Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was Germany’s third and final emperor. Today we are offering six large-format photographs related to his funeral. He was Kaiser Friedrich III and Kaiserin Victoria’s oldest son. [Friedrich (1831-1888) was Kaiser Wilhelm I’s heir, while the Kaiserin (1840-1901) was the oldest daughter of England’s Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819-1861)]. Wilhelm II assumed the throne in 1888, after both his father and grandfather died within ninety-nine days of one another. Wilhelm II ruled Germany from 1888 until his abdication in November 1918. At that time he was exiled to Haus Doorn in the Netherlands, where he remained until his death in 1941. He never was allowed to return to Germany, not even for his own burial. His final resting place was in a mausoleum built on Haus Doorn’s grounds.
Many officers who had served during Wilhelm II’s reign came to pay their respects at his funeral. Most notable was Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen. Wilhelm II had been the dashing von Mackensen’s staunch supporter, advancing his career over other, more senior officers. Mackensen always felt extreme loyalty for his Kaiser, to the point that he laid his greatcoat over his former monarch’s casket.
Each photograph measures 5 ¼” x 7 ¼.” Their details are noted below.
1). Kaiser Wilhelm II’s flag-draped coffin. A large painting of the Kaiser appears behind the coffin, which is draped with the Kaiser’s flag. Massive candle holders surround it. The photo’s reverse features an official photographer’s stamp for “S. Fritz” with the SS’s double runes.
2). A procession of mourners. Many officers wearing Imperial Period, Nazi military, and Nazi political uniforms are present. Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen (1849-1945) appears at the front. Mackensen is wearing the 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr 1’s uniform, as was his wont. His stern face peering out from under his busby bristling with its large Totenkopf is awe-inspiring. The photo’s reverse features an official photographer’s stamp for “S. Fritz” with the SS’s double runes.
3). Open hearse being loaded with Kaiser Wilhelm II’s flag-draped coffin. Stahlhelm-wearing soldiers who will form the coffin’s guard stand in attendance, as do several officers wearing pickelhauben. A naval officer stands in the building’s doorway.
4). An Oberst and a General Holding ordenkissen (decoration pillows). It was customary at an officer’s funeral to have another officer march ahead of the hearse holding a pillow bearing the dead officer’s awards. Here, the Oberst on the right carries an ordenkissen holding the late Kaiser’s many awards. He also holds a sword belonging to the former monarch. The general on the left wears his full General Officer’s uniform and pickelhaube. He holds the ordenkissen carrying the Kaiser’s Generalfeldmarschall baton. A cleric stands behind these two officers. The honor guard is forming on either side of the automobile as the funeral cortege is being organized. The photo’s reverse features an official photographer’s stamp for “S. Fritz” with the SS’s double runes.
5). The funeral cortege on the march. At the cortege’s head are the two Imperial officers carrying Kaiser Wilhelm II’s twin ordenkissen. Following them is the open hearse bearing the late Kaiser’s flag-draped coffin. A group of mourners honoring the late Kaiser walk behind the automobile. To the automobile’s right a platoon of stahlhelm-wearing troopers salutes Wilhelm II’s body on its way to the waiting train.
6). Two young men in Nazi military uniforms. I am not 100% certain that this photograph belongs with the Kaiser’s group, although their surroundings resemble those of the other photographs. One of the young men wears a Luftwaffe uniform, Since it came with the five other photographs, I am including it.
This is a fine historical group.