Hohenzollern dispute about history in the NS: Nobility, Nazis and no resistance

Hohenzollern dispute about history in the NS: Nobility, Nazis and no resistance

Have the Hohenzollerns realized that they are not entitled to any further restitutions given their history? An event in Berlin raises doubts.

Three men in suits sitting in the federal press conference

Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia (middle of the picture) on Thursday (March 9) in Berlin Photo: Christian Ditsch

Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia has chosen a special day to officially announce his withdrawal from the lawsuit. Because on March 9th, namely in 1888, Kaiser Wilhelm I also died. Conservatives like to cite him as the embodiment of “old Prussian” virtue in contrast to the decadence and political erraticism of the later Wilhelmine era. However, what exactly “old Prussian virtue” is and what its present value is supposed to be, mostly remains unclear.

A similar narrative seems to be guiding the event in the house of the federal press conference on Thursday. The Prince of Prussia had invited and made it clear right at the beginning that this was a “historian panel”, i.e. not a press conference in the strict sense.

His great-grandfather, Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882–1951), was the focus of a historian’s debate about how much the toppled German imperial family and the German aristocracy were involved in the Nazis’ seizure of power. The Hohenzollern heirs denied this, since they would otherwise be unworthy of receiving restitutions for the expropriations by the Soviet military administration within the meaning of the Compensation Benefits Act of 1994.

There the evidence for the brown crown prince has recently become more and more overwhelming, his second eldest son Louis Ferdinand (1907-1994), the grandfather of today’s Hohenzollern boss Georg Friedrich, is now to be brought into position. Louis Ferdinand was loosely associated with the national conservative resistance against Hitler.

After the Second World War, Louis Ferdinand advanced to become a liberal-conservative identification figure in the West. Antonia Podhraski from Chemnitz University of Technology, former assistant to Frank-Lothar Kroll, is working on a dissertation on him and gave a presentation at the Federal Press Conference in Berlin. Podhraski spoke after almost an hour. In the spirit of the Hohenzollern legends, it too had something to offer that was more to be expected.

Right-wing extremist, but too limited?

Previously, Lothar Machtan (“The Crown Prince and the Nazis”) repeated his results, which were largely criticized by the historians’ guild study on the crown prince co-financed by the House of Hohenzollern. Even Machtan could not avoid attesting to the right-wing extremist sentiments of the crown prince. However, he considers him too intellectually limited to have played a major role in the rise of the Nazis.

An interpretation that was apparently due to the restitution dispute that was dormant in court. Machtan now advocated “to the sources themselves”. His dossier of almost 1,500 documents on the political activities of “Wilhelm Kronprinz” has been uploaded to the Prussian family’s website since Thursday.

power reinforced in Berlin his assertion that Wilhelm was “never an asset of high politics in Germany been”, rather a “trump card” with which “Brüning, Papen, Schleicher” and “their inheritance smugglers Hitler” would have “gambled”, but “never in public”.

Peter Brandt, the fourth person on the podium put together by the Hohenzollerns, disagrees. He thinks it is “more plausible” that the prominent election call by the crown prince for Hitler in the 1932 presidential election was “more useful” to the Nazis, i.e. the overthrown imperial Prussian family actually encouraged the destruction of the republic and the establishment of fascism have.

New focus

But now that Georg Friedrich von Prussia has announced that he will drop his lawsuits, the question is: where does he want to go? The fact that he wants to withdraw from court is widely attributed to his poor chances of success. Before an indignity would have been legally determined, it would appear that they would rather pull themselves out of the affair. And instead focus on less brown burdened members of the historic Hohenzollern family.

This historical-political impetus becomes very clear with Schlie, who claims in his introduction that “abroad” looks closely at the openness of the restitution debate, which is “a benchmark for our climate of opinion”. An interesting twist, since it was the “Hohenzollern” side which overwhelmed critical scientists and journalists with legal proceedingsto intimidate them.

Schlie also mentions Stephan Malinowski in order to put his genealogy of a continuous (historical) political commitment of the Hohenzollerns for debate over three generations: Kaiser Wilhelm, the Crown Prince and Prince Louis Ferdinand, who in the USA belonged to the circle of the anti-Semite Henry Ford . Podhraski immediately seconded that Louis Ferdinand and Ford were about motorization and modernization, not anti-Semitism.

But that’s not what Malinowski is about either. The historian teaching at Edinburgh, who received the German Non-Fiction Prize 2022 for his book “Die Hohenzollern und die Nazis”. rather aims at the historical-political staging of Louis Ferdinand as an “omnipresent figure after 1945” who “always recognized National Socialism as evil and wanted to have been close to the resistance early on”. As a symbolic figure of the “noble grand tale” he labeled as “Dönhoffism”. […]in which Hitler allegedly from the beginning as […] ridiculous figure and criminal recognized’.

New edition of the right grand narrative

A revitalization of this grand narrative, which is common in educationally conservative circles as well as in circles of the vulgar right, is now possibly at stake. Barely addressed on this morning in snowy Berlin, the actual subject of the dispute became: the restitution claims that have now been dropped. In addition to the goods that fall under the Compensation Benefits Act, there are other goods whose provenance is disputed.

Keywords here would be “Aryanization” and “looted art” as well as legal property of the Prussian family, which is lent to state museums. While the lawsuits were being filed, the press offices of some of the affected government agencies in Brandenburg and Berlin were clearly concerned that loan agreements could not be renewed.

The lender does not want to know anything about this, emphasizing that loans will “also be made available on request in the future”. But also refers to safety precautions in state showrooms, which are probably not the best everywhere.

As well as the family-owned Hohenzollern Castle near Hechingen, “one of the most popular private museums in Germany”. Whether some of the exhibits previously shown in Berlin or Brandenburg will only be on display at the Zollernalb in the future? You will see. It would be in doubt to get over.

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