House Doorn: Kaiser Wilhelm II

up:Date January 30, 2023 by Bonn Brandt

German Imperial Exile

The last German Emperor Wilhelm II lived in exile in House Doorn in the Netherlands in the years 1920 to 1941. The estate was acquired by him in 1919. Today Huis Doorn is open to the public and serves as a museum. It displays the personal belongings and artefacts of the late monarch.

View from Kaiser Wilmelm's II living room to the garden at Doorn Exile
View to the garden of the House Doorn

Peter Bock-Schroeder photographed the work room of Wilhelm II, the deathbed of Queen Auguste Victoria, the library, the unique art collection, decorative tobacco boxes, the porcelain tableware, letters from Queen Victoria and other remembrances of the imperial era.

The Last Emperor's Exile

House Doorn

House Doorn, the residence of Wilhelm during his exile, is a significant historical landmark. The house was built in the late 19th century and was originally owned by a wealthy Dutch businessman.

The house served not only as Wilhelm's residence, but also as a place for political meetings and a rallying point for the German nobility.

The Imperial residence is an important historical landmark that provides insight into the life of Kaiser Wilhelm II during his exile.

It is also a reminder of the fall of the German Empire and the impact it had on the lives of those who lived through it.

The house and its exhibits offer a unique perspective on history and provide a glimpse into the life of one of the most significant and tragic figures of the 20th century.

A Visit to Kaiser Wilhelm's House Doorn

The study of the last German Emperor Wilhelm II in House Doorn
The study of the last German Emperor Wilhelm II

Today, House Doorn is a museum open to the public for tours. Visitors can explore the house and see the personal possessions of Wilhelm, including his furniture, artwork, and other items that he collected during his lifetime.

The house features exhibits on the history of the German Empire and the life of Wilhelm in exile.

The gardens, which were so important to Wilhelm, are also open to visitors and are a beautiful spot to explore.

In addition to the permanent exhibits the house also hosts special events to learn more about Wilhelm and the history of the German Empire in an engaging and interactive way.

House Doorn is a popular destination for visitors to the Netherlands, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

The museum offers a unique glimpse into the life and legacy of Kaiser Wilhelm II and provides an important window into the history of Germany and the world.

The Significance of the Imperial residence

The uniform of Kaiser Wilhelm II on a clothes rack at the staircase of House Doorn in Holland
The Hidden Gems of House Doorn

During his exile in Doorn, Wilhelm lived a relatively quiet and isolated life. The last German Emperor was restricted to a radius of 15 kilometres around the estate. He spent much of his time at the house, where he had a small staff to attend to his needs.

The conversion and furnishing of the rooms took place in 1920. The interior was brought from the Berlin City Palace, Bellevue Palace, Charlottenburg Palace and the New Palace in Potsdam.

German Finance Minister Albert Südekum approved the release "for the furnishing of the imperial flat" in 1919. The shipment was made to Holland in 59 Railway carriages.

In particular, Wilhelm's relationship with Eduard von der Heydt, banker and renowned art collector, proved extremely useful in transferring funds.

The considerable financial resources made it possible for Doorn House to be renovated and modernised. Equipped with the highest level of comfort, it was transformed into a royal mansion and a royal lifestyle was maintained.

Sawing or chopping wood became his passion. Wilhelm II was also a passionate dog lover. A monument to his three beloved dachshunds, buried under small gravestones on the lawn next to the house, is testimony to this.

The museum is a valuable resource for scholars and researchers, offering a wealth of information on the life and times of Kaiser Wilhelm II, as well as the art and antiques of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

House Doorn is a testament to Kaiser Wilhelm's passion for the arts and sciences and serves as a lasting tribute to his legacy.

The Kaiser's Final Residence

Picture frames of the German Empress in House Doorn
Remembrance of the German Empress

His first wife, Augusta nicknamed Dona, died at Huis Doorn 11 April 1921 and her body was taken back to Potsdam in Germany, where she was buried in the Antique Temple. Wilhelm could only accompany her on her last journey as far as the German border.

The museum features numerous exhibitions, including Kaiser Wilhelm's personal collections of antiques, such as Baroque silver and porcelain, as well as paintings and furniture from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Visitors can also see his private rooms, including his study, bedroom, and dining room, which have been preserved just as they were during his lifetime.

The house, located in Doorn, Netherlands, was furnished with many items from Wilhelm's previous palaces and residences.

Interior design at House Doorn
Interior design at House Doorn

The historic estate offers a glimpse into the life and interests of this complex figure and provides a fascinating window into a key moment in European history.

Kaiser Wilhelm's private rooms

Kaiser Wilhelm's Bathroom
House Doorn

Wilhelm's very private side in Doorn: the bathroom with washstand and dishes, and the blue and gold glazed toilet bowl hidden in a cupboard.

The Life of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Miniature Statue of the German Emperor Wilhelm on his Desk House Doorn
Kaiser Wilhelm and Quenn Victoria

Kaiser Wilhelm II was born in Berlin in 1859, the eldest grandson of Queen Victoria of England. He became the German Emperor in 1888, succeeding his father, Emperor Frederick III.

During his reign, Kaiser Wilhelm II was known for his strong personality, conservative views, and support of the military. He was a patron of the arts and sciences, with a particular interest in archaeology, natural history, and photography.

However, his rule was marked by several controversies, including his opposition to democracy and his support of the First World War, which ultimately led to his abdication in 1918.

After the war, Kaiser Wilhelm went into exile in the Netherlands, where he lived for the rest of his life. Despite his controversial legacy, he remains a fascinating figure of German history.

Imperial Court Relics in House Doorn
Imperial Court Relics

His mother was the eldest daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria. At the time of his birth, his great-uncle Frederick William IV was king of Prussia, and his grandfather and namesake Wilhelm was acting as regent.

He was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Wilhelm was a first cousin of the future King George V, as well as of Queens Marie of Romania, Maud of Norway, Victoria Eugenie of Spain, and the Empress Alexandra of Russia

Kaiser Wilhelm II expressed the view that Queen Victoria, the grandmother of King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas, would not have tolerated the first World War if she had been alive.

Beyond the Fall of the German Empire

View from the room of the Doorn house to the garden
House Doorn

The fall of the German Empire in 1918 was the result of a number of factors, including the defeat of Germany in World War I, economic struggles, and political unrest.

As the leader of the empire, Wilhelm bore much of the blame for the fall and was forced to abdicate in November of that year.

On 8 November 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II resigned and went into exile in Holland, where he was granted asylum by Queen Wilhelmina.

He chose to reside in Doorn, a small town located in the province of Utrecht. The last German emperor lived in House Doorn from 1920 until his death in 1941.

The monarchy's last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist, was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown.

Despite the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940, Wilhelm and his household went undisturbed by the Wehrmacht.

The Legacy of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Uniform of Kaiser Wilhelm II in House Doorn
Uniform of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm's biographer Lamar Cecil identified Wilhelm's "curious but well-developed anti-Semitism", noting that in 1888 a friend of Wilhelm "declared that the young Kaiser's dislike of his Hebrew subjects, one rooted in a perception that they possessed an overweening influence in Germany, was so strong that it could not be overcome"

Photographs and Postcards from the Private Collection of the Last German Emperor
Photographs from the Private Collection

The 82-year-old Wilhelm II died in Doorn on 4 June 1941 and was buried in a mausoleum in the park at his own request.

The monarch's last words were full of emotion: I'm sinking, I'm sinking ...

The coffin of the last German Emperor in the mausoleum in Doorn
Kaiser Wilhelm's II mausoleum in Doorn

"There's a man alone, without family, without children, without God ... He builds legions, but he doesn't build a nation. A nation is created by families, a religion, traditions: it is made up out of the hearts of mothers, the wisdom of fathers, the joy and the exuberance of children ... For a few months I was inclined to believe in National Socialism. I thought of it as a necessary fever.

And I was gratified to see that there were, associated with it for a time, some of the wisest and most outstanding Germans. But these, one by one, he has got rid of or even killed ... He has left nothing but a bunch of shirted gangsters! This man could bring home victories to our people each year, without bringing them either glory or danger.

But of our Germany, which was a nation of poets and musicians, of artists and soldiers, he has made a nation of hysterics and hermits, engulfed in a mob and led by a thousand liars or fanatics." ― Wilhelm on Hitler, December 1938

House Doorn Rare Photos

Peter Bock-Schroeder in Kaiser Wilhem's II Uniform
Autoportrait: Peter Bock-Schroeder in Kaiser Wilhem's II Uniform
In 1960 German Photo Reporter Peter Bock- Schroeder visited the Villa Doorn, Kaiser Wilhelm's II exile in Holland. There he had free access to all rooms and the mausoleum. Peter Bock-Schroeder's pictures provide insight on how the former emperor, his first and second wife lived in Huis Doorn, in the Netherlands.

The last German Emperor in House Doorn FAQ

Kaiser Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, who abdicated in 1918 and went into exile in the Netherlands following World War I.

The House Doorn is a mansion in the Netherlands where Kaiser Wilhelm II lived in exile from 1919 until his death in 1941.

The House Doorn is home to a large collection of Baroque silver and porcelain, paintings, and furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as personal items belonging to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Pushkin Museum Moscow
Pushkin Museum Moscow

The Moscow State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is considered to be one of the major museums of international art in Russia.

Otto von Habsburg at his desk
Otto von Habsburg, 1962

Habsburg would have succeeded his father as emperor on the throne of the Danube monarchy

Related Articles

The Power of Photography

Photography captures the soul of the moment

see more | read more
Why collect photographs ?

A reference guide for collectors of art photography

see more | read more
Looking at photos

The era of the great masters of photography is over

see more | read more