Wilhelm II: Prince and Emperor, 1859-1900

By Lamar Cecil | Go to book overview

Three
A POTSDAM LIEUTENANT

DONA AND WILHELM resided in the royal palace in the center of Potsdam until the renovations of the small but elegant "Marble Palace" on the outskirts of the town could be completed. This work was accomplished by the beginning of the summer, and in mid- June 1881 the relocation of the household took place. A considerable retinue of ladies-in-waiting and adjutants accompanied the bridal couple. The marshal of the court was Colonel von Liebenau, who had managed Wilhelm's household both at Cassel and at Bonn. The arrogant Liebenau was an unfortunate choice, for he was lacking in polish and governed Wilhelm's entourage in an authoritarian and parsimonious manner that soon annoyed everyone, including Wilhelm and Dona.1 Captain Adolf von Büllow, Wilhelm's adjutant since 1879, offered no counterbalance to Liebenau's strict, martial airs. The son of Bernhard Ernst von Büllow, Bismarck's trusted state secretary of the Foreign Office until his death in 1879, Bülow had been a schoolmate of Chancellor Bismarck's son Herbert.2 Wilhelm had an unreserved trust in his adjutant, to whom he would remain very attached until Büllow's death in 1897. Bülow was a redoubtable horseman but ill suited to be a courtier, for, like Liebenau, he had a rather brusque and coarse manner, which eventually rubbed off on his royal master. Even his brother Bernhard, a rising young diplomat who would eventually become imperial chancellor, admitted that Adolf's disposition had too heavy a dose of Potsdam.3 He also affected a sort of omniscience that Dona found very aggravating, and he was obstinate to a degree that Wilhelm's friend Count Philipp zu Eulenburg declared to be truly frightening.4 Neither Büllow nor Liebenau were the sort of men who could, or would, inculcate in Wilhelm modesty, reflection, or an appreciation of the world beyond the parade ground at Potsdam.

In Dona's suite from the first year of her marriage were three pious, aristocratic ladies destined to remain in service for almost forty years. Countess Theresa von Brockdorff, who assumed the position of chief

-55-

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Wilhelm II: Prince and Emperor, 1859-1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Names Appearing in Text and Notes xvii
  • One - The Heir 1
  • Two - The Education of A Prince 30
  • Three - A Potsdam Lieutenant 55
  • Four - The End of A Reign 88
  • Five - The Ninety-Nine Days of Kaiser Friedrich III 110
  • Six - Bismarck in Trouble 125
  • Seven - 1890 147
  • Eight - Caprivi, Eulenburg, and the Fall of Waldersee 172
  • Nine - Caprivi and the "New Course" 189
  • Ten - Uncle Chlodwig 212
  • Twelve - Our Arrogant Cousin, Albion 263
  • Thirteen - Rule Germania 291
  • Fourteen - Greatness and Eternal Glory 319
  • Notes 341
  • Bibliography of Manuscript Sources 441
  • Index 453
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