Why did the Nazis support Hitler?

The brown nobility and the Nazis: we publish the letters from Crown Prince Wilhelm to Hitler

“God protect you and our German fatherland! Sieg Heil! ”When the German Crown Prince Wilhelm, son of the abdicated Hohenzollern Emperor Wilhelm II, learned of the victory of the Nazi troops against Holland, Belgium and France in June 1940, he was excited about the campaign - and the commander in chief behind it. In a letter to the Führer Headquarters, he praised Adolf Hitler in the highest tones. Thanks to his “brilliant leadership”, the “incomparable bravery of our troops” and “their first-class armament”, it was possible to force the other European countries to surrender.

The support of the House of Hohenzollern for the National Socialist dictatorship is again a topic in the German public these days. The reason: the nobles want money from the German state. And plenty of it. The Hohenzollern heir Georg Wilhelm is demanding 1.2 million euros from the state of Brandenburg as well as works of art and a right to live in Cecilienhof Palace as compensation for the fact that the aristocratic family was expropriated during GDR times.

Admiration on every Führer birthday

The aristocracy and the state are now arguing about the compensation claims in court. The main question is: Has the House of Hohenzollern forfeited its claim to compensation because it supported the Nazi regime?

We publish correspondence between Crown Prince Wilhelm and Hitler and the Reich Chancellery from 1933 to 1940, which can be found in the Berlin branch of the Federal Archives (file number: BAB, R 43 / 40-3). The letters show that Wilhelm was a staunch National Socialist who repeatedly offered his help to Hitler.

So Wilhelm congratulated the dictator annually on his birthday and New Year. Also on the death of the “father of the SS” and Hitler's bodyguard, Julius Schreck, Wilhelm Hitler condoled “[i] n unchanged attitudes”. Over the years, Wilhelm’s greetings have actually remained euphoric. In December 1936, for example, Wilhelm conveyed to Hitler his “most sincere wishes” for Hitler's “beneficial work for the benefit of our beloved people and fatherland”.

Birthday greetings from Wilhelm to Hitler in 1936

With this, Wilhelm continued a long shared history with the Nazis. As early as 1926 - seven years before power was handed over to the National Socialists - he had received Hitler at his Cecilienhof Palace (later expropriated by the Soviets and now the focus of the compensation negotiations). During a further visit in 1932, Wilhelm Hitler suggested that Wilhelm could become President of the Reich and that Hitler “under him” Chancellor. After this failed due to a ban imposed by his father, Wilhelm called for the election of Hitler. As a result, he boasted that he had won two million votes for the Nazis. Even after the transfer of power to the Nazis in 1933, he showed himself at propaganda events of the NSDAP, including on March 21 at the “Potsdam Day”.

Congratulations on the war

That Wilhelm not only pretended to provide support in order to avert worse - as the House of Hohenzollern is currently arguing in the compensation negotiations - also emerges from Wilhelm's later letters. After the invasion of Bohemia and Moravia and the subsequent annexation of the territories to Nazi Germany in 1938, Wilhelm Hitler conveyed his "feelings of admiration" and "sincere congratulations".

Congratulations on the attack on Bohemia and Moravia

Shortly after the start of the war in September 1939, he asked Hitler to “be used” in a “military position” during the war. In relation to his son, who was also called Wilhelm, this actually happened. He died in fighting during the invasion of France in May 1940. The head of the Nazi Reich Chancellery and later war criminal Hans Lammers then wrote condolences to Wilhelm.

The death of his son did not detract from the Crown Prince's enthusiasm for the Nazis. Just a month later, Wilhelm Hitler congratulated Hitler on the fact that Germany had forced its enemies to surrender thanks to the “brilliant leadership”. Now the way is clear for the "final settlement with the perfidious Albion", as the National Socialists called the "British enemy".

Congratulations on the war

No distancing

Wilhelm survived the war. In the years that followed, he did not distance himself from the National Socialists - not even until his death in 1951. Admittedly, a denazification process for Wilhelm probably took place in the former royal seat of Hechingen after the war. Nevertheless, the relevant files and evidence cannot be found in the responsible state archive in Sigmaringen. The archive does not have any indications as to where these documents have gone.

There was no controversial discussion about the role of Wilhelm in post-war Germany. In addition to some benevolent apologetic publications on Wilhelm, there is still hardly any systematic research on the role of the noble family in National Socialism, which also makes it difficult to clarify the complaint about the compensation claims. The Hohenzollerns sometimes take legal action against critical reports.

The source situation is another problem: While the Federal Archives - as in the case of the letters we published - have some documents on Wilhelm available, a large part of the noble estate is in the private archives of the Hohenzollern family. Access to the documents can therefore be closed again at any time.

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→ The documents on the brown nobility

Dear State Secretary! Dear Lammers! His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, currently in Oels, let me know that he had contacted you last week to arrange a meeting with the Reich Chancellor and, subject to the date yet to be determined, had received a fundamentally positive answer. The Crown Prince has asked that I attend this meeting. He would be extremely happy if the Chancellor would bring you with him. If your busy time makes it possible, I would be very grateful, dear Lammers, if I could speak to you briefly before this meeting. Perhaps you will have the kindness to let me know where I can go and see you. With warm greetings in old comradeship and the request for recommendations to your dear wife, your Foerster
The opinion of His Royal Highness the Duke of Coburg is correct insofar as these are medals that were awarded by former sovereigns before November 17, 1935. Hail Hitler! Your very devoted
Dear Chancellor of the Reich! My leader! It is my need to be able to convey to you my warmest and most sincere wishes for your personal well-being and for the well-being of our beloved fatherland at the turn of the year. Hoping to have the pleasure of seeing you again at the beginning of the year, I remain with warm regards, your faithful Wilhelm
The State Secretary and Head of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, April 24, 1935. Berlin, April 18, 1935. Unter den Linden 36. To the Führer and Reich Chancellor of the German Reich, Mr. Adolf Hitler, Dear Reich Chancellor! On your birthday, I send you my most sincere and warmest congratulations! May the new year bring you the best of health and full success in all areas, but especially in foreign, economic and domestic political relationships. The freedom of defense that you have given to the German people has made us all happy and every German man will work with a joyful heart in the further development of our fatherland. Recalling the debate with gratitude, during which various misunderstandings were cleared up, I would like to express my wish to be able to speak to you again when the opportunity arises.
The occasional meeting of the Heroes' Remembrance Day and the opening of the exhibition on Polish art were a great pleasure for me! I remain with special reverence with renewed wishes and best regards, your faithful Wilhelm
The State Secretary and Head of the Reich Chancellery Reichsdiensttelegram: His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia Ce c i 1 i e n h o f near Potsdam. The Fiihrer and Chancellor has instructed me to express his sincere thanks to Your Imperial Highness for the kind letter of congratulations dated 18th of Mts. to submit. State Secretary and Head of the Reich Chancellery Dr Lammers.
Carl Eduard Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Berlin, November 27, 1935 Private! Dear Lammers! Nord tells me about your conversation yesterday about the Hohenzollern House Order. Allow me a few private words on this: I am genuinely amazed at the Royal Administration's application for approval. After I submitted the application to the Kaiser on December 7, 1932 for a loan from my then employees Friedrichs, Hildebrandt, Nord and the Kaiser not only approved the loan to me on December 17, 1932, but also in writing on January 27, 1933 as the date of the award the royal administration was given ample time to hand over the insignia. According to the wording of the latest law, I do not understand why a subsequent approval is required to award a Hohenzollern house order, which should be made out on January 27, 1933 according to an imperial word given to me. But I know that neither me nor the men named above are interested in a different award date. I felt it was my duty to present my opinion to you, dear Lammers, so that no false images emerge. I regret, frankly, that the Royal Administration is bringing you into the inevitable situation of a negative decision by means of a motion that is incomprehensible to me in every direction. In the pleasant hope that yesterday evening was good for you, I remain faithful to you with the request for a recommendation to your dear wife
Berlin W 8, December 29, 1935. Dear Reich Chancellor! At the beginning of 1936 I would like to express my warmest wishes for your personal well-being and for further beneficial work for the benefit of our beloved people. The past year has been full of effort and work. The German people are grateful for your merit for having successfully steered Germany through all the turmoil of the times. Proud of the regained military sovereignty and freedom of defense, all nationally minded Germans express the wish that your further work may also be accompanied by God's blessing. Sincerely, your faithful Wilhelm
The State Secretary and Head of the Reich Chancellery of His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia Unter den Linden 36 Berlin W8 The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor asked me to convey his sincere thanks to Your Imperial Highness for the congratulations at the turn of the year Punkt I thank you respectfully for the wishes that have been expressed to me Your Imperial Highness also wishes to kindly accept my sincere congratulations at the turn of the year. The State Secretary and Head of the Reich Chancellery, Dr. L a m e r s