of furniture absolute 
cripples ! dullness and solitude ensconced like phan- 
toms between them. 

The decrepit chariot outside turns groaning and 
moaning on its axles and jogs off homewards through 
the fog. 

Home ! The thought of it almost chokes me. 

Days and weeks ensue that are so cheerless and 
leaden as to be almost unbearable. 

Like a prisoner, like an outlaw, I move among this 
small group of people, who turn away then: lowering, 
shy visages as they pass or, at most, look askance at 
me with inquisitive half-closed eyes. I am the blood- 
thirsty baby-killer ; people are embittered against 
the Government for having imposed such a burden 


upon this honest island and for letting me roam about 
it untrammelled. 

The burgomaster, Peereboom, has his work cut out 
for him ; it is a difficult task to calm these agitated 

And absolutely heartrending news dribbles in from 
home concerning the course of events ! We have no 
German newspapers. Only from Dutch journals 
which are out-of-date by the time they reach us can 
we spell out the tenor of the London, Paris and Am- 
sterdam telegrams ; and their tenor is " blood and 
tumult," the palace shelled and pillaged, domination 
by the sailors, Spartacist battles, a threat of invasion 
by the Entente. 

One would like to cry out for a little hope, for a 
little light to be granted to the land to which every fibre 
of one's heart is attached and for whose peace and 
security one would willingly make every sacrifice ! 

Sacrifice ? Yes, they ask one from me, of which I 
will speak here. 

On December i, von Pannwitz, Secretary to the 
German Legation at The Hague, arrives with a fresh 
demand sent by the new German Government. The 
secretary is an old member of my corps in my student 
days at Bonn. God knows, the task can scarcely 
have been an easy one for him, and he doubtless under- 
took it only because what he had to tell me was less 
painful to listen to from the lips of a friend than from 
those of a stranger. 

He is to obtain from me a formal renunciation of my 
personal claims. 

A renunciation ! Why ? What for ? The gentle- 
men in Berlin who hold the power in their hands and 
who, according to their own assertions, represent the 
will of the majority of the German people, have not 
hitherto been so pedantic and punctilious in their 



dealings with the rights of the Hohenzollerns. Did 
they not, on November 9, announce the abdication of 
His Majesty and my own renunciation, without waiting 
for the Kaiser's decision or even advising me ? And 
did not the same lips which, a few weeks before, had 
sworn fealty to His Majesty, proclaim the German 
republic without a scruple ? What can my renuncia- 
tion signify to those gentlemen ? It has not been 
their custom heretofore to trouble about such small 
matters ! 

But other considerations press for attention. What 
is the true foundation of the rights exercised by a ruler 
who regards himself as the chief servant of the State, 
or by the prospective heir to a throne who, according 
to traditional law, is some day to take over that 
service ? Is it merely his ancestry and his inherited 
and guaranteed claims ? Or is it not rather only 
by gaining the confidence of the nation, which entrusts 
itself voluntarily to the leadership of one who is carry- 
ing on the tradition, that he earns afresh the real 
substance of those actual rights ? Is not the one 
without the other void and empty ? And can I, 
without further consideration, believe that I have 
the confidence and attachment of the majority of 
Germans, after our collapse, in this hour of deepest 
distress and humiliation, when so many hundreds of 
thousands see before them a portrait of me which 
is nothing but a disfigurement, a vilification, a distor- 
tion of my true self ? No, that is impossible ! 

Shall I present to my German fatherland the 
spectacle of one who persists in demanding his rights 
when they deny him the best element in those rights 
their love and confidence ? Shall I, by a rigid insistence 
" upon my bond," provide a war-cry for all those who 
stand for monarchy in the State, and that at a time 
when, according to my deepest convictions, the 




fatherland whether as republic or as monarchy 
demands from all of us internal solidarity against the 
rapacious desires of the " victors " around us and 
work, work, work ? Once more, No ! 

And if, under the stress of circumstances and for 
the benefit of the whole, the individual renounces a 
prescriptive right, does he thereby relinquish any 
particle of that sublimer free right of obeying a possible 
summons issued to him by the will of the majority ? 
My renunciation, proceeding from my love of the 
fatherland, cannot be regarded as blameworthy ; it 
is evidence of one thing only, that in the fateful hours, 
with the enemy at our gates and divided counsels 
at home, when the great need of the moment was to 
save the country from further dissensions, I obeyed 
the demands which were calculated to serve her 

And so, I yielded to the somewhat belated wishes 
of the new Government ; but I repeat that it was 
not for their sakes and not because I recognized any 
of the traditional rights of my position as in any way 
affected by the violent doings of the revolution ; no, 
it was because, so far as in me lies, I desire, as much as 
any one of my compatriots, honestly to help in pre- 
venting conflagration and in healing and strengthening 
by devotion and self-abnegation our so severely-tried 
fatherland, till the hour shall come in which I, too, may 
take active part with my fellows in productive labour 
in my home country. 

September, 1921. 

I have perused again the pages describing my jour- 
ney to Holland and the almost unbearable first weeks 
of my sojourn on the island here. Vividly present is 
the recollection of that painful past. And yet it is 
so distant almost three years ! Those who then 


regarded me with deep-rooted distrust, with reserve 
and even with repulsion, have long since become 
friends who admit me to their joys and sorrows, small 
as well as great friends whose simple and straight- 
forward fairness lightens my solitude by many a token 
of genuine good-will. 

It is true, too, that the tranquillity and seclusion 
of the island have doubtless tended to deepen and 
enrich my powers of discernment ; and yet, all this 
and all that the Dutch people have given me in their 
hospitality could not make me forget my German 
homeland. My old love for her and my longing for 
the people who are my kindred are as strong in me 
as ever. 

The hour of fulfilment has, alas, not yet struck, and 
I cannot yet actively co-operate in the work of restora- 
tion ; all I can do is to await that hour in self-control 
and patience, enduring meanwhile the hardships of 
exile and solitude without complaint. 

I have sketched in these pages the most important 
matters of my life up till now, and I have not wittingly 
suppressed any essentials. 

I have finished. 

But I would not say good-bye to those Germans 
who have followed my course in this narrative without 
expressing to them the wishes that fill my heart for 
them, for us all, for our sacred fatherland which gave 
us birth and which, whether it flourish or whether it 
fade, is the source from which our life's blood issues. 

What in our great depression and misery we need 
most of all, in order to regain our old position, is 
internal solidarity founded upon self-sacrificing love 
of the fatherland, coupled with national consciousness 
and national dignity. 

Away with the acrimonious cries that tend to 


perpetuate internal strife and prevent the return of 
peace ! It cannot be our aim continually to reproach 
one another with having broken the dish. In some 
way we were all of us sinners ; and what we need is 
a new vessel instead of the shards of the old one. 

Let every one who may be called to share in deter- 
mining the destiny of the German people to-day feel 
the full weight of the responsibilities entrusted to 
him ! May that much-abused and often misconstrued 
saying " Room for the competent ! " at length be 
turned to deeds ! Let us have only the best men at 
the helm ! Let the most tested experts, the most 
capable, the stoutest come to the front ! It is not a 
question of whether they come from the right or from 
the left, whether they have or have not a past, whether 
they are republicans or monarchists, employers or 
workmen, Christians or Jews ; all that should be asked 
is whether they are honest men inspired with German 
feelings and prepared to work for the reconstruction 
of their country with all their might and all their 
combined vigour united at home and strong towards 
the world without. 

Fettered by the chains which the impossible and 
criminal Treaty of Versailles has forced upon our 
powerlessness, Germany has lain prostrate and helpless 
for three years. She is helpless because she squanders 
her strength in internal feuds, because a large pro- 
portion of her people continue to listen to the " Pied 
Piper " melodies of those rogues or madmen who sing 
them the alluring lay of universal brotherhood in the 
paradise of internationalism. How long is it to last, 
how long ? Open your eyes and look around you ; 
and you will see that this world by which you are 
encompassed is one homogeneous proof that nowhere 
is a hand held out to help you, and that only he who 
helps himself finds recognition. Above all, be Germans, 


and take your stand firmly on the ground of practical 
politics in this world that is so eminently practical, 
reserving your romanticism for better days in which 
it will be less fatal to the whole fabric. 

Believe me, a German people which buries its party 
quarrels, which emancipates itself from the miserable 
materialism of these recent years and which, united 
in its love for our impoverished and yet so gloriously 
beautiful fatherland, struggles for freedom with an 
indomitable will such a German people can shake 
off its shackles and burst its manacles. 

But you must display sternness, and you must 
wrestle with that fervour which knows only the one 
ardent longing and cries : "I will not let thee go, 
except thou bless me." 

I do not summon to revenge or to arms or to 
violence. I call upon the spirit of Germany ; let that 
be strengthened ; for the spirit makes the deed and the 
destiny and senseless is the tool without it. Possibly 
this saying is the key to that destiny through which 
we have been passing for a generation, and also to 
that which lies ahead and into which we may enter 
as victors over all our opponents if we do but bind 
together all the best of our energies into a potent 


Abdul Hamid 47-50 
Alexandra, Empress, 62 
Alexis, Tsarevitch, 65 
Alsace-Lorraine, 96, 112-14, J &4 
American anti-German war pro- 
paganda, 127 
American Army, 206 
Anker, Capt., 268 
Anschiitz, 47 
Armistice, 215 
Austrian ultimatum, 119 

Baacke, Herr, 277 

Ballin, Herr, 135 

Bassenheim, Count, 31 

Beck, Major, 93 

Behr, 52 

Benedik, 165 

Bentinck, Count, 128 

Berg, von, 18, 127, 207, 218 

Berge, Col. von, 239 

Bethmann Hollweg, 71, 84, 95- 

101, 112, 120-4, I 35~6, 138-41, 

150. 185 
Betzold, 47 

Bismarck, Prince, 1 6, 33-5, 75, 106 
Bock, Major von, 226, 251 
Boehn, General von, 215, 268, 276 
Boer War, 76 
Boris, Crown Prince, 184 
Brandis, Capt. von, 175 
Brunswick, Duchess of, 182, 232 
Buchholz, Gustav, 120 
Bulgaria, 204 
Billow, General von, 165 
Billow, Prince, 28, 75, 76, 78-80, 

85-6, 95 

Carol, King, 100 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 76 
Clemen, 47 

Clemenceau, 151 
Court festivities, 53-6 
Czernin, Count, 184-5 

David, Hermann, 186-7 
Deimling, General von, 113 
Deutschland in Waff en, 112 
Dohna, Count, in, 259 
Dommes, Col. von, 170 
Douaumont, Fort, 175 

Eberhardt, von, 268, 276, 279 
Ebert, 246, 258 
Edward, King, 67-8, 74, 80-4 
Einem, von, 268-70, 276, 279 
Eitel Friedrich, 16, 35, 153 
Eitel Fritz, 47, 171 
Enver Pasha, 184 
Erzberger, 140 
Eulenburg, Prince, 22 

Falkenhayn, General von, 33, 173, 


Fashoda, 77 
Federal princes, 183 
Finckenstein, Count, 40 
Fisher, Lord, 70, 132-3 
Foch, 218-22 

Forstner, Lieutenant von, 114 
Francis Ferdinand, Archduke, 84, 

106-7, JI 9 

Frederick Charles, Prince, 115 
Fredericks, Baron, 63 
Fritz, Prince, 16, 205 
Frobenius, D. H., 120 

Gallwitz, 217 

George, David Lloyd, 98, 151 
German censorship, 187-90 
German Revolution, 208-13, 234- 




Giesl, 107 

Gontard, General von, 233, 261 

Goschen, Sir Edward, 101, 123 

Gothein, 47 

Grey, Earl, 101, 105-6 

Groner, General, 87, 224, 233-44, 

248-50, 257, 259, 268, 276 
Grote, Baron, 283 
Griinau, Herr von, 233, 240, 249- 

50, 260-1 
Guendell, General von, 217 

Haldane, Lord, 101-2 
Hardinge, Lord, 103 
Hedin, Sven, 184 
Heine, Heinrich, 89 
Henry, Prince, 121-2, 173 
Hentsch, Col., 167-9 
Hertling, Count von, 208, 210 
Hewett, Sir John, 103 
Heydebrand, Herr von, 187 
Heye, Col., 242, 250-7 
Hindenburg, Field-Marshal von, 
154-8, 177, 207, 233-43, 249, 

Hintze, von, 212, 233, 239-40, 

243-50, 259-61, 276-7, 287 
Hirschfeld, Major von, 240, 261 
Hopfgarten, Count, 61 
Huenefeld, Baron, 31 
Hiilsen, von, 60 
Hiinefeld, Baron von, 283 
Hutier, von, 268, 276 

Ilsemann, 93, 261 
India, 103 

Jagow, 99, 101 
Jellicoe, Lord, 72 
Jena, General von, 271 
Jena, Herr, 173 
Joachim, Prince, 153 
Joffre, General, 176 
Jonghe, Count de, 225 
Jutland, Battle of, 69 

Kan, Mr., 127 
Kapp Putsch, 129, 131-2 
Karl, Kaiser, 184 
Keppel, Sir Roos, 103 
Kiderlen-Wachter, 98-100 
Klewitz, Col. von, 270-1, 279 
Knobelsdorf, General von, 116, 176 
Koenigsmarck, Graf, 21 

Kolff, Mr., 163-4 

Konig, Capt., 127 

Kruger telegram, 76 

Kuhl, General von, 167, 215 

Kummer, 57 

Kurt, Major, 128 

Labour Party, 194 

Leo XIII. 47 

Lichnowsky, Prince, 102 

Litzmann, 47 

Lloyd George. See George 

Louis of Battenberg, Prince, 45 

Ludendorff, General, 133-4, I 5 I 

154-62, 185-6, 207, 2ii, 223, 


Luijt, 57 
Lyncker, General von, 35, 109-10 

Malimoff, 204 

Maltzahn, 153 

Mangin, General, 176 

Maria, Dowager Empress, 62, 64 

Marne, Battle, 169-72 

Marschall, General von, 233, 240, 

244, 248-9, 253, 258-9, 261 
Max of Baden, Prince, 210, 213, 

221, 224, 239, 243, 246-8, 274 
Menzel, Adolf, 53-5 
Michaelis, Herr, 139-40 
Mitzlaff, von, 40-1 
Moltke, General von, 118, 165-6, 

169, 171-2 
Morocco affair, 98 
Miildner, 94, 127-8, 173, 182, 190, 

268, 276-8, 281, 283 
Miiller, 71, 128, 224, 268, 276, 278, 


Naumann, Dr. Victor, 141 
Navy, British and German, 68-73, 

Nicholai, Grand Duke, 62, 65, 107, 


Nicholas, Tsar, 61-5, 107, 136 
Niemann, Major, 233, 260 

Oldenburg, von, 86 
Oscar, Prince, 153 

Pannwitz, von, 291 
Panther, 98 
Peace Note, 217 
Peace Treaty, 90 



Peereboom, Burgomaster, 31, 109, 

163, 291 

Planitz, Captain von der, 61 
Plessen, General von, 19, 233, 240, 

244-5, 248, 253, 260-1 
Plettenberg, Col. von, 39 
Pliiskow, Major von, 39 
Pohl, Admiral, 71 
Poland, 139 
Prell, Herr, 127 
Prittwitz, Herr von, 277 

Rantzau, Count, 39 
Reuter, Colonel von, 113 
Rodern, Count, 210 
Rostock, Mr., 127 
Rupprecht, Prince, 221 

Salisbury, Lord, 75 
Scheer, Admiral, 259 
Scheuch, General, 217, 273, 277 
Schiller quoted, 114 
Schlieffen, 134, 166, 169 
Schmettow, von, 269 
Schonhausen, Count, 212 
Schroder, Col., 283, 286-7 
Schulenburg, General Count von 

der, 153, 195, 233-53, 257-9, 

267-8, 275-81 
Schumacher, 47 
Serbia, Ultimatum to, 107 
Spender, Harold, 85 
Stein, von, 217 
Steuben, Capt. von, 271 
Steurmer, 136-9 
Stuart, Sir Harold, 103 
Stiilpnagel, Major von, 52, 251 
Suffrage question, 152 

Talleyrand, 25 
Tappen, Col., 166, 169 
Third Party System, 17-18 
Tirpitz, Admiral von, 68-73, 79, 

96, 1 01 
Tisza, Count, 184 

U-boat warfare, 142, 144 

Valentini, 139, 153 
Verdun, Battle of, 173-9 

Victoria, Queen, 37, 44-5 
Von der Tann, 104-5 

Wahnschaffe, von, 245 

Wartenburg, Count York von, 162 

Wedel, von, 40, 54 

Wergin, 51 

Westerflier, Baron van, 284 

Widemann, 50 

William, Crown Prince, passim. 
At coronation of George V, 
105 ; childhood, 14-37 ' exiled 
to Holland, 267-96 ; extract 
from Diary on Germany's mili- 
tary collapse, 220 ; " Laughing 
Murderer of Verdun," 1789 ; 
learns a trade, 36 ; letters on 
leaving army, 273-5, 280-1 ; 
lover of sport, 20, 42 ; marriage, 
58 ; matriculates at Bonn, 45- 
7 ; Memorial after Battle of 
Aisne, 141-6 ; opinion of British 
administration, 103, 117 ; rela- 
tions with Kaiser, 15-29, etc. ; 
relations with Kaiserin, 14-15, 
44, 56, 87, 93, 109, 172, 183, 
229-32 ; representative of 
Kaiser, 87-8 ; tour in the East, 
102 ; Wieringen, 130, 287 

William, German Emperor ,passim. 
Abdication, 221, 238, 243-66 ; 
at Spa, 233 ; character, 91 ; 
letter to Crown Prince on abdi- 
cation, 258 ; services to Ger- 
many, 192-4 ; the Daily Tele- 
graph interview, 85-8, 98 ; 
various references on pages 107, 
109, 114, 125, 128, 206, 209, 
230, 233, etc. 

Wilson, President, 217-22 

Witte, Count, 63 

Wolff's Bureau, 246 

Wortley, General Stuart-, 85 

Wrangel, Baron, 43 

Zabern incident, 112 

Zitelmann, 47 

Zobeltitz, 190-1, 226, 268, 281, 

284, 285 
Zorn, 47 

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