- The Kaiser's Guest: Private Frank MacDonald: www.testingidea.it: Books
- The Kaiser's guest
- The Kaiser, Dignitaries, and the Press as Guests of Albert Ballin
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Please try again later. Uncle Frank knocked about for years after the war until he started a Hunting and Fishing lodge in Canada, then sold that and came to the US where we lost track of him. My opnion is some what tilted And a few lessons in life are there. He never gave up trying to get free, both of captiviy and the horrors of trench warfare. It also has some of the humor men do thru to keep their sanity in situations like this. It's a good book Kindle Edition Verified Purchase.
A rambling tale of a Canadian soldier during WW I. The war and then prison camps and escapes make up the various segments. Somewhat interesting but moves toward tedium at times. This is an amazing story in great detail of what really happened during WWI. The Historical information is priceless as to the details of not only a soldier's extreme hardship, but as a prisoner of war's dangerous physical parils that had to be conquered to successfully escape! Much more than I expected and very well written!
Only once he spoke, and then he muttered the word "Douaumont," and I knew that he was dreaming of Verdun, the greatest of his failures. I SAW in one of the so-called memoirs of the period which I am reviewing, and which was published in a Scandinavian newspaper the other day, that the possibility of defeat, and all that defeat entailed came in the nature of a great shock and surprise to the members of the Imperial family. From this, which was written by some know-all or busybody, who probably was no nearer to the Imperial Court than a Copenhagen garret, you might suppose that the question of defeat and all that it entailed had never been discussed in the Imperial family circle.
Nothing is farther from the truth. I think I am right in saying that, from the very day that war broke out, both the Kaiser, his wife and other members of the family, except perhaps the Crown Prince, foresaw the possibility of the gravest issue of the war. Although the successes in March caused great elation, Berlin society was shocked by the news which leaked through later on of our terrible condition—soldiers refusing to fight, whole battalions marching away from the field, only the Guards faithful, etc. I had gone back to Spa after the events which I chronicled in my last chapter, and found that the Corps of Couriers had been increased to twelve, that is to say, had been more than trebled.
This meant that, as Chief and as Courier Confidential to the Emperor, I had only the more important errands to perform; and the Emperor always retained me for the really vital journeys. This also meant, in effect, that I was held in reserve and practically given no work. ONE morning the Emperor sent for me to his cabinet. I found him smoking a cigarette before a little wood fire, his hands in his pockets, his head on his breast. He turned his face to me as I entered the room and nodded in reply to my salute.
Her Majesty, as you know, has had a very bad nervous breakdown, and was making her recovery when fortune went against us. I did not reply, but stood to attention, waiting for the Emperor to continue. He has a trick of breaking his instructions by little or long intervals of silence, which it is not discreet to interrupt. Now he was gazing moodily into the fire, turning over the something which had caused him to send for me.
It was after an interval of about four minutes that he resumed. She has written to me asking that you should be sent to her. I think Her Majesty wants you to go on a special mission. You will leave to-night. One of Her Majesty's ideas is that if a courier could be got through into a certain country with which we were at war, and members of the Royal Family of that country could be interviewed, they would intervene on our behalf.
I want you to humour Her Majesty in that idea, but please believe that it is wholly impossible, that the country she refers to is not only ruled by constitutional methods, and the actual power in the hands of its Parliament, but the Royal Families to which she will make reference are bitterly antagonistic to me and as violently our enemies as any people in Europe. I want you to be back by next Thursday if it is possible. That will give you a week.
I am expecting His Imperial Highness," he added after a pause. There was no need to ask which Imperial Highness, because practically the only one of his sons who had access to him in those last days was the Crown Prince.
I left not at night, but by the afternoon train, and reached Berlin on the following morning. There was a heavy block on the line, troop trains were being rushed down, and I passed scores of long trains laden with war material to replace that which had been taken by the Allies in the recent fighting. But remember along the line I could not help noticing that officers and men were equally depressed and equally hopeless. She had not looked young for some time past.
Ordinarily a plain woman, whose plainness, however, was relieved by a magnificent head of white hair, she used to carry herself with a certain regal dignity which was impressive. Now, however, she was an old woman. All the steel, the fire—such as it was—the imperturbable calm with which she was wont to meet every situation, had departed from her.
Her face was haggard, her lips and hands trembled as she spoke, and she was sitting in a large invalid chair when I was ushered into the yellow drawing-room to meet her. I knew you would find some solution, my good Berghmann. You are so clever. I remember the way in which you found the silk I wanted, and how clever you were in organizing the Court concerts. I might have told Her Majesty that the ability of a young man—for I was young in those days—to match silks and organise a concert when every artiste in Berlin was anxious to appear did not necessarily imply a genius for strategy.
That has been in my mind all night long. I have not slept for four nights, Berghmann. Think of that—not for four nights. With a gesture she dismissed the ladies of honour who were about her. When we were alone she asked me in a whisper to see that the door was closed. I think by that she meant me to search beyond the door to discover whether there were any eavesdroppers. But at any rate, I did not take that extreme and uncomplimentary step. Do you realise this? I believe that the Emperor has been very badly advised indeed. The ambitions of men to rise to great place have been the undoing of Germany and the Imperial Family.
With this I was in complete agreement, and could say so with perfect honesty. I am sure that the troubles which have come to Germany have been brought about as much by the mistaken policy of giving Ludendorff a free hand to burn up the resources of the Empire as from any other cause. If necessary Majesty must make him a Prince, as he made Bismarck. As a matter of fact the Emperor did not make Bismarck a Prince but a Duke, but the Empress was always a little hazy even on the question of contemporary history.
And would it not be better if such instructions came from the Emperor? Carry a letter which I have written. If that is not enough, Berghmann, you must tell him that you have seen me, that I realise that the situation can only be saved and our dear Germany relieved of its terrible danger if the soldiers know that he is again commanding them, and that his genius and wisdom is leading them.
Now, the very last instructions which I had received came from Colonel Hintz, who came with me to the railway station at Spa and told me, as from the Emperor, that I was to carry out to the letter any instructions which the Empress might give to me, unless they involved direct commands in relation to operations. So I bowed and expressed my willingness to leave for Coblenz at the earliest moment. The Empress spent the whole of that afternoon writing in her private bureau.
When I went there at five o'clock to take tea with her the floor was littered with torn and unfinished sheets of paper, but there was a thick envelope addressed in her own handwriting to "The Illustrious Field-Marshal von Hindenburg," with most of his titles displayed, including, significantly enough, the Order of the House of Hohenzollern. He had been breakfasting with the District President at his residence just behind the Royal building.
I cannot honestly say that I noticed any change in the appearance of von Hindenburg. He was the same rugged, stern-looking man, with the same heavy, tired eyes and furrowed forehead, the same heavy movement of hand and body, the same brusque, booming voice greeted me, and the same resentful eyes watched me as I spoke.
He took the letter of the Empress with a little bow, walked to a window, opened and read it, going back sometimes two or three pages to re-read and impress upon his mind some of the incoherent instructions which the Empress had sent in her terror and frenzy. Presently he finished the letter, folded it up, and put it in an inside pocket of his tunic. When he had rebuttoned his grey coat he walked back to the table, his hands behind him, his eyes fixed upon the ground. It is too late, Berghmann. I have already told the Emperor that nothing can save us. No Berghmann, those people who for the past nine months have been engaged in a policy of disparagement, and who have been spending their time in belittling my qualities—God knows they are not so many as people think—with the object of exalting Ludendorff, have rendered the country a very bad service.
But please understand," he said quickly roared would be a better word, because that was his way of speaking , "that I have no inflated ideas of my own value. I am thinking not of my own conception of my genius, but of the country's faith. The country must have idols, and it matters little whether they have feet of clay and heads of wood, so long as they who worship have faith. They have no faith in Ludendorff, and Ludendorff, before he essayed this mad adventure of his, never ceased to work that the faith of the country in myself should be destroyed.
I cannot restore the confidence of the soldiers in ultimate victory. I have always known that this situation would arise if the Allies continued long enough. If we could only have kept the German people from the realisation of their defeat, we might have done anything because I am satisfied in my mind that the Entente Powers cannot last for another year, either on the point of finances or on the question of man-power.
Ludendorff has not only exposed the working of Germany's military machine, but he has exposed its appalling weaknesses. His task, as I told him twelve months ago, was not to secure victory, but to avoid defeat, and in that sentence you may mark my military policy. HE shrugged his shoulders and continued walking up and down the big room—it was in the Adjutant's room of the Royal building that this interview took place—and presently came to a halt before me.
I can no longer do so. It is not a military problem which Germany is facing, but a psychological problem. It is not defeat, for we have been in defeat ever since the battle of the Marne, but the knowledge of defeat. If you can present a ready-made formula by which I can convince seventy million people that the Allies cannot win, I will put it into operation. It was at this moment that there came perhaps one of the most dramatic moments that it has been my fortune or misfortune to live. There was a rap at the door, sharp and peremptory.
The Kaiser's Guest: Private Frank MacDonald: www.testingidea.it: Books
Hindenburg looked up with a frown. Again the rap was repeated. The door opened, and to my amazement Ludendorff came in. He was wearing his long grey cloak, which was covered with dust, and apparently he had just arrived by motor car. He looked uncomfortably from me to Hindenburg, and after saluting the Marshal he said: Am I interrupting you?
I have just come from the Crown Prince's headquarters. Can I see you, Marshall? That does not seem fair to me," he went on. I have not interfered in any respect with our schemes. I do not think it is necessary to make any further explanation. Ludendorff was nonplussed and hesitated. He was also very angry, as I could see. Hitherto I had only heard rumours of dissention between the two great men of Germany, and this was the very first time I had seen anything like signs of conflict between them.
Clearly he did not wish to quarrel with the old Marshal, for his next words were of a conciliatory nature. If the Ardennes are difficult to retreat through, they must be also difficult to advance through. You know who is your principal enemy—the British. You have seen what they can do in bad weather; they seem to revel in it, and our men do not like it as well. I don't think a break in the weather will help you, in fact, I am perfectly sure that it will lead to your destruction.
There can be no question of your retiring. You must see the thing through to a successful conclusion, or you must accept the responsibilities and consequences of defeat. The Marshal did not speak again till Ludendorff had gone, and then he returned straight away to the subject of the letter. Although I am virtually in charge of the Army, I must still leave Ludendorff to finish his work. I cannot take over control of military movements whilst Ludendorff is in the field, and I do not see any advantage in my doing so. If you will return to me to-night I will have a letter written for Her Majesty.
In the meantime I advise you to be reticent as to the object of your visit. I took my leave, and did not see Hindenburg again. When I returned at six o'clock I found his adjutant awaiting me with a letter heavily sealed. This letter will explain to the Empress the Marshal's peculiar position. She had another bad attack of nerves, and her daughter, the Duchess of Brunswick, had been summoned to the Palace. Her Imperial Highness came to see me—a tall, willowy girl, rather pretty, but with something of her brother William's temperament—the Duchess had all the Imperial qualities of the Hohenzollern house.
Is there anything exciting in this letter? She shook her head. Her blue eyes were fixed on mine with an expression of determination—a less charitable word would be obstinacy—which is the peculiarity of the Hohenzollerns. We will go to Madame von Stael. It was my turn to be astonished. Of course, everyone has heard of Madame von Stael I may be permitted to think that the "von" is an honorary title which the lady has adopted herself.
The Kaiser's guest
She was known in pre-war days as "the Emperor's soothsayer," and certainly of all the fortune tellers I have ever met Madame von Stael was the most amazingly gifted. She kept me waiting three-quarters of an hour before she put in an appearance, and then I found her plainly dressed and heavily veiled. A small closed motor car was waiting for us at one of the side doors of the Palace, and we drove down Linden to the corner block where, above Kellers, Madame Von Staehl had her salon.
She was, I found, a short, stout, dumpy woman, evidently with some native blood in her, for her face was swarthy and there were tell-tale half-moons on her fingernails. She welcomed us with a certain familiarity which grated upon me, and which suggested that this was not the first visit which the Duchess had paid. All sorts of people—officers and their wives, who want to know when the war is going to end and whether they will escape.
She produced from a cupboard a large crystal bowl, and set it on an Indian table in the centre of the room directly under a powerful overhead lamp, and the Duchess pulled up her chair opposite to this fortune-teller. But the Duchess was quite serious, and drank in every word that Madame Von Staehl uttered. The fortune-teller looked long and earnestly into the globe, and at last said—. What will happen to him?
I have endeavoured as far as possible to reproduce the conversation faithfully as it occurred, but naturally and necessarily there will be certain inaccuracies, because I did not take a short-hand note of the conversation. The Duchess asked many questions, mostly relating to herself, her husband, child, and relations, but not once did she ask about Germany and its future.
I was angry at finding myself trapped into this nonsensical experience, and determined, on my return to headquarters, to complain to the Emperor. But when the interview had concluded Madame Von Staehl said a thing which made me change my mind. I was amazed to discover that she took it calmly and as a matter of course. Apparently this was not the first visit which Madame Von Staehl had paid to the Emperor. She slipped a banknote into the fortune-teller's hand, and just as we were going she turned around and asked—.
In prison as likely as not, or drunk, or talking sedition to the Socialists. Whoever this person was who was referred to as the "Little Man" and the "Old Man," he was evidently not persona grata with Madame Von Staehl, for she replied shortly—. I was rather piqued to discover that there was something about the Court which I knew nothing of. I had never before heard of the Little Old Man, and evidently disreputable Little Old Man, whose presence was so urgently required, but that was another curious characteristic of my master, that he did enjoy these little secrets which he shared with none.
I ventured to ask Her Grand Ducal Highness on the way back to the Palace who the little man was, but she offered me no very satisfactory reply. I will give you full particulars. Later I was to meet the Little Old Man who turned out to be no other than the Herr Professor Mannesmann, of whom all scientists have heard. She was probably boasting and lying as all these theatrical charlatans boast, though I should believe that it is quite possible that His Majesty had consulted the woman on some previous occasion.
Certainly her precious "gifts" bore no relationship to those of the Professor. I was waiting that night in my room at the Adlon Hotel, when I was told that I must go to the Palace at once. This was about two o'clock in the morning. It was raining desperately, and as the Palace officials had omitted to send a car to fetch me, I had a three-mile tramp. To my amazement I was immediately conducted to the Kaiserin, who was fully dressed and alone.
As a rule, she expressed no repugnance at awaking people at any hour of the night, but this time she was apologetic, and more normal than I had seen her for months past. One tries to hide the deficiencies of other officials, so I made an excuse for the Master of the Stables, whose business it was to have seen that I was properly accommodated.
But she brushed my excuses for him aside. Your train leaves at eight. I did not sleep in truth, but spent the remainder of the night talking to the Kaiserin. She was, as I say, very calm and normal, and spoke about the Emperor and her children pleasantly and rather amusingly. I say rather amusingly because Her Majesty is not ordinarily a lady possessed of any great sense of humour. She was very distressed about Prince Eitel's domestic affairs.
As all the world knows, he and his wife did not get on very well together, she being much older than he and a terrible flirt. Eitel is the Kaiserin's favorite child. She stands too much in awe of the Crown Prince, and too vividly remembers the treatment by the Kaiser of his own mother to put much faith in William. And I have frequently noticed when she has been speaking to him that it was in a tone of deference rather than one of authority.
The coffee was brought in at five o'clock in the morning, and then it was that she gave me some inkling of the reasons for my recall. Did I tell you that? We have still a fleet, you know, Berghmann. The army must never forget that our navy remains unbeaten after the glorious battle of Jutland. I had my own views about the "glorious battle of Jutland. At any rate, there did not seem to be much prospect of the navy helping us out of our mess, because the British had built a number of new ships, as we knew—the most powerful in the world—and their fleet had been recently augmented by large squadrons from the United States Navy.
However, it does not do to remind Royal personages of unpleasant things, so I was discreetly silent. I found myself travelling westward with half-a-hundred members of the Ministry of Marine, including all the permanent heads of departments, the Chief of the Naval Intelligence; Count George Von Arco, the illustrious inventor of the Telefunken; and Count Albert Ballin, the head of the Hamburg American Line, who joined the train about ten miles outside of Berlin.
I knew Ballin very well, and I was surprised at the change that had come over him. I never saw a more depressed or wretched looking man, and I am certain that though he was a great lover of Majesty it was not the little quarrel which he had had with the Emperor which had produced that extraordinary change in his appearance. He looked haggard, his eyes were bloodshot, his clothes, usually so neat and spruce, were uncared for, and he did little save sit in a corner of the carriage, his hands thrust into his pockets, looking out at the dreary landscape.
I managed, however, to get a few words of conversation with him, because I knew that he more than any other man in Germany had a knowledge of the situation. I did not realise how soon he was to die by his own hand in despair at Germany's ghastly failure. Surely at this, the eleventh hour, they do not expect our men to go out and sacrifice themselves! They have had a fluke, and now they want a miracle. There is no more chance of wiping the British from the sea than there is of lifting Britain bodily and throwing it into Russia.
It was madness, madness! We put in less than two million on the assurance that we were going to rush through France and capture Paris in six weeks. The Entente say that we were prepared for war, and that we had been forty years preparing for it. Yes, so we had. But we were preparing for the wrong kind of war. If we had been ready for war, and understood what war would be, there would have been no question but that Germany would have come out on top, and that within a couple of months.
I tell you, Berghmann, that Germany is ruined, and it will take fifty years to recover from this damnable war—if it ever recovers. Did we not teach them that the lot of the conquered was to pay indemnity to the conqueror? Of course, they will ask for an indemnity. We taught them that at Versailles in We are ruined, ruined, Berghmann.
I think this was very nearly the last conversation on affairs that Ballin had with any private individual. The weather had changed long before we got to Cologne, and the old city was bathed in the radiance of an autumn sunset when we drove from the station to the hotel where the conference was to be held. Nobody knew whether the Emperor had arrived, but, as a matter of fact, he had been in the town for the greater part of twenty-four hours. On the advice of the Burgomaster he had not shown himself abroad because feeling was running very high in these Rhine towns.
This was partly the effect of the Allies' persistent policy of air raids, one of the most brutal systems of intimidating the civilian population that has ever been devised, and one which will everlastingly stand as a blot upon the chivalry and humanity of our enemies. Herr Berghmann characteristically omits to mention the fact that air raiding as a method of intimidating the civilian populations was first practised by the Germans, and that the British attacks upon the Rhine towns were by way of reprisal.
I had discovered overnight that the Emperor was in Cologne, but his adjutant advised me that there was no need for reporting my arrival, and that the Emperor desired to be alone. At nine the following morning, however, I was instructed to attend the meeting, rather to my surprise, because I know nothing whatever about the navy, except that it has been a great expense, and that money which has been spent upon it might with profit have been used to strengthen the army.
In other days, of course, I should not have been allowed to participate in the Councils, or to have been an auditor, but we were now reaching the time when we were standing less and less upon ceremony, and many irregular things were done which would have horrified the old Court and Government officials of other times.
The Emperor sat not at the head but at the side of a big table, and accommodation was found for the Admiralty chiefs. We minor officials formed a sort of background, drawing up our chairs as near as we possibly could to the table and bending forward to catch every opinion which was expressed. It has been said that the military chiefs participated in the Council of Cologne, but that is not true. There was a representative of the Prussian War Office present, but he was there deputising for the Financial Secretary of the Admiralty, who had been taken ill with influenza on the way to Cologne.
Neither Hindenburg nor Ludendorff nor Groener were in the room, and, except myself, who was a civilian, and the officer to whom I have referred, the whole conference was made up of naval men. The first part of the meeting was curiously like a Board meeting of an industrial company. The figures were produced, number of sailors, amount of provisions, munitions, etc.
IT was when this had been read by Von Scheer that the real "liveliness," as the British call it, began. After the report had been read by the Naval Secretary, the Emperor looked round at a vacant chair which was placed next but one to his own. I must say that there was nothing dejected in the mien of Admiral Von Tirpitz, and all who say that he came cringing to that meeting are telling that which is not true.
He was bright, buoyant, and cheerful. He had a smile for everybody, and accepted the Emperor's proffered hand as though it were his right. It is not true, therefore, to say that Von Tirpitz was ever in disgrace with the Emperor; or, if it was true, then, indeed, His Majesty was the most brilliant of actors, because I saw a genuine affection in his eyes as he gripped the Admiral's hand.
You only gain a day or two, and you might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. That would be a sign of weakness which would be tantamount to a confession of our defeat. No, I think that is a subsidiary question, and one which we need not seriously discuss. I take it that the object of this meeting is to decide what course to follow in relation to the fleet. What do you think, Von Scheer? It is curious what an extraordinary hold Von Tirpitz had over the situation to the very last, and, although he had no official standing, he was able to demand in that imperious tone of the acknowledged chief of the navy a statement of his plans.
That statement was, of course, a reflection upon him in the administrative capacity. I deplore the death of the Czar as much as any of his relations. I have done my best to check its growth. Nevertheless, I agree that if Bolshevism has found its way to our fleet it is because the fleet has been brought into contact with the Russians.
The question is—How far have those pernicious principles affected the morale of our sailors?
The Kaiser, Dignitaries, and the Press as Guests of Albert Ballin
The discipline and morale is most excellent. In other ships I am not so sure. Majesty will remember that there have been several outbreaks, and that last spring we had to shoot a number of the ringleaders. There is open talk of the insanity of sending them to sea to meet the combined British and American navies.
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They say that it is our intention to sacrifice them in order to save our own faces, and that idea is widespread. AGAIN a gloomy silence, and then began a general conversation—a very unusual thing at an important meeting of this description. Into the discussion the Kaiser's voice broke. Can anybody here tell me whether the navy will fight or whether it will not?
What do you say, Henry? And then for the first time I saw, not sitting at the Council Board, as I had expected, but a little aloof, the Emperor's brother. I had not seen him for three years, and I knew at one time that he was in disgrace. They have sworn loyalty to me and my house, and to-day they have an opportunity of fulfilling their vows.
The navy can yet save us by bold and resolute action. It is nonsense to suggest that we should surrender our fleet intact! Do you imagine that the British would give up whilst they had one ship that could take the water and one man that could fire a gun? The British have again and again pulled themselves out of the fire by the courage and resolution of their naval leaders, and I expect the German Navy, which is trained in the tradition of Nelson, to save Germany from defeat and humiliation at the hands of its enemies.
I appeal to you, gentlemen," he cried, with a sweep of his hand, "you who are intimately associated with the navy, and who know the sailors' hearts and know mine, to go to your ships, inspire your officers, and through them, inspire your men with the necessities of the moment.
At that moment a messenger came in with a telegram, which he handed first to Von Scheer, who read it, and handed it to the Emperor. I saw the Emperor's face go white, and then he said in a dull voice—. A notorious poem written in by the German-Jewish poet and dramatist Ernst Lissauer During all the years I have known him I have never seen him so distressed in mind, so short of temper and so petulant in manner as he was on the occasion of my visit. Of course, that was understandable, because the Royal Houses of Germany at this moment were in a highly nervous condition.
But, added to all his other troubles, he has a deeper and more human reason for resenting the turn of Fortune's wheel. I have already received a letter from His Majesty which leaves me in no doubt as to the suspicions he harbours against my house. He thinks we of Bavaria harbour ambitions for the throne of Germany. Well, you can dispel his mind of that, Berghmann. If matters take the turn which we expect, the post of the Emperor of Germany will be one which no intelligent Prince will care to accept.
I am no statesman, and I do not understand these things very much. He cannot give help—he wants it. I see a ridiculous rumour has been spread that a new confederation of German States will come into being under the spiritual leadership of Austria. Austria is not in a position to engage herself in any of those freakish adventures, and certainly the times are too unstable to form another monarchy.
We are all anxious, and naturally so. We have been loyal to Prussia, but Prussia is not Germany, and we have reached a point where Bavaria and Saxony and Wurtemburg must all strive to find a method by which they can avoid the overwhelming disaster which threatens the State, or rather, their State," he added as an afterthought. You Prussians think of the German Empire as something which has existed for thousands of years, a conglomeration of States under the direction of Prussia. Germany in reality is, and always has been, a collection of independent States, and though we have been somewhat hypnotised during the recent regime, we have never forfeited our right or our privilege to make independent representations, and, so far as Bavaria is concerned, to maintain a Minister Plenipotentiary at Foreign Courts.
He was so precise, and spoke in such a distinct and emphatic manner, that I realised he wished me to carry his message back to the Emperor, and on my return to my apartment I made a full note, so far as my memory served me, and I do not think I went far wrong, of the conversation so far as it related to the political position. My talk with the King that afternoon was on very much the same lines and produced exactly the same statements, couched practically in identical language, concerning independent Bavaria and her right to determine her own destiny.
The King, however, took a more gloomy view of the situation than the Crown Prince, and openly stated—and that in the presence of a number of officers who were in his salon when the conversation took place—that he was contemplating a very early retirement from Bavaria. If this were merely a record of the exchanged views and diplomatic conversations I am exaggerating my function when I liken myself to a Diplomat, but that loose description covers the occasion the chapter I am now writing would be quickly ended.
But as I said before, it was not wholly the grave national crisis which occupied the Crown Prince's mind and attention. He had been previously married to the Duchess Marie Gabrielle of Bavaria, by whom he had children, and he had always been a great favourite with the Grand Duchess. Of her beautiful sister Rupprecht was enamoured, and his engagement was announced in There are many people in Germany who believe that the girl was forced into the engagement, but I think time will show that this is one of the canards which so actively fly about or roost upon the Royal palaces of Europe.
He is a man of certain sentimentality, and I feel that I am rendering him no bad service when I reproduce three of the letters which fell into my hands in most remarkable circumstances. And let me say here that I praise Prince Rupprecht even though, from the documents which came into my hands, I am satisfied that he was planning to betray the House of Hohenzollern and to set up, despite his assurances and protests, a new Wittelsbach dynasty upon the Imperial throne.
LET me tell the story of how the letters came into my possession. It was the practice of the German Foreign Office to maintain secret agents not only in countries which might possibly be enemies in the future, but also in the Courts of the minor princes and kings whose States constituted the German Empire. We had at the Bavarian Court a man whom I will call Kline, whose business it was to report to Berlin any unusual happenings and to assist the other officers of the Intelligence Department who might temporarily be in Munich on business.
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