End of the line for Germany's Last Emperor
The Independent, Tony Paterson
Sunday, 18 November 2012
His mummified corpse is draped with a flag displaying the black eagle of Prussia. On the manicured lawn outside the white mausoleum containing his remains, a stone plaque marks the grave of his dog Senta which accompanied him throughout the catastrophe of the First World War. Visitors to the final resting place of Germany's often reviled last monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II, could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled on a bizarre attempt to create a modern equivalent of an Egyptian Pharaoh's tomb. Yet the eerie atmosphere of House Doorn – the 17th-century manor house near Utrecht where Queen Victoria's grandson found exile after Germany's defeat in 1918 – does not end there. "We do everything we can to keep the house exactly as it was when the Kaiser lived here," explained Doorn's director, Eymert-Jan Goossens.
A pocket-size imperial court
Huis Doorn has become known as the last residence of the last German Kaiser, Wilhelm II.
After the German defeat in World War I, Wilhelm flees to the neutral Netherlands and he lives on this estate in the Utrecht Hills from 1920 to 1941. In Doorn he surrounds himself with objects reminiscent of the past.
In 1919 he buys Huis Doorn, originally a 14th century moated seat, converted into an elegant country house at the end of the 18th century.
Wilhelm has the house adapted and fitted with all modern conveniences. He also makes some changes to the park (35 hectares), laid out in the English landscape garden style.
The furnishings in Huis Doorn come from the palaces in Berlin and Potsdam. Splendid furniture, paintings and silver enable the royal asylum-seeker to keep up his former lifestyle.
Against this European backdrop a pocket-size court-ceremonial is enacted every day.
This imperial residence-in-exile is now a museum. The original inventory is still completely intact and offers the visitor an authentic image of international royal residential culture.
During guided tours the history of the Kaiser, his era and art collection is brought to life.