Der Münchner Putsch – The Munich Pustch

DER MÜNCHNER PUTSCH

 
‘Und ihr habt doch gesiegt !’


The Munich Putsch, (German: Hitlerputsch or German: Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch) was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power in Munich, Bavaria and Germany.

Commanders and leaders of the Putsch

Adolf Hitler
Erich Ludendorff
Ernst Röhm
Rudolf Hess
Ludwig Maximilian Erwin von Scheubner-Richter †
Hermann Göring
Otto von Lossow
Gustav Ritter von Kahr
Eugen von Knilling
Hans Ritter von Seisser

Social Background

Bürgerbräukeller  in München
Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München

Beer halls in the early 20th century existed in most larger southern German cities, where hundreds or even thousands of people were able to gather during the evenings, drink beer and often engage in political or social debate.

They were also places where political rallies could be held, a tradition still alive today.
One of the largest beer halls in Munich was the “Bürgerbräukeller”, where the Munich Putsch was launched.


Political Background

German power and prestige were destroyed in the aftermath of World War I.

Dolchstoßlegende

Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in the Dolchstoßlegende (Stab-in-the-back legend), which claimed that the army, “undefeated in the field,” had been “stabbed in the back” by civilian leaders and Jewish Marxists back on the home front, later dubbed the ‘November Criminals’.

In Munich, Hitler took part in “national thinking” courses organized by the Education and Propaganda Department of the Bavarian Reichswehr under Captain Karl Mayr.
Thereafter, Captain Mayr ordered Hitler, then an Army corporal, to infiltrate the tiny Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated DAP (German Workers Party).
Hitler joined the DAP on 12 September 1919.
Hitler rose to its top post in the chaotic political atmosphere of postwar Munich.
By agreement, Hitler was given the political leadership of several Bavarian “patriotic associations” (revanchist) which collectively were known as the ‘Kampfbund’.
With this political base, Hitler could call on about 15,000 brawlers, mostly ex-soldiers.

On 26 September 1923, following a period of turmoil and political violence, Bavarian Prime Minister Eugen von Knilling declared a state of emergency and appointed Gustav von Kahr Staatskomissar (state commissioner) with dictatorial governing powers.
Together with Bavarian State Police head Colonel Hans Ritter von Seisser (Seißer), and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow, Kahr formed a triumvirate.
Hitler announced that starting on 27 September 1923, he would be holding 14 mass meetings. One of Kahr’s first actions was to ban the meetings.
Hitler was under pressure to act.
The National Socialists, with other leaders in the ‘Kampfbund’, felt they had to march upon Berlin and seize power or their followers would turn to the Communists.
Hitler and Ludendorff sought the support of Kahr and his triumvirate, however, Kahr had his own plan with Seisser and Lossow to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.

The Putsch

The attempted putsch was inspired by Benito Mussolini’s successful March on Rome.
Hitler and his associates planned to use Munich as a base for a big march against Germany’s Weimar Republic government, but the circumstances were different from those in Italy.
Once Hitler realized that von Kahr either sought to control him or was losing heart (history is unclear), he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Hitler, along with a large detachment of SA, marched on the Bürgerbräukeller, a Munich beer hall where von Kahr was making a speech in front of 3,000 people.

In the cold, dark evening, 600 SA surrounded the beer hall and a machine gun was set up pointing at the auditorium doors.
Hitler, surrounded by his associates Hermann Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, Rudolf Hess, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Ulrich Graf, Johann Aigner, Adolf Lenk, Max Amann, Scheubner-Richter, Wilhelm Adam, and others (some 20 in all), burst through the doors at 8:30 pm and pushed their way laboriously through the crowd.
Hitler fired a shot into the ceiling and jumped on a chair yelling:
The national revolution has broken out! The hall is filled with six hundred men. Nobody is allowed to leave. The Bavarian government and the government at Berlin are deposed. A new government will be formed at once. The barracks of the Reichswehr and those of the police are occupied [this was not in fact the case]. Both have rallied to the swastika.
Hitler, accompanied by Rudolf Hess, Adolf Lenk and Ulrich Graf, forced the triumvirate of von Kahr, von Seisser, and von Lossow into a side room (previously rented by Rudolf Hess) at gunpoint[13] and demanded that they support his putsch, or they would be shot. Hitler thought that he would get an immediate response of affirmation from them, imploring von Kahr to accept a position as Regent of Bavaria.

Gustav Ritter von Kahr

Von Kahr replied that he could not be expected to collaborate, especially as he had been taken out of the auditorium under heavy guard.

During this time, speeches were given in the main hall by Göring, among others, obtaining a temporary calm, while no one was allowed to leave, not even to go to the toilet.
Some, however, escaped via the kitchen, especially those foreign correspondents eager to file copy.

Gustav Ritter von Kahr (November 29, 1862 – June 30, 1934) was a German right-wing conservative politician, active in the state of Bavaria. He was instrumental in the failure of Adolf Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, and was subsequently put to death more than ten years later in the Night of the Long Knives.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff

At the same time, Heinz Pernet, Johann Aigner and Scheubner-Richter were dispatched to pick up Ludendorff, whose personal prestige was being harnessed to give the Nazis credibility.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff  (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany’s effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918. Later, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist, and a promoter of the stab-in-the-back legend.
He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg, who he claimed had taken credit for Ludendorff’s victories against Russia.
From 1924 to 1928 he represented the ‘German Völkisch Freedom Party’ in the Reichstag.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff  (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg.
From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany’s effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.
Later, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist, and a promoter of the stab-in-the-back legend.
He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg, who he claimed had taken credit for Ludendorff’s victories against Russia.
From 1924 to 1928 he represented the ‘German Völkisch Freedom Party’ in the Reichstag.


A telephone call was made from the kitchen by Hermann Kriebel to Ernst Röhm, who was waiting with his Reichskriegsflagge in the Löwenbräukeller, another beer hall, and ordered him to seize key buildings throughout the city. 
At the same time, co-conspirators under Gerhard Rossbach mobilized the students of a nearby Officers Infantry school to seize other objectives.

Hitler became irritated by von Kahr and summoned Ernst Pöhner, Friedrich Weber and Hermann Kriebel to stand in for him while he returned to the auditorium to make a speech (as he had promised some fifteen minutes earlier).

Rudolf Heß

Flanked by Rudolf Heß and Adolf Lenk, Hitler returned to the auditorium to make an extemporaneous speech that changed the mood of the hall almost within seconds.

Dr. Karl Alexander von Mueller, a professor of modern history and political science at the University of Munich and a supporter of von Kahr, was an eyewitness.


Rudolf Walter Richard Heß, (26 April 1894 born in Alexandria, Egypt – 17 August 1987 Spandau Prison, Berlin), was a prominent politician in Nazi Germany. Appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, he served in this position until 1941.


He reported:

‘I cannot remember in my entire life such a change in the attitude of a crowd in a few minutes, almost a few seconds … Hitler had turned them inside out, as one turns a glove inside out, with a few sentences. It had almost something of hocus-pocus, or magic about it.’

Hitler started quietly reminding the audience that his move was not directed against von Kahr and launched into his speech ending with:
Outside are Kahr, Lossow and Seisser. They are struggling hard to reach a decision. May I say to them that you will stand behind them ?
You can see that what motivates us is neither self-conceit or self-interest, but only a burning desire to join the battle in this grave eleventh hour for our German Fatherland … One last thing I can tell you. Either the German revolution begins tonight and the morrow will find us in Germany a true nationalist government, or it will find us dead by dawn !’

Hitler returned to the anteroom, where the triumvirs remained incarcerated, to ear-shattering acclaim which the triumvirs could not have failed to notice.
On his way back, Hitler ordered Göring and Hess to take Eugen von Knilling and seven other members of the Bavarian government into custody.
During Hitler’s speech, Pöhner, Weber, and Kriebel had been trying in a conciliatory fashion to bring the triumvirate round to their point of view.
The atmosphere in the room had become lighter but von Kahr continued to dig in his heels. Ludendorff showed up a little before 9 p.m. and, being shown into the ante-room, concentrated on von Lossow and von Seisser, appealing to their sense of duty.
Eventually the triumvirate reluctantly gave in.
Hitler, Ludendorff et al. moved back into the auditorium, where they gave speeches and shook hands; and then the crowd was allowed to leave.
In a tactical mistake, Hitler decided to leave the Bürgerbräukeller shortly thereafter to deal with a crisis elsewhere.
Around 10:30 p.m., Ludendorff released von Kahr and his associates.
The night was marked by confusion and unrest among government officials, armed forces and police units, and individuals deciding where their loyalties lay.
Units of the ‘Kampfbund’ were scurrying around to arm themselves from secret caches, seizing buildings. At around 3 am, the first casualties of the putsch occurred when the local garrison of the Reichswehr spotted Röhm’s men coming out of the beer hall.
They were ambushed while trying to reach the Reichswehr barracks and had to fall back. In the meantime, the Reichswehr officers put the whole garrison on alert and called for reinforcements.
In a prefiguration of things to come, a list of prominent Jews who might act against the Putsch was made up and squads of SA were sent around to arrest them.
Some were taken into custody while others escaped.
The foreign attachés were also seized in their hotel rooms and put under house arrest.
In the early morning, Hitler ordered the seizure of the Munich city council as hostages.
He further sent the communications officer of the ‘Kampfbund’, Max Neunzert, to enlist the aid of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria to mediate between von Kahr and the putschists. Neunzert failed in the mission.

Himmler During the Munich Putsch

By mid-morning on the 9th, Hitler realized that the putsch was going nowhere.

The Putschists did not know what to do and were about to give up.
At this moment, Ludendorff cried out, “Wir marschieren !” (We will march!), and Röhm’s force together with Hitler’s (a total of approximately 2000 men) marched out – but with no plan of where to go.

See left – Himmler carries the Reichskriegsflagge – but played only a minor part in the Putsch, and was not even arrested.


On the spur of the moment, Ludendorff led them to the Bavarian Defence Ministry, however, at the Odeonsplatz in front of the Feldherrenhalle, they met a force of 100 soldiers blocking the way under the command of State Police Senior Lieutenant Baron Michael von Godin.

Munich Putsch
Munich Putsch

The two groups exchanged fire, killing four state police officers and 16 Nazis.

This was the origin of the ‘Blutfahne’ (blood-flag).
Hitler and Göring were both injured, the latter escaping while the former was captured shortly thereafter.
The putsch forever became a wedge between Hitler and Ludendorff.


Hermann Wilhelm Göring  (12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946), was a German politician, military leader, and leading member of the NSDAP. A veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, he was a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as the “Blue Max”.
He was the last commander of Jagdgeschwader 1, the fighter wing once led by Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron”.
A member of the NSDAP from its early days, Göring was wounded in 1923 during the failed coup known as the Beer Hall Putsch. He became permanently addicted to morphine after being treated with the drug for his injuries. 

Herman Göring

When the skirmish broke out at the Odeonsplatz and Hitler fled, Ludendorff continued to march undaunted into the hostile fire.

To irritations already felt toward Hitler, Ludendorff added a perception that Hitler was a coward. Ludendorff, from then until his death in 1937, refused to have anything positive to do with Hitler. In a description of Ludendorff’s funeral at the Feldherrenhalle in 1937, which Hitler attended, but without speaking, William L. Shirer wrote:
The World War One hero, Ludendorff, had refused to have anything to do with Hitler ever since he had fled from in front of the Feldherrnhalle after the volley of bullets during the Beer Hall Putsch.”
It should be noted however that when a consignment of papers relating to Landsberg prison, including the visitor book, were later sold at auction it was noted that Ludendorff had visited Hitler a number of times.
The case of the resurfacing papers was reported in ‘Der Spiegel’ on 23 June 2006 and somewhat contradicts Shirer’s rather sweeping statement. “

Counterattack

State Police and Police units were first notified of trouble by three police detectives stationed at the Löwenbräukeller.
These reports reached Major Sigmund von Imhoff of the State police.
He immediately called all his green police units and had them seize the central telegraph office and the telephone exchange, although his most important act was to notify Major General Jakob Ritter von Danner, the Reichswehr city commandant of Munich.
As a staunch aristocrat, he loathed the “little corporal” and those “Freikorps bands of rowdies“. He also did not much like his commanding officer, Generalleutnant Otto von Lossow, “a sorry figure of a man“.
He was determined to put down the putsch with or without von Lossow.
Ritter von Danner set up a command post at the 19th Infantry Regiment barracks and alerted all military units.
Meanwhile, Captain Karl Wild, learning of the putsch from marchers, mobilized his command to guard von Kahr’s government building, the Commissariat, with orders to shoot.
Around 11:00 p.m., Ritter von Danner, along with fellow officers General Adolf Ritter von Ruith and General Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein, compelled von Lossow to repudiate the putsch.
There was one member of the cabinet who was not at the Bürgerbräukeller: Franz Matt, the vice-premier and minister of education and culture.
A staunchly conservative Catholic, he was having dinner with the Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, and the Nuncio to Bavaria, Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli (who would later become Pope Pius XII), when he learned of the putsch.
He immediately telephoned von Kahr.
When he found the man vacillating and unsure, Matt decisively began plans to set up a rump government-in-exile in Regensburg and composed a proclamation calling upon all police, armed forces, and civil servants to remain loyal to the government.
The action of these few men spelled doom for the putschists.
On Wednesday, 3,000 students from Munich University rioted and marched to the Feldherrnhalle to lay wreaths. (They continued to riot through Friday until learning of Hitler’s arrest.) Von Kahr and von Lossow were called Judases and traitors.

Key Supporters

Rudolf Heß  Hermann Göring, Erich Ludendorff, Hermann Kriebel, Friedrich Weber, Ernst Röhm, Max Scheubner-Richter, Ulrich Graf, Julius Streicher, Hermann Esser, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Gottfried Feder, Josef Berchtold, Ernst Pöhner, Emil Maurice, Max Amann, Heinz Pernet, Wilhelm Brückner, Lt. Robert Wagner, Adolf Hitler

Other Notable Supporters

Dietrich Eckart
Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler, Edmund Heines, Gerhard Rossbach, Hans Frank, Julius Schaub, Walter Hewel, Dietrich Eckart, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Schreck, Josef ‘Sepp’ Dietrich, Philipp Bouhler, Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, Adolf Lenk, Hans Kallenbach, Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg, Adolf Wagner, Jakob Grimminger, Heinrich Trambauer, Karl Beggel, Rudolf Jung, Rudolf Buttmann, Albrecht von Graefe, Hans Ulrich Klintzsche, Heinrich Hoffmann, Josef Gerum, Capt. Eduard Dietl, Hans Georg Hofmann, Matthaeus Hofmann, Helmut Klotz, Adolf Hühnlein, Max Neunzert, Michael Ried. Karl Fischer von Treuenfeld Theodor Oberländer

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler ( 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was eventually Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a military commander, and a leading member of the NSDAP in the Third Reich.

Dietrich Eckart (23 March 1868 – 26 December 1923) was a German journalist and politician and, with Adolf Hitler, was one of the early key members of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and a participant in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Eckart was described as “a strange genius,” who’s antisemitism arose from a Gnostic, Manichean mysticism, and he spent hours with Hitler discussing art and the place of the Jews in world history. He has been called the spiritual father of National Socialism


At the Front of the March

Alfred Rosenberg
Gottfried Feder

In the vanguard were four flag bearers followed by Adolf Lenk and Kurt Neubauer, Ludendorff’s servant.
Behind those two came more flag bearers, then the leadership in two rows.

Hitler was in the centre, slouch hat in hand, the collar of his trench-coat turned up against the cold.
To his left, in civilian clothes, a green felt hat, and a loose loden coat, was Ludendorff.
To Hitler’s right was Scheubner-Richter.
To his right came Alfred Rosenberg.
On either side of these men were Ulrich Graf, Hermann Kriebel, Friedrich Weber, Julius Streicher, Hermann Göring, and Wilhelm Brückner.
Behind these came the second string of Heinz Pernet, Johann Aigner (Scheubner-Richter’s servant), Gottfried Feder, Theodor von der Pfordten, Wilhelm Kolb, Rolf Reiner, Hans Streck, and Heinrich Bennecke, Brückner’s adjutant.
Behind this row marched the Stosstrupp, the SA, the Infantry School, and the Oberländer.

Alfred Ernst Rosenberg (12 January 1893 – 16 October 1946) was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government. He is considered one of the main authors of key Nazi ideological creeds, including its racial theory, Lebensraum, abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, and opposition to “degenerate” modern art. He is also known for his rejection of Christianity.

Gottfried Feder (27 January 1883 – 24 September 1941) was an economist, and one of the early key members of the NSDAP. He was the party economic theoretician. Initially, it was his lecture in 1919 that drew Hitler into the party.

Trial and Prison

Ernst Hanfstaengl
Völkischer Beobachter

Two days after the putsch, Hitler was arrested and charged with high treason in the special People’s Court.

Some of his fellow conspirators were arrested while others escaped to Austria (Hermann Göring, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Rudolf Hess).
The NSDAP headquarters were raided, and its newspaper, the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’ (The People’s Observer), was banned.
This, however, was not the first time Hitler had been in trouble with the law.

The Völkischer Beobachter (“völkisch Observer”) was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-five years it formed part of the official public face of the party.

Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl (February 2, 1887 – November 6, 1975) was a Harvard-educated German businessman who was an intimate of Adolf Hitler

In an incident in September 1921, he and some SA had disrupted a meeting of the Bayernbund, and the Nazis who had gone there to cause trouble were arrested as a result. Hitler had ended up serving a little over a month of a three-month jail sentence.
Presiding Judge Georg Neithardt was judge in both Hitler cases.

Hitler’s trial began on 26 February 1924 and would last until 1 April 1924.

Hitler moderated his tone for the trial, centering his defense on his selfless devotion to the good of the Volk and the need for bold action to save them, dropping his usual anti-Semitism.
He claimed the putsch had been his sole responsibility and inspiring the title Fuhrer.
Hitler and Hess were both sentenced to five years in ‘Festungshaft’ (literally fortress confinement) for treason.
‘Festungshaft’ was a type of jail that excluded forced labour, featured reasonably comfortable cells, and allowed the prisoner to receive visitors almost daily for many hours.
It was the customary sentence for people whom the judge believed to have had honourable but misguided motives.
However, Hitler used his trial as an opportunity to spread his ideas.
Every word he spoke was reported in the newspaper the next day.

Ernst Röhm

The judges were impressed (Presiding Judge Neithardt was inclined to favouritism towards the defendants prior to the trial), and as a result Hitler only served a little over eight months and was fined 500RM.

Due to his story that he was there by accident, which he had also used in the Kapp Putsch along with his war service and connections, Ludendorff was acquitted.
Both Röhm and Dr. Wilhelm Frick, though found guilty, were released.

Ernst Julius Günther Röhm (28 November 1887 – 2 July 1934) was a German officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early NSDAP leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung (“Storm Battalion”; SA), the Party militia, and later was its commander. In 1934, as part of the Night of the Long Knives, he was executed on Adolf Hitler’s orders as a potential rival.

Göring, meanwhile, suffered bullet wounds in his leg and groin, which led him to become increasingly dependent on morphine and other painkilling drugs.
This addiction continued throughout the war.
Though Hitler failed to achieve his immediate stated goal, the event did give the National Socialists their first exposure to national attention and a propaganda victory.
While serving his prison sentence at Landsberg am Lech, he and Rudolf Hess wrote ‘Mein Kampf‘.
Also, the putsch changed Hitler’s outlook on violent revolution to effect change.
From then on he thought that, in order to win the German heart, he must do everything by the book, strictly legal.
Later on, the German people would call him Hitler Legalité or Hitler the Legal One.
The process of combination, where the conservative-nationalist-monarchist group thought that they could piggyback on to and control the National Socialist movement to garner the seats of power, was to repeat itself 10 years later in 1933 when Franz von Papen would legally ask Hitler to form a government.

Fatalities

Nazis who died in the Putsch

Felix Alfarth
Andreas Bauriedl
Theodor Casella
William Ehrlich
Martin Faust
Anton Hechenberger           
Oskar Körner
Karl Kuhn
Karl Laforce
Kurt Neubauer
Klaus von Pape
Theodor von der Pfordten
Johann Rickmers
Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter
Lorenz Ritter von Stransky
Wilhelm Wolf
Ethan Zemmin
According to Ernst Röhm in his book “Die Geschichte eines Hochverräters” (Franz Eher Verlag, Munich 1928), Martin Faust and Theodor Casella, both members of the armed militia organisation Reichskriegsflagge, were shot down accidentally in a burst of machine gun fire during the occupation of the War Ministry as the result of a misunderstanding with II/Inf.Regt 19.

Bavarian police who died in the Putsch

Friedrich Fink
Nikolaus Hollweg
Max Schobert
Rudolf Schraut



MARTYRDOM

The 16 fallen were regarded as the first “blood martyrs” of the NSDAP and were remembered by Hitler in the foreword of ‘Mein Kampf‘.

Blutfahne
Blutfahne

The swastika flag they carried, which in the course of events had been stained with blood, came to be known as the ‘Blutfahne‘ (blood flag), and was brought out for the swearing-in of new recruits in front of the Feldherrnhalle when Hitler was in power.

Shortly after he came to power, a memorial was placed at the south side of the Feldherrnhalle crowned with an eagle and swastika.
The back of the memorial read ‘Und ihr habt doch gesiegt !‘ (And you triumphed nevertheless!).



 Feldherrnhalle
 Feldherrnhalle

Behind it flowers were laid, and either policemen or the SS stood guard in between a lower plaque.

Passers-by were required to give the Hitler salute.
The putsch was also commemorated on three sets of stamps.
Mein Kampf‘ was dedicated to the fallen and, in the book ‘Ich Kämpfe’ (given to those joining the party circa 1943), they are listed first even though the book lists hundreds of other dead.
The header text in the book read “Obwohl sie tot sind für ihre Taten werden sie auf ewig leben” (Though they are dead for their acts they will live on forever.”)
The army had a division named the Feldherrnhalle regiment, and there was also an SA Feldherrnhalle division.



November 8, Hitler Addressing the ‘Alte Kämpfer

“Die Neunte Elfte” (the “Ninth of the Eleventh”) became one of the most important dates on the Nazi calendar, especially following the seizure of power in 1933.

Annually until the fall of Nazi Germany, the putsch would be commemorated nationwide, with the major events taking place in Munich.
On the night of November 8, Hitler would address the ‘Alte Kämpfer’ (Old Fighters) in the Burgerbraukeller (after 1939, the Löwenbräu, in 1944, the Circus Krone Building), followed the next day by a re-enactment of the march through the streets of Munich.

Alte Kämpfer

The event would climax with a ceremony recalling the 16 dead marchers on the Konigsplatz.

The anniversary could be a time of tension in Nazi Germany.
The ceremony was cancelled in 1934, coming as it did after the so-called ‘Night of the Long Knives’.
In 1938, it coincided with the ‘Kristallnacht’, and in 1939 with the attempted assassination of Hitler by Georg Elser.
With the outbreak of war in 1939, security concerns caused the re-enactment of the march to be “temporarily” suspended, however, Hitler continued to deliver his November 8 speech through 1943.
Every Gau (administrative region of Germany) was also expected to hold a small remembrance ceremony.

Ehrentempel  – Königplatz
Ehrentempel  – Königplatz

As material given to propagandists said, the 16 fallen were the first losses and the ceremony was an occasion to commemorate everyone who had died for the movement.

On 9 November 1935, the dead were taken from their graves and to the Feldherrnhalle.
The SA and SS carried them down to the Königplatz, where two Ehrentempel (Honour Temples) had been constructed.

Ehrentempel  – Königplatz

In each of the structures eight of the martyrs were interred in a sarcophagus bearing their name.


The Königsplatz in Munich, was planned in 1931-32 by Hitler and his architect Paul Ludwig Troost, whom Speer says Hitler regarded as the greatest German architect since Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Troost, who like his successor, Speer, aimed to revive an early classical or Doric architecture, could not have found a more encouraging context for his endeavours than the neo-classical architectural setting of Königsplatz, however the Ehrentempel he designed was not uninfluenced by modernist tendencies, in no respect were his temples conventionally Doric.

Adolf Hitler and Ludwig Troost
Paul Ludwig Troost

Koenigsplatz was labeled the “Forum of the Movement” in reference to the birthplace of the Nazi Party.
Priority was given to the erection of two “martyrs” temples of identical shape named the ‘Ehrentempel’, placed just to either side of the square’s long axis.
In 1935, Hitler said the martyrs’ bodies were not to be buried out of sight in crypts, but should be placed in the open air, to act as eternal sentinels for the German nation.

Ehrentempel  – Königplatz

Troost’s temples in Königsplatz were thus regarded as guard posts, a notion reinforced by the presence of SS sentinels who stood guard at the entrance of each temple. A year earlier Hitler had said that the blood of the martyrs was to be the ‘Taufwasser’ (baptismal water) of the Third Reich.

Paul Ludwig Troost (17 August 1878 – 21 January 1934), born in Elberfeld, was a German architect. An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved Westphalian with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental Jugendstil and advocated a restrained, lean architectural approach, almost devoid of ornament. Troost graduated to a style that combined Spartan traditionalism with elements of modernity.


‘Obwohl sie tot sind für ihre Taten werden sie auf ewig leben’


 Feldherrnhalle

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Berchtesgaden

BERCHTESGADEN
STADTWAPPEN BERCHTESGADEN


Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps



It is located in the south district ofBerchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich.

To the south of the city the Berchtesgaden National Park stretches along three parallel valleys.
Berchtesgaden is often associated with the Mount Watzmann, at 2713 m the third-highest mountain in Germany (after Zugspitze and Hochwanner), which is renowned in the rock climbing community for its Ostwand (East Face), and a deep glacial lake by the name ofKönigssee (5.2 km²).

Another notable peak is the Kehlstein mountain (1835 m) with its Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest * see below), which offers spectacular views to its visitors.
Berchtesgaden’s neighbouring towns are Bischofswiesen, Marktschellenberg, Ramsau and Schönau am Königssee.
The first historical note dates back to 1102 and it mentions the area because of its rich salt deposits.
Much of Berchtesgaden’s wealth has been derived from its salt mines.
The town served as independent Fürstpropstei until the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803.
During the Napoleonic wars, Berchtesgaden changed hands a few times, such as in 1805 under the Treaty of Pressburg, when the area was ceded to Austria.

Berchtesgaden came under Bavarian rule in 1810 and became instantly popular with the Bavarian royal family, which often visited Königssee and maintained a royal hunting residence in the town itself.

Nascent tourism started to evolve and a number of artists came to the area, which reportedly gave rise to “Malereck” (literally painter’s corner) on the shore of Königssee.
The most famous author who lived in Berchtesgaden was Ludwig Ganghofer.

ECKART – HITLER – AND THE OBERSALZBURG


The area of Obersalzberg was purchased by the Nazis in the 1920s for their senior leaders to enjoy.
Hitler’s mountain residence, the Berghof, was located here.
Berchtesgaden and its environs (Stanggass) were fitted to serve as an outpost of the German Reichskanzlei office (Imperial Chancellery).
Some typical Third Reich buildings in Berchtesgaden include the railway station, that had a reception area for Hitler and his guests, and the post office next to the railway station.
The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel was a hotel where famous visitors stayed, such as Eva Braun, Erwin Rommel, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler, as well as Neville Chamberlain and David Lloyd George.

Not long after Hitler siezed the leadership of the party and became it’s Fuhrer, his mentor, Eckart, introduced him to the lovely village of Berchtesgaden that was nestled in the Bavarian Alps.

Located near the Austrian border and only a two hour train ride south-east of Munich, Berchtesgaden was a small farming, mining and resort community.
Since about 1850 the area had been one of the summer stomping grounds for Germany’s royalty and high society.
Since the first world war it had fallen on leaner times.
Under the influence of Eckart, Hitler adapted the custom of spending weekends, holidays, and vacations at the mountain retreat.
Hitler stayed with Eckart in a house, called the Sonnenhauesl, or as Hitler called it, the “Sonnenkopfl,” at Lockstein.
About a year after his introduction to Berchtesgaden, Hitler and a friend made a two mile hike up to Obersalzberg.
Dotted with a few small farms and summer guest-houses, the area offered some of the most spectacular scenic views of the German and Austrian Alps.
Hitler described the region as “a countryside of indescribable
beauty.”

He soon began spending most of his free time there and normally took a room at the Pension Moritz (see right).
A short walk below the Moritz was the Gasthof zum Turken (see left) (named after an innkeeper who fought the Turks) where Hitler and his friends enjoyed the “genuine goulash” and often lingered in one of the small public rooms lost in conversation.
It no doubt impressed Hitler to learn that the Moritz and Turken had once been the meeting places of such dignitaries as Prince-Regent Luitpold of Bavaria, the composer Johannes Brahms and even Crown prince Wilhelm of Prussia.
Having taught Hitler the oratory skills to manipulate an audience through the techniques of hand gestures, voice control and timing, Eckhart now presented his prodigy with a place that would overwhelm him with majestic and inspiring grandeur.
Little wonder that Hitler later said that it was here that he had spent his most pleasant times, and conceived his greatest ideas.
And opposite the Eckart’s Sonnenhauesl (The Little House of the Sun) was the mighty Untersberg (see right) – the massive mountain that dominates the Obersalzburg.
Interetingly, the Untersburg is no ordinary mountain, and one reason Hitler became intrigued by the mountain is because of re-occuring events, legends and tales of people gone missing, people experiencing missing time, encounters with elves and extraterrestrials and passageways to what Hitler called “the inner earth”.
Often noted by occultists as an “energy spot” or “magnetic geo-node,” many seekers came to the Untersberg to be refreshed by the water and drawn to over 400 caves and tunnels by what is described as a “strong magnetic anomaly.”
The Untersberg has been characterized by the Dalai-Lama as the “sleeping dragon,” the “heart-chakra of the world.”
The legends of time portals, missing expeditions, tunnel systems leading to fountains, temples, forests and marble rooms go back hundreds of years.
One of the most persistent rumors involves the legend of Karl the Great (of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation), known in the west as Charles the Great or Charlemagne.
Though physically buried in the German village of Aachen, it is believed that the “astral form” of this emperor sleeps in the mysterious depths of a subterranean throne room, surrounded by his strongest knights, gnomes, frost giants and fire giants, Valkyries and other “Volk,” awaiting the final liberation of his country and kinsmen; that he will rule over a thousand year kingdom of Aryan dominion.

Other accounts maintain this entity is the spirit of the emperor Frederich Barbarossa.
Within the ancient mythologies of the Nordic People are the prophecies that at a future point in time, though time itself is a variable, the “Watcher-god”, Heimdall, will sound his horn to summon the children of Loki (see right).
This semi-divine/human Sixth Race will break their bonds and unite with mystical forces to sail from the land of the Niflheim, located in an astral plane beyond the auroras, waging the final battle with the current “usurpers” of the planet to culminate in the enthronement of their vaticinated king.
It is this anticipated kingdom and its preparation that has been the goal of the ancient spirits. This is the heart of ‘The Awakening of the Black Sun’.
The Untersberg is known to be inhabited by certain kinds of elemental spirits of Nature, some of which are good and benevolent, others of a wicked and malicious nature, and inimical to mankind; and there are innumerable tales circulating among the people in the neighborhood, telling about the doings of the gnomes, fairies, and giants, dwelling within caves and in gorgeous marble halls and grottoes filled with gold and precious stones that will turn into dead leaves and stones when seen in the light of day.
“Some of the friendly tribes come out of the Untersberg on certain occasions, and they are said to have sometimes associated with the inhabitants of our plane of existence, partaking in the dances and amusements of the peasants, and even taking stray children with them into the Untersberg; and, incredible as it may appear, it is even asserted by, “those who know” that marriages have taken place between citizens of our world and the inhabitants of the kingdom of gnomes.
Of course it is well known that within the mysterious depths of the Untersberg there dwells the soul of a great emperor in his astral form.
There, together with his retinue, he sleeps an enchanted sleep, waiting for the liberation of his country.
Sometimes very suddenly, even on a clear summer day, clouds are seen to issue from the sides of the mountain; grotesquely-formed ghost-like mists arise from the caverns and precipices, crawling and gliding slowly upwards toward the top, and form on the neighboring peaks also, clouds of monstrous shapes and sometimes of gigantic proportions floating on, until the head of the Untersberg is surrounded by a surging sea of vapours growing dense and dark.
Seldom included in historical analysis of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler, is the spiritually mesmerizing impact of Mount Untersberg.
Hitler’s first direct encounter took place in 1923, upon which date the future führer would describe his feelings, “It was so wonderful! A view of the Untersberg! Indescribable!”
While not specifically recorded, it is unlikely that the youthful Hitler would have been unaware of the writings of Franz Hartmann.
His obsession with occultism and theosophy, now well documented, would explain the peculiar fascination with the “sleeping dragon” as described by the Dalai Lama.
Having rented Haus Wachenfeld, a small vacation villa across the valley from Mount Untersberg, for four years, it was in 1932, with proceeds earned from royalties from Mein Kampf, that Adolf Hitler purchased what would become the Berghof.

A major renovation of the house soon followed, including a series of extensions, a bowling alley, a library and a basement.
(see Grundstein – Foundation Stone of 1936 – left – with Thule Swastikas)
Most importantly, however, was the construction of a huge picture window, providing a completely open view of the Untersberg.
Hitler was deeply affected by the legend and remarked to Albert Speer, his architect and armaments minister:
Look at the Untersberg over there.It is not just by chance that I have my seat across from it.
In February of 1942, the Fuhrer commented to Heinrich Himmler, “Charlemagne was the one of the greatest men to ever live.”
It may well have been that Adolf Hitler had hoped to see some type of manifestation: his telescopes were specifically designed for earth observation.
Those were the best times of my life,” he would later say. “My great plans were forged there.”
So magnetic was the mountain that the Führer later explained,
I basically built the house around the window,” and he even named the structure Berghof: “The Mountain Court.”
The Berghof has been described as a “Bavarian country house guarded by 2,000 SS troops,” with Adolf Hitler gazing from a “gigantic window… across a valley to the Untersberg massif, a sheer wall of mountain that looms large in Teutonic myths.”
For almost a decade Obersalzburg had become the Holy Mountain of the Third Reich, drawing thousands of pilgrims to pay homage to their Führer.
On February 2, 1942, Hitler said that his residence in Obersalzberg – Berghof, was “Gralsburg”. This indicates a certain connection to the Holy Grail and the Templars.
Just a few days before the end of war some local people reported seeing strange SS convoys that headed toward the Zillertal Alps (a mountain range on the Austrian-Italian border) where they, on their way to the Schleigeiss Glacier, allegedly buried some boxes deep in ice somewhere near a precipice.
Some esoteric authors write that the Holy Grail is here.

     

A recent expedition (August 2008) into the gigantic cave-system under the mountain revealed that it goes down so far, that its lowest point had not been reached yet.The cave explorers had to return from their expedition without knowing how far down it goes.According to a German newspaper report they had gone down 1056 meters before being forced to return at an abyss-like precipce.This had been accomplished by being able to pass an extremely narrow passageway that had been previously unpassable.They also discovered more than 800 new passageways and a lake in 930 meters depth.
Initially Hitler rented a chalet called Haus Wachenfeld – a holiday home built in 1916 by Otto Winter, a businessman from Buxtehude.

Winter’s widow rented the house to Hitler in 1928, and his half-sister Angela (see right) came to live there as housekeeper, although she left soon after her daughter Geli’s 1931 death in Hitler’s Munich apartment.
By 1933 Hitler had purchased Haus Wachenfeld with funds he received from the sale of his political manifesto Mein Kampf.
The small chalet-style building was refurbished and much expanded during 1935-36 when it was re-named The Berghof.
A large terrace was built, a dining room was panelled with very costly cembra pine.
Hitler’s large study had a telephone switchboard room.
The library contained books “on history, painting, architecture and music.”

A great hall was furnished with expensive ‘Nordic’ style furniture, a large globe and an expansive red marble fireplace mantel.
Behind one wall was a projection booth for evening screenings of films.
A sprawling picture window (see right) could be lowered into the wall to give a sweeping, open air view of -the Untersberg. – And on the terrace Hitler installed the finest, very large terrestial telescopes (see left) so that he could observe the mysterious Untersberg in detail.
In his own memoirs, Nazi Germany’s court architect and minister of armaments, Albert Speer, recalled his evening at Hitler’s retreat in the Alps above Berchtesgaden, right after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact that — with its secret clause giving the Soviet Union part of Poland — opened the way to the Nazi invasion that triggered World War Two.
Speer wrote :

In the course of the night we stood on the terrace of the Berghof with Hitler and marveled at a rare natural spectacle. Northern lights of unusual intensity threw red light on the legend-haunted Untersberg across the valley, while the sky above shimmered in all the colours of the rainbow. The last act of the Götterdämmerung could not have been more effectively staged. The same red light bathed our faces and our hands. The display produced a curiously pensive mood among us. Abruptly turning to one of his military adjutants, Hitler said: ‘Looks like a great deal of blood. This time we won’t bring it off without violence.’” 



HITLER’S  BERGHOF





Haus Wachenfeld – Later known as the Berghof 





Haus Wachenfeld – Terrace






Haus Wachenfeld – Terrace 






Haus Wachenfeld 





Haus Wachenfeld and the Untersberg







Haus Wachenfeld – the Telescope






The Berghof – Final Form 









Berghof – Terrace




Berghof – Salon








Berghof – The Picture Window









Berghof – Sitting Area








Berghof – Living Room




Berghof – Study




Berghof – Salon




Berghof – Dining Room










Berghof – Dining Room








Berghof – Dining Room




Portrait of Adolf Hitler in Eva Braun’s Bedroom








 KEHLSTEINHAUS
 *(Adlerhorst – The Eagle’s Nest)

The Kehlsteinhaus – ‘Adlerhorst’ (the Eagle’s Nest) is a chalet-style structure erected on a subpeak of the Hoher Göll known as the Kehlstein.
It was built as an extension of the Obersalzberg complex erected in the mountains above Berchtesgaden.
The Kehlsteinhaus was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler to serve as a retreat for Hitler and place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries.
The Kehlsteinhaus was commissioned by Martin Bormann, with construction proceeding over a 13-month period.

It was completed in the summer of 1938, prior to its formal presentation to Hitler on his 50th birthday on April 20, 1939.
It is situated on a ridge at the top of the Kehlstein mountain 1,834 m (6,017 ft), reached by a 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long and 4 m (13 ft) wide road that cost 30 million RMs to build (about 150 million euros in 2007, adjusted in line with inflation).
It includes five tunnels but only one hairpin turn and climbs 800 m (2,600 ft).

The last 124 m (407 ft)[1] up to the Kehlsteinhaus are reached by an elevator bored straight down through the mountain and linked via a tunnel through the granite below that is 124 m (407 ft) long.

The inside of the large elevator car is surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors and green leather.
The main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble, presented by Mussolini.
Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László.
A significant event held at the Kehlsteinhaus was the wedding reception that followed the marriage of Eva Braun’s sister Gretl to Hermann Fegelein on June 3, 1944.
The building is often mistakenly referred to as a “tea house”, a corruption of its abbreviated name, “D-Haus”, short for “Diplomatic Reception Haus”.
As a result it is frequently confused with the actual tea house at Hitler’s Berghof, the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus he visited daily after lunch.
Although the site is on the same mountain as the Berghof, Hitler rarely visited the property.

It has been suggested he only visited the Kehlsteinhaus around 10 times, and most times for no more than 30 minutes, however he did receive André François-Poncet (the departing French ambassador to Germany) there on October 18, 1938.
As a result of the lack of close association with Hitler the property was saved from demolition at the end of the war.
A trail leads above the Kehlsteinhaus towards the Mannlgrat ridge reaching from the Kehlstein to the summit of the Hoher Goll.
The route, which is served by a Klettersteig, is regarded as the easiest to the top.


click here for more information about ‘Hitler and the Third Reich

Ludwig II Konig von Bayern

the best site for King Ludwig II of Bavaria – the ‘Swan King’
The Arms of the House of Wittlesbach
King of Bavaria was a title held by the hereditary Wittelsbach rulers of Bavaria in the state known as the Kingdom of Bavaria from 1805 until 1918, when the kingdom was abolished.
It was the second kingdom, almost a thousand years after the short-lived Carolingian kingdom of Bavaria.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Pressburg concluded December 26, 1805 between Napoleonic France and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, several principalities allied to Napoleon were elevated to kingdoms.
One of the staunchest of these had been the prince-elector of Bavaria, Maximilian IV Joseph, and on January 1, 1806, he formally assumed the title King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria.
He was a member of the Wittelsbach branch Palatinate-Birkenfeld-Zweibrücken.
On 26 May 1818, the constitution of the Kingdom of Bavaria was proclaimed.

The parliament would have two houses, an upper house comprising the aristocracy and noblemen, including the high-class hereditary landowners, government officials and nominees of the crown.
The second house, a lower house, would include representatives of small landowners, the towns and the peasants.
The rights of Protestants were safeguarded in the constitution with articles supporting the equality of all religions, despite opposition by supporters of the Roman Catholic Church.
The initial constitution almost proved disastrous for the monarchy, with controversies such as the army having to swear allegiance to the new constitution.
The monarchy appealed to the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire for advice, the two refused to take action on Bavaria’s behalf, but the debacles lessened and the state stabilized with the accession of Ludwig I to the throne following the death of Maximilian in 1825.

In 1864, Maximilian II died early, and his eighteen year-old son, Ludwig II (see left), arguably the most famous of the Bavarian kings, became King of Bavaria as escalating tensions between Austria and Prussia grew steadily. Prussia’s Minister-President Otto von Bismarck (see right), recognizing the immediate likelihood of war, attempted to sway Bavaria towards neutrality in the conflict. Ludwig II refused Bismarck’s offers and continued Bavaria’s alliance with Austria.
In 1866, violence erupted between Austria and Prussia and the Austro-Prussian War began. Bavaria and most of the south German states, with the exception of Austria and Saxony, contributed far less to the war effort against Prussia.
Austria quickly faltered after its defeat at the Battle of Königgrätz and was totally defeated shortly afterward.
Austria was humiliated by defeat and was forced to concede control, and its sphere of influence, over the south German states.
Bavaria was spared harsh terms in the peace settlement, however from this point on it and the other south German states steadily progressed into Prussia’s sphere of influence.
With Austria’s defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the northern German states quickly unified into the North German Confederation, with Prussia’s King leading the state.
Bavaria’s previous inhibitions towards Prussia changed, along with those of many of the south German states, after French emperor Napoleon III began speaking of France’s need for “compensation” from its loss in 1814 and included Bavarian-held Palatinate as part of its territorial claims.
Ludwig II joined an alliance with Prussia, in 1870, against France, which was seen by Germans as the greatest enemy to a united Germany.
At the same time, Bavaria increased its political, legal, and trade ties with the North German Confederation. In 1870, war erupted between France and Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War.
The Bavarian Army was sent under the command of the Prussian crown prince against the French army.
With France’s defeat and humiliation against the combined German forces, it was Ludwig II who proposed that Prussian King Wilhelm I be proclaimed German Emperor or “Kaiser” of the German Empire (“Deutsches Reich”), which occurred in 1871 in German occupied Versailles, France.
The territories of the German Empire were declared, which included the states of the North German Confederation and all of the south German states, with the major exception of Austria. The Empire also annexed the formerly French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, due in large part to Ludwig’s desire to move the French frontier away from the Palatinate.
Bavaria’s entry into the German Empire changed, from jubilation over France’s defeat, to dismay shortly afterward, over the direction of Germany under the new German Chancellor and Prussian Prime Minister, Otto von Bismarck.
The Bavarian delegation under Count Otto von Bray-Steinburg had secured a privileged status of the Kingdom of Bavaria within the German Empire (Reservatrechte).
Within the Empire the Kingdom of Bavaria was even able to retain its own diplomatic body and its own army, which would fall under Prussian command only in times of war.
But the persecution of the Catholic Church in Bismarck’s Kulturkampf frustrated the predominantly Catholic southern German states, including Bavaria, although Bismarck was eventually compelled to moderate his policies.
After Bavaria’s unification into Germany, Ludwig II became increasingly detached from Bavaria’s political affairs and spent vast amounts of money on personal projects, such as the construction of a number of fairytale-like castles and palaces, the most famous being the Wagnerian-style Castle Neuschwanstein (see left and below).
Although Ludwig used his personal wealth to finance these projects instead of state funds, the construction projects landed him deeply in debt.
These debts caused much concern among Bavaria’s political elite, who sought to persuade Ludwig to cease his building; he refused, and relations between the government’s ministers and the crown deteriorated.
At last, in 1886, the crisis came to a head: the Bavarian ministers deposed the king, organizing a medical commission to declare him insane, and therefore incapable of executing his governmental powers.
A day after Ludwig’s deposition, the king died mysteriously after asking the commission’s chief psychiatrist to go on a walk with him along Lake Starnberg (then called Lake Würm).
Ludwig and the psychiatrist were found dead, floating in the lake.
An autopsy listed cause of death as suicide by drowning, but some sources claim that no water was found in Ludwig’s lungs.
These facts have led to many conspiracy theories of political assassination.

The crown passed to Ludwig’s brother Otto I, but since Otto had a clear history of mental illness, the duties of the throne actually rested in the hands of the brothers’ uncle, Prince Luitpold, serving as regent.
During the regency of Prince-Regent Luitpold, from 1886 to 1913, relations between Bavarians and Prussians remained cold, with Bavarians remembering the anti-Catholic agenda of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, as well as Prussia’s strategic dominance over the empire.

Bavaria protested Prussian dominance over Germany and snubbed the Prussian-born German Emperor, Wilhelm II, in 1900, by forbidding the flying of any other flag other than the Bavarian flag on public buildings for the Emperor’s Birthday, but this was swiftly modified afterwards, allowing the German imperial flag to be hung side by side with the Bavarian flag.
In 1912, Luitpold died, and his son, Prince-Regent Ludwig, took over as regent of Bavaria.
A year later, the regency ended when Ludwig declared himself King of Bavaria and from that point on was known as Ludwig III.

In 1914, a clash of alliances occurred over Austria-Hungary’s invasion of Serbia following the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb militant.
Germany went to the side of its former rival-turned-ally, Austria-Hungary, while France, Russia, and the United Kingdom declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany.
Initially, in Bavaria and all across Germany, recruits flocked enthusiastically to the German Army. At the outbreak of World War I King Ludwig III sent an official dispatch to Berlin to express Bavaria’s solidarity.
Later Ludwig even claimed annexations for Bavaria (Alsace and the city of Antwerp in Belgium, to receive an access to the sea).
His hidden agenda was to maintain the balance of power between Prussia and Bavaria within the German Empire after a victory.
Over time, with a stalemated and bloody war on the western front, Bavarians, like many Germans, grew weary of a continuing war.
In 1917, when Germany’s situation had gradually worsened due to World War I, the Bavarian Prime Minister Georg von Hertling became German Chancellor and Prime Minister of Prussia and Otto Ritter von Dandl was made new Prime Minister of Bavaria.
Accused of showing blind loyalty to Prussia, Ludwig III became increasingly unpopular during the war.
In 1918, the kingdom attempted to negotiate a separate peace with the allies but failed.

By 1918, civil unrest was spreading across Bavaria and Germany; Bavarian defiance to Prussian hegemony and Bavarian separatism being key motivators.
In November 1918, William II abdicated the throne of Germany, and Ludwig III, along with the other German monarchs, issuing the Anif declaration, followed in abdication shortly afterwards. With this, the Wittelsbach dynasty came to an end, and the former Kingdom of Bavaria became the Free State of Bavaria.
Kings of Bavaria

Maximilian I Joseph 1805–1825

Ludwig I 1825–1848 (d.1868)

Maximilian II 1848–1864

Ludwig II 1864–1886

Otto 1886–1913 (d.1916)

Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, Regent 1886–1912

Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, Regent 1912–1913

Ludwig III 1913–1918

König Ludwig von Bayern 
Ludwig II (Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm; sometimes rendered as Louis II in English) (25 August 1845 – 13 June 1886) was King of Bavaria from 1864 until shortly before his death.
He is sometimes called the Swan King (English) and der Märchenkönig, the Fairy tale King, (German).
Additional titles were Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, Franconia and in Swabia.
Ludwig is sometimes also called “Mad King Ludwig”, though the accuracy of that label has been disputed. Because Ludwig was deposed on grounds of mental illness without any medical examination and died a day later under mysterious circumstances, questions about the medical “diagnosis” remain controversial.
One of his most quoted sayings was “I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others.”
Ludwig is best known as an eccentric whose legacy is intertwined with the history of art and architecture. He commissioned the construction of several extravagant fantasy castles and palaces, the most famous being Neuschwanstein, and was a devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner. Since his legacy of grandiose castles lives on in the form of massive tourist revenue, King Ludwig is generally well liked and even revered by many in Bavaria today.
Ludwig II. Otto Friedrich Wilhelm von Bayern (* 25. August 1845 auf Schloss Nymphenburg, München; † 13. Juni 1886 im Würmsee, dem heutigen Starnberger See, bei Schloss Berg), aus dem deutschen Fürstenhaus Wittelsbach stammend, war vom 10. März 1864 an bis zu seinem Tod König von Bayern. Nach seiner Entmündigung am 10. Juni 1886 übernahm sein Onkel Luitpold als Prinzregent die Regierungsgeschäfte. Ludwig II. hat sich in der bayerischen Geschichte vor allem als leidenschaftlicher Schlossbauherr, unter anderem von Neuschwanstein, ein Denkmal gesetzt, weshalb er volkstümlich auch als Märchenkönig bezeichnet wird.
T H E   F A M I L Y
Ludwig’s father – Ludwig I
Ludwig (left) with his parents & brother Otto
Born in Nymphenburg Palace (today located in suburban Munich), he was the eldest son ofMaximilian II of Bavaria (then Crown Prince) and his wife Princess Marie of Prussia.
His parents intended to name him Otto, but his grandfather,Ludwig I of Bavaria, insisted his grandson was to be named after him, since their common birthday, 25 August, is the feast day of Saint Louis, patron saint of Bavaria.
A younger brother, born three years later, was named Otto.
Like many young heirs in an age when Kings governed most of Europe, Ludwig was continually reminded of his royal status.
King Maximilian wanted to instruct both of his sons in the burdens of royal duty from an early age.
Ludwig was both extremely indulged and severely controlled by his tutors and subjected to a strict regimen of study and exercise.
There are some who point to these stresses of growing up in a royal family as the causes for much of his odd behavior as an adult.
Ludwig was not close with either of his parents.
King Maximilian’s advisers had suggested that on his daily walks he might like, at times, to be accompanied by his future successor.
The King replied, “But what am I to say to him? After all, my son takes no interest in what other people tell him.”
Later, Ludwig would refer to his mother as “my predecessor’s consort”.
 Marie Friederike Franziska Hedwig von Preußen
Königin von Bayern

Ludwig’s mother was  (so it’s interesting that he so quickly submitted to Prussia’s military will; see post below). She married Ludwig’s father, Maximilian II, at 17 (he was twice her age), and gave birth to Ludwig at 19; she was also her husband’s cousin. Marie was considered a socially engaged monarch, and was well-liked by Bavaria’s Catholics, even though she herself was an Evangelical Protestant (not quite like today’s evangelicals, however; those of Marie’s day were dedicated to personal salvation and piety, and such social causes as temperance and abolitionism). While no intellectual – she once wondered aloud why anyone would spend time reading – Marie nevertheless revived the dormant Bavarian Women’s Association, a service organization which eventually was taken over by the Red Cross. She had the reputation of being a well-meaning, but distant, mother – by most accounts, Ludwig found what motherly affection he came by from his governess (not dramatized in Valhalla), Sybille Meilhaus. Meanwhile Ludwig’s father doted on his brother Otto, who was considered a far happier child than Ludwig, who even as a boy was perceived as inclined to romantic melancholy. To “correct” this tendency, his governess was replaced by a strict military tutor when Ludwig was nine (tellingly, he remained in touch with her for the rest of his life). After Maximilian’s death, Marie converted to Catholicism, at first living with Ludwig in the castle her husband had built for them. But as Ludwig grew more eccentric, she slowly withdrew, spending more and more of her time at her own estate in the Alps. She outlived Ludwig by three years.

He was far closer to his grandfather, the deposed and notorious King Ludwig I, who came from a family of eccentrics.
Ludwig’s childhood years did have happy moments.
He lived for much of the time at Castle Hohenschwangau, a fantasy castle his father had built near the Schwansee (Swan Lake) near Füssen.
It was decorated in the Gothic style with countless frescoes depicting heroic German sagas.
The family also visited Lake Starnberg.
Teenaged Ludwig became best friends with (and possibly the lover of) his aide-de-camp, the handsome aristocrat and sometime actor Paul Maximilian Lamoral, a scion of the wealthy Thurn and Taxis dynasty.
The two young men rode together, read poetry aloud, and staged excerpts from the operas of their idol, Richard Wagner.
Their relationship lapsed when Paul became engaged in 1866.
During his youth Ludwig also initiated a lifelong friendship with his half-first cousin once removed, Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria, later Empress of Austria.
They loved nature and poetry; Elisabeth called Ludwig “Eagle” and he called her “Dove.”
Young Ludwig in Uniform

Ludwig’s brother – Prince Otto
Prince Otto served in the Bavarian army from 1863.
When King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles, Prince Otto represented his brother who refused to participate.
Otto then criticized the celebration as ostentatious and heartless in a letter to Ludwig.
It is claimed Otto suffered from severe mental illness.
He was declared insane in 1875.
The cause of his illness has not been revealed.
He was kept confined in Fürstenried Palace under medical supervision from 1875 until his death.
Otto became King of Bavaria upon his older brother’s deposition and unexplained death in 1886.
However, Otto never truly ruled as King and was by some accounts not even aware that he had become King.
Otto’s uncle, Prince Luitpold, served as Prince Regent for Otto until Luitpold’s death. Luitpold’s son Ludwig then became the next Prince Regent.
The constitution of Bavaria was amended on 4 November 1913, to include a clause specifying that if a regency for reasons of incapacity lasted for ten years with no expectation that the King would ever be able to reign, the Regent could proclaim the end of the regency and assume the crown himself.
The following day, Otto was deposed by his cousin, Prince Regent Ludwig, who then assumed the title Ludwig III.
The parliament assented on 6 November, and Ludwig III took the constitutional oath on 8 November. Otto was permitted to retain his title and honours until his death in 1916.
In this time Bavaria had “two kings”.
Otto’s remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich.
Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Miraculous Image) in Altötting, beside those of his brother, father and grandfather.
Portrait of König Ludwig II 

König Ludwig II 

König Ludwig II von Bayern – Portrait
König Ludwig II – right
Prince Otto of Bavaria – standing – Prince Wilhelm of Hesse – left
(1863 Munich)
König Ludwig II and Duchess Sophie in Bavaria
Ludwig became engaged to Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, his cousin and the youngest sister of his dear friend, Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
The engagement was publicized on 22 January 1867, but after repeatedly postponing the wedding date, Ludwig finally cancelled the engagement in October.
A few days before the engagement had been announced, Sophie had received a letter from the King telling her what she already knew: “The main substance of our relationship has always been … Richard Wagner’s remarkable and deeply moving destiny.”
After the engagement was broken off, Ludwig wrote to his former fiancee, “My beloved Elsa! Your cruel father has torn us apart. Eternally yours, Heinrich” (the names Elsa and Heinrich came from characters from Wagner operas).
Ludwig never married, but Sophie later married Ferdinand d’Orléans, duc d’Alençon (1844–1910).
Ludwig and Josef Kainz
Throughout his reign, Ludwig had a succession of close friendships with men, including his chief equerry and Master of the Horse, Richard Hornig (1843–1911), Hungarian theatre actor Josef Kainz, courtier Alfons Weber (born c.1862) and Richard Wagner.
He began keeping a diary in which he recorded his private thoughts and his attempts to suppress his sexual desires and remain true to his Roman Catholic faith.
Ludwig’s original diaries from 1869 were lost during World War II, and all that remains today are copies of entries during the 1886 plot to depose him.
These transcribed diary entries, along with private letters and other surviving personal documents, suggest that Ludwig was homosexual and struggled with his orientation throughout his life.
Homosexuality had not been punishable in Bavaria since 1813.
Some earlier diaries have survived in the Geheimes Hausarchiv in Munich and extracts starting in 1858 were published by Evers in 1986.
Josef Kainz
Josef Gottfried Ignaz Kainz (2 January 1858 – 20 September 1910) was an Austrian actor of Hungarian birth. He was highly active in theatres in Austria and Germany from 1873–1910.
Revered as one of the greatest actors of the German-speaking theatre, the city of Vienna annually bestowed a theatre award for outstanding acting performance named after him, the Kainz Medal, from 1958 to 1999 (replaced by the Nestroy Award in 2000).
From 1880 he worked with Ernst von Possart at the National Theatre Munich and became one of the favourite actors of King Ludwig II of Bavaria appearing in private performance exclusively for the monarch’s delight. 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
LUDWIG II and RICHARD WAGNER

Richard Wagner’s great opera cycles might not exist were it not for the support of his patron Ludwig II, King of Bavaria (1845–86).

By 1864 Wagner’s life was at its lowest point,his marriage was over, many operas were unproduceable by musicians, and he was in heavy debts.
Wagner was almost suicidal with despair when on 3 May 1864, he received a card from Herr Pflstermeister, secretary to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, requesting to see him.

Franz Seraph von Pfistermeister 

Franz Seraph von Pfistermeister (14 December 1820 – 2 March 1912), was the court secretary and State Council of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Pfistermeister entered history not only as a politician, but also musically when in his first official administrative function he was ordered by King Ludwig II to find the composer Richard Wagner and bring him to Munich. Franz Seraph Freiherr von Pfistermeister was born on 14 December 1820 in Amberg, Germany. After attending the gymnasium in Amberg, Franz Pfistermeister began his career in the Royal Bavarian governmental service as military fiscal adjunct. In 1849 he was appointed to the Court Office in Munich, and by the year 1866 he then began working as Cabinet Secretary to Kings Maximilian II and Ludwig II.
Because of his opposition to Richard Wagner, and his costly promotion by King Ludwig II in 1866, his dismissal from the 1866 service was “the highest immediate service”. From 1864 to 1895 he served as State Council of the Kingdom of Bavaria. He died on the 2 March 1912 in his home on Knöbelstraße, Munich, where he lived from 1881

Not seeing any point to the visit, Wagner refused but Herr Pfistermeister persisted, and when Wagner eventually agreed to meet, he realised that his salvation was at hand – King Ludwig II had decided to pay all the debts of Wagner, and also finance his Operas.
The young, handsome King Ludwig was truly besotted with Wagner’s music and wanted to become his patron.
He offered to take all the financial burden away from Wagner leaving him free to create his art in an ideal atmosphere.
To this end, King Ludwig installed Wagner in a beautiful villa close to the royal castle of Hohenschwangau.

It was on May 5 1864 the monarch and the composer met for the first time.
After their first meeting in May 1864, King Ludwig wrote to Richard Wagner: 
Be assured that I will do everything in my power to make up for your suffering of the past.”
At the time Richard Wagner is in deep financial troubles, he is sickly and homeless. The king is his salvation.

Tristan und Isolde

After his audience with King Ludwig II. Wagner wrote: 
“…he loves me with the sincerity and glow of a first love… I am to complete the Nibelungen….he will give me everything necessary for me to perform my works. I shall be relieved of all problems. Can that be anything but a dream ?” 
The composer’s debts are paid, he receives the impressive salary of 4000 guilders and is able to move into a large house in Munich.Preparations begin for the performance of “Tristan und Isolde”.

More than 20 rehearsals place.
Stage scenery and costumes swallow up large amounts of money.
Following several postponements the day of the premiere the king had waited for so long finally arrived on June 10 1865.
The king was received with loud cheers and fanfare in the royal Court Theater.
The public broke out into enormous storms of applause, and the opera is a great triumph for Wager as well as for Ludwig.

Ludwig’s enormous fairy-tale castles, Teutonic, neo-gothic and oriental versions of Versailles which virtually bankrupted the country, were the grand opera sets made flesh.
He endeavoured to be an absolute monarch at the dawn of the modern republican world, when such goals were impossible.
But having failed in the political and domestic realm, he made his dream reality in art and music.
No expense was spared for the staging of Wagner’s operas, which were often performed with Ludwig the sole member of the audience, and in return Wagner gave him his genius and his love.
Wagner acknowledged that :
Without him I am as nothing ! Even in loving him he was my first teacher. O my King ! You are divine! 
They exchanged some 600 letters, and it is hard to say who was more enthusiastic, at least in the beginning.
Wagner: “What bliss enfolds me! A wonderful dream has become a reality! . . . I am in the Gralsburg, in Parsifal’s sublime and loving care. . . . I am in your angelic arms! We are near to one another.” Or Ludwig: “My only beloved Friend! My saviour! My god! . . . Ah, now I am happy, for I know that my Only One draws near. Stay, oh stay! adored one for whom alone I live, with whom I die.”
Their relationship was almost certainly physical, though not necessarily “genital.”
Wagner at one time held homoerotic ideals, and in ‘Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft’ (The Art-work of the Future), comments on the love of comrades in Sparta :
“This beauteous naked man is the kernel of all Spartanhood; from genuine delight in the beauty of the most perfect human body – that of the male – arose that spirit of comradeship which pervades and shapes the whole economy of the Spartan State. This love of man to man, in its primitive purity, proclaims itself as the noblest and least selfish utterance of man’s sense of beauty, for it teaches man to sink and merge his entire self in the object of his affection. . . . The higher element of that love of man to man . . . not only included a purely spiritual bond of friendship, but this spiritual friendship was the blossom and the crown of the physical friendship. The latter sprang directly from delight in the beauty, aye in the material bodily beauty of the beloved comrade.”
Ludwig refused to get married, even for state reasons, and wanted to give up the throne to live with and for Wagner, but it was not to be, for Wagner loved women as well as music and power.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013




LUDWIG’S DOWNFALL

Why, after years of eccentric behavior, was Ludwig finally declared insane and deposed by his Cabinet? The reasons were probably financial in nature.
While Ludwig paid for his palaces out of his own resources, his relentless building program had dragged him deeper and deeper into debt, and the scandal of royal bankruptcy had begun to loom.
In 1884 a loan had to be secured from the Bavarian State Bank to continue the work on Neuschwanstein, but rather than economize as a result, Ludwig only planned even grander projects – he had the site cleared for Castle Falkenstein, and announced Byzantine and Chinese palaces would soon follow.
When Ludwig turned to his Cabinet for a second loan, however, they refused; the king responded by sending servants out to other monarchs to beg for funds, and gossip arose that he was seeking men for a crazed plan to break into banks in Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris.
By 1886, it was rumored Ludwig had even begun seeking new ministers for his Cabinet, and the ruling clique decided it had to act.

The Cabinet settled on a plan to depose Ludwig for constitutional reasons (rather than through a coup d’etat), by removing him due to his unfitness to govern, by reason of insanity. One problem with this plan was that Ludwig’s brother Otto, next in line to the throne, was clearly incurably mad, and had been institutionalized since 1872. Ludwig’s uncle, Prince Luitpold, however, agreed to act as Regent, but only on the condition that he was convinced Ludwig was truly unfit to govern. Thus a team of four eminent psychiatrists, headed by Dr Berhard von Gudden – the leading German psychiatrist of the day – was chartered to compile an official report on Ludwig, and Count von Holnstein, Ludwig’s Master the Horse, set about collecting stories and gossip about the king.
There was no shortage of lurid rumors.
Ludwig’s public appearances were bizarre enough – he often chattered to himself, pulling his beard, and was so shy on state occasions that he sometimes hid behind screens of flowers. The king was also known to repeatedly hug various pillars and architectural features of his castles, and enjoyed dressing up as Lohengrin and other medieval heroes.

Otto Eduard Leopold
Fürst von Bismarck

But servants also told tales of beatings, children’s games, and stable-boys dancing naked before the king in the moonlight.
The report convinced Prince Luitpold, and a mission was sent to Neuschwanstein to arrest the king.
Appropriately enough, the mission ended in a debacle – alerted to its approach, peasants loyal to Ludwig swarmed the castle, and a baroness in love with the king caused a scene by brandishing her parasol menacingly at the gate.
Loyalists tried to persuade Ludwig to flee over the Alps, but he refused; the king then attempted to issue a proclamation protesting the mission, but it was suppressed by the government.
From Berlin, Bismarck – who was only partly sympathetic to the Cabinet – advised Ludwig that to hold onto the throne, he must show himself to the people, but the neurotic Ludwig refused this course of action, too.

Schloß Berg – Starnberg See
The Arrest of Ludwig

At 4 a.m. on 10 June 1886, a government commission including Holnstein and von Gudden arrived at Neuschwanstein to formally deliver the document of deposition to the king and place him in custody. 
Tipped off an hour or two earlier by a faithful servant, his coachman Fritz Osterholzer, Ludwig ordered the local police to protect him, and the commissioners were turned back at the castle gate at gun-point. 
That same day, the Government publicly proclaimed Luitpold as Prince Regent.
The king’s friends and allies urged him to flee, or to show himself in Munich and thus regain the support of the people.
Ludwig hesitated, instead issuing a statement, allegedly drafted by his aide-de-camp Count Alfred Dürckheim, which was published by a Bamberg newspaper on 11 June:
‘The Prince Luitpold intends, against my will, to ascend to the Regency of my land, and my erstwhile ministry has, through false allegations regarding the state of my health, deceived my beloved people, and is preparing to commit acts of high treason. I call upon every loyal Bavarian to rally around my loyal supporters to thwart the planned treason against the King and the fatherland.’
The government succeeded in suppressing the statement by seizing most copies of the newspaper and handbills.
As the king dithered, his support waned.
Peasants who rallied to his cause were dispersed, and the police who guarded his castle were replaced by a police detachment of 36 men who sealed off all entrances to the castle.
Eventually the king decided he would like to escape, but it was too late.
In the early hours of 12 June, a second commission arrived.
The King was seized just after midnight and at 4 a.m. taken to a waiting carriage.
Ludwig was then transported to Castle Berg (see above) on the shores of Lake Starnberg, south of Munich.
Starnberg See
On 13 June 1886, around 6:00 pm, Ludwig asked Gudden to accompany him on a walk through the Schloß Berg parkland along the shore of Lake Starnberg.
Gudden agreed; the walk may even have been his suggestion, and he told the nurses not to accompany them.
His words were ambiguous (“Es darf kein Pfleger mit gehen”) and whether they were meant to follow at a discreet distance is not clear.
The two men were last seen at about 6:30; they were due back at eight but never returned.
After searches were made for more than three hours by the entire castle personnel in a gale with heavy rain, at 11:30 that night the bodies of both the King and Gudden were found, floating in the shallow water near the shore.
The King’s watch had stopped at 6:54. Gendarmes patrolling the park had heard and seen nothing.
Ludwig’s death was officially ruled a suicide by drowning, but this has been questioned.
Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer in his youth, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs.
Ludwig had expressed suicidal feelings during the crisis, but the suicide theory does not fully explain Gudden’s death.
Gudden’s body showed signs of strangulation and of a struggle, leading to the suspicion that he was strangled to death by Ludwig.
Many hold that Ludwig was murdered by his enemies while attempting to escape from Berg.
Ludwig II Lying in State
Ludwig’s body was dressed in the regalia of the Order of Saint Hubert, and lay in state in the royal chapel at the Munich Residence Palace.
In his right hand he held a posy of white jasmine picked for him by his cousin the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
After an elaborate funeral on 19 June 1886, Ludwig’s remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich.
His heart, however, does not lie with the rest of his body.
Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Mercy) in Altötting, where it was placed beside those of his father and grandfather.
König Ludwig II von Bayern – Death Mask
König Otto von Bayern (1848-1916)
King Ludwig II was succeeded by his brother Otto, but since Otto was genuinely incapacitated by mental illness, the king’s uncle Luitpold remained regent.

König Ludwig III von Bayern
Ludwig III (Ludwig Luitpold Josef Maria Aloys Alfried), (January 7, 1845 – October 18, 1921) was the last King of Bavaria, reigning from 1913 to 1918.
Ludwig was born in Munich, the eldest son of Prince Luitpold of Bavaria and of his wife, Archduchess Augusta of Austria (daughter of Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany).
Hailing from Florence, Augusta always spoke in Italian to her four children.
Ludwig was named for his grandfather, King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
Ludwig spent his first years living in the Electoral rooms of the Munich Residenz and in the Wittelsbacher Palace.
When he was ten years old, the family moved to the Leuchtenberg Palace.
In 1861 at the age of sixteen, Ludwig began his military career when his uncle, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, gave him a commission as a lieutenant in the 6th Jägerbattalion.
A year later he entered the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich where he studied law and economics.
When he was eighteen, he automatically became a member of the Senate of the Bavarian Legislature as a prince of the royal house.
In 1866, Bavaria was allied with the Austrian Empire in the Austro-Prussian War.
Ludwig held the rank of Oberleutnant; he was wounded at the Battle of Helmstedt, taking a bullet in his thigh.
He received the Knight’s Cross 1st Class of the Bavarian Military Merit Order
M Ü N C H E N
Residenz – Műnchen
As admirer of ancient Greece and the Italian renaissance Ludwig patronized the arts as principal of many neoclassical buildings, especially in Munich, and as fanatic collector.
Among others he had built were the Walhalla temple, the Befreiungshalle, the Ludwigstrasse, the Bavaria statue, the Glyptothek, the Old and the New Pinakothek.
His architects Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gärtner also strongly influenced the cityscape of modern Athens. The king collected Greek and Roman sculptures, Early German and Early Dutch paintings, masterpieces of the Italian renaissance, and contemporary art for his museums and galleries.
He placed special emphasis on collecting Greek and Roman sculpture.
One of his most famous conceptions is the celebrated “Schönheitengalerie” (Gallery of Beauties), in the south pavilion of his Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. A collection of 36 portraits of the beautiful women painted between 1827 and 1850 mostly by Joseph Karl Stieler.
After his abdication, Ludwig remained an important and lavish sponsor for the arts. This caused several conflicts with his son and successor Maximilian. Finally Ludwig financed his projects from his own resources.
Melchio Frank – Thronsall -Residenz Műnchen – Bayern Deutschland
München – Glyptothek
The Glyptothek is a museum in Munich, Germany, which was commissioned by the Bavarian King Ludwig I to house his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures (hence γλυπτο- glypto- “sculpture”, from the Greek verb γλύφειν glyphein “to carve”). It was designed by Leo von Klenze in the Neoclassical style, and built from 1816 to 1830. 
The Glyptothek was commissioned by the Crown Prince (later King) Ludwig I of Bavaria alongside other projects, such as the neighboring Königsplatz and the building which houses the State Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, as a monument to ancient Greece.
He envisioned a “German Athens”, in which the ancient Greek culture would be remembered; he had this built in front of the gates of Munich.
The layout of the Königsplatz complex was designed by the architects Karl von Fischer and Leo von Klenze in 1815, the latter arranged it in the style of a forum, with the Glyptothek on the north side.
Colorful frescoes and stuccos made by distinguished artists such as Peter von Cornelius, Clemens von Zimmermann, and Wilhelm von Kaulbach adorned the walls of the museum.
Propyläen – München
The Propyläen is constructed in Doric order and was completed by Leo von Klenze in 1862, and evokes the monumental entrance of the Propylaea for the Athenian Acropolis.
The gate was created as a memorial for the accession to the throne of Otto of Greece, a son of the principal King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
The reliefs and sculptures celebrating the Bavarian prince and the Greek War of Independence were created by Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler.
Bavaria with Ruhmeshalle 
Bavaria is the name given to a monumental, bronze sand-cast 19th-century statue in Munich, southern Germany. It is a female personification of the Bavarian homeland, and by extension its strength and glory.
The statue is part of an ensemble which also includes a hall of fame (Ruhmeshalle) and a stairway.
It was commissioned by Ludwig I of Bavaria, with the specific design being chosen by competition.
It was cast at the Munich foundry of J.B. Stiglmair between 1844 and 1850 and is the first colossal statue since Classical Antiquity to consist entirely of cast bronze.
It was and is up to the present day considered a technological masterpiece. Because of its size it had to be produced in several parts; it is 18.52 meters high and weighs about 87.36 tons.
It rests on a stone base which is 8.92 meters high.
L U D W I G ‘ S C A S T L E S
SCHLOß  HOHENSCHWANGAU
Hohenschwangau Castle or Schloss Hohenschwangau (lit: High Swan County Palace) is a 19th century palace in southern Germany.
It was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.
It is located in the German village of Schwangau near the town of Füssen, part of the county of Ostallgäu in southwestern Bavaria, Germany, very close to the border with Austria.
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Schloß Hohenschwangau
As a boy Ludwig lived for much of the time at Castle Hohenschwangau, a fantasy castle his father had built near the Schwansee (Swan Lake) near Füssen.
In 1832, Ludwig’s father King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought its ruins to replace them by the comfortable neo-Gothic palace known as Hohenschwangau Castle. Finished in 1837, the palace became his family’s summer residence.
It was decorated in the gothic style with countless frescoes depicting heroic German sagas.
The family also visited Lake Starnberg.
As an adolescent, Ludwig became best friends with his aide de camp, Prince Paul of Bavaria’s wealthy Thurn und Taxis family. The two young men rode together, read poetry aloud, and staged scenes from the Romantic operas of Richard Wagner. 
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Music Room with the ‘Wagner Piano’


Richard Wagner
portrait by Franz Von Lenbach
One of Ludwig’s first royal acts was to become an official patron of Wagner, and he invited the composer to visit his court, despite Wagner’s controversial political past, and what was perceived as the “radicalism” of his operas.
Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’, with its Swan Knight hero, had particularly captured the young king’s fancy, and no wonder – his childhood home, Schloss Hohenschwangau, was built by Ludwig’s father, Maximilian, on the remains of the fortress Schwanstein (or “Swan Stone” Castle), which was first mentioned in records from the 12th century.
Legend had it that a family of knights was responsible for its construction.
After the demise of their order in the 16th century, the fortress changed hands several times, and had fallen into ruin by the time Maximilian ascended the throne.
Ludwig’s awareness that his home was built on the ruins of this legendary fortress would eventually combine with his obsession with Lohengrin to produce his greatest architectural folly – the castle later known as Neuschwanstein (“New Swan Stone” Castle).
Ludwig outlined his vision in a letter to Wagner, dated 13 May 1868; “It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin at Hohenschwangau near the Pollat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles…the location is the most beautiful one could find, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world.
The foundations of the building were laid on September 5, 1869 – although Ludwig would not live to see the project completed. Neuschwanstein was designed by Christian Jank, a theatrical set designer, which explains much of its fantastic decoration.
Despite its faux-medieval appearance, however, the castle was built on a steel frame and came outfitted with every modern convenience.
During Ludwig’s life, the building was known as ‘Schloß Neuhohenschwangau’  (New Hohenschwangau Castle); it was only after his death that the name “Neuschwanstein” became popular, melding Ludwig’s identity with that of the Swan Knights.

SCHLOß   NEUSCHWANSTEIN

‘Schloß Neuhohenschwangau’

Schloss Neuschwanstein, is a 19th-century Gothic Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.
The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner.
Neuschwanstein is comprised of a gatehouse, a “Bower,” the Knight’s House with a square tower, and a Palas, or citadel (above), with two towers to the Western end.
On the exterior, it is a fanciful pastiche of medieval and Romanesque elements; its interior, however, was intended as an even more flamboyant evocation of the chivalric ethos of Richard Wagner’s operas.
The rooms within the Palas that were finished by Ludwig are so overdecorated as to be almost overwhelming; the Throne Room in particular was intended to resemble the legendary Grail-Hall of Parsifal (father of Lohengrin), and so was designed in an elaborate Byzantine style by Eduard Ille and Julius Hofmann.

Lohengrin – Schwan Ritter – Swan Knight

Lohengrin first appears in the written record as “Loherangrin,” the son of Parzival, the Grail King, in the epic Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach (1170-1220). The Knight of the Swan story was part of a long oral tradition associated with Godfrey of Bouillon, but von Eschenbach was the first to tie the tale to the Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail. In this version of the story, Loherangrin serves his father as one of the Grail Knights, who are sent out in secret to guard kingdoms that have lost their protectors. Loherangrin is eventually called to this duty in Brabant, where the duke has died without a male heir. The duke’s daughter Elsa fears the kingdom will be lost, but Loherangrin arrives in a boat pulled by a swan and offers to defend her, though he warns that she must never ask his name. They fall in love and eventually wed, but one day Elsa asks what she knows is verboten. The Swan Knight answers, but then regretfully steps back onto his boat, never to return.
In 1848 Richard Wagner adapted the tale into his wildly popular opera Lohengrin,the work through which the story is best known today. In the opera, Lohengrin appears on his favorite mode of transport to defend Princess Elsa from the false accusation of killing her brother (who turns out to be alive and well at the end of the opera). Intriguingly, Wagner extends the theme of the Holy Grail, and its symbolism of masculine purity, further into the story by adding an explanation for Lohengrin’s keeping his true identity in the closet: the Grail, recovered by Lohengrin’s father, imbues the Knight of the Swan with mystical powers that can only be maintained if their source remains unspoken.

Inspired by the Hagia Sophia, the two-story Throne Room was only completed in the year of the king’s death; the throne itself was never made.
The Grotto, which was not underground, as one might expect, but was located between Ludwig’s living room and his study, was one of the most unusual rooms in Neuschwanstein, and was used by the increasingly-isolated king as a refuge in which to indulge his melancholy moods.
Its artificial stalactites were built of oakum and plaster-of-Paris by the famed landscape sculptor Dirrigl of Munich.
Dirrigl had already built a far more extravagant grotto in the park of the Schloss Linderhof.
This artificial lake was designed as a kind of real-life stage set for the “Venus Grotto” scene from Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Schloß Neuschwanstein
The building design was drafted by the stage designer Christian Jank and realized by the architect Eduard Riedel.
Initial ideas for the palace drew stylistically on Nuremberg Castle and envisaged a simple building in place of the old Vorderhohenschwangau Castle, but they were rejected and replaced by increasingly extensive drafts, culminating in a bigger palace modelled on the Wartburg.
The king insisted on a detailed plan and on personal approval of each draft.
His control went so far that the palace has been regarded as his own creation rather than that of the architects involved.
Whereas contemporary architecture critics derided Neuschwanstein, one of the last big palace building projects of the 19th century, as kitsch, Neuschwanstein and Ludwig II’s other buildings are now counted among the major works of European historicism.
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Plan – showing proposed un-built Chapel
Schloß Neuschwanstein under construction 1882-1885
Schloß Neuschwanstein under construction 1886
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Photochrom print c.1900
For financial reasons a project similar to Neuschwanstein – Fanstelkein Castle – never left the planning stages.
The palace can be regarded as typical for 19th century architecture.
The shapes of Romanesque (simple geometric figures such as cuboids and semicircular arches), Gothic (upward-pointing lines, slim towers, delicate embellishments) and Byzantine architecture and art (the Throne Hall décor) were mingled in an eclectic fashion and supplemented with 19th century technical achievements.
The Patrona Bavariae and Saint George on the court face of the Palas (main building) are depicted in the local Lüftlmalerei style, a fresco technique typical for Allgäu farmers’ houses, while the unimplemented drafts for the Knights’ House gallery foretell elements of Art Nouveau.
The basic style was originally planned to be neo-Gothic but was primarily built in Romanesque style in the end. The operatic themes moved gradually from Tannhäuser and Lohengrin to Parsifal.
for more information about Christian Jank, Fanstelkein and Parsifal see –

for more information about Richard Wagner see:
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle, or “New Swan Stone Castle”, is a dramatic Romanesque fortress with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic interiors, which was built high above his father’s castle: Hohenschwangau.
Numerous wall paintings depict scenes from the legends Wagner used in his operas.
Christian glory and chaste love figure predominantly in the iconography, and may have been intended to help Ludwig live up to his religious ideals, but the bedroom decoration depicts the illicit love of Tristan & Isolde (after Gottfried von Strasbourg’s poem).
The castle was not finished at Ludwig’s death; the Kemenate was completed in 1892 but the watch-tower and chapel were only at the foundation stage in 1886 and were never built.
The residence quarters of the King – which he first occupied in May 1884 – can be visited along with the servant’s rooms, kitchens as well as the monumental throne room.
Unfortunately the throne was never completed although sketches show how it might have looked on completion.
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Turm – (Tower)
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Turm – (Tower)
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Pforte
Schloß Neuschwanstein
SCHLOß  NEUSCHWANSTEIN

I N T E R I O R
Vestibule – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Staircase – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Corridor – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Salon – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Study – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Study – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Salon – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Salon – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Chapel – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Grotto – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Minstrel’s Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Minstrel’s Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein


Minstrel’s Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Throne Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein

Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal Dome – Schloß Neuschwanstein
View from Schloß Neuschwanstein
View from Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Project
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Swan Fabric
Because of its obvious beauty and elegance, the swan had long been a favored emblem of European nobility; nobles across Britain, Germany and France wanted swans in their moats and peacocks pecking at their lawns.
There seems to have been a “perfect storm” of swan imagery around Ludwig II, however.
The name of his childhood home, Hohenschwangau, literally translates as “High Swan District,” and it overlooked the Schwansee (“Swan Lake”), a natural habitat for the birds .
The foundation of Hohenschwangau had also been built centuries before by the Knights of Schwangau, or the Swan Knights; it’s not so strange, having grown up in this environment, that Ludwig should have been especially drawn to the mythical Swan Knight Lohengrin.
SCHLOß   LINDERHOF
Schloß Londerhof
Linderhof Palace (German: Schloss Linderhof) is in Germany, near Oberammergau in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey.
It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.
Atlas Sculpture – Schloß Linderhof
Schloß Linderhof – Fountain
The water parterre in front of the castle is dominated by a large basin with the gilt fountain group “Flora and puttos”. The fountain itself is nearly 25 meters high.
Schloß Linderhof at Night
Schloß Linderhof – Plan
Linderhof Castle is an ornate palace in neo-French Rococo style, with handsome formal gardens.
Just north of the palace, at the foot of the Hennenkopf, the park contains a Venus grotto where Ludwig was rowed in a shell-like boat on an underground lake lit with red, green or “Capri” blue effects by electricity, a novelty at that time, provided by one of the first generating plants in Bavaria.
In the forest nearby a romantic wooded hut was also built around an artificial tree (see Hundinghütte above).
Inside the palace, iconography reflects Ludwig’s fascination with the absolutist government of Ancien Régime France.
Ludwig saw himself as the “Moon King”, a romantic shadow of the earlier “Sun King”, Louis XIV of France.
From Linderhof, Ludwig enjoyed moonlit sleigh rides in an elaborate eighteenth century sleigh, complete with footmen in eighteenth century livery.
He was known to stop and visit with rural peasants while on rides, adding to his legend and popularity.
The sleigh can today be viewed with other royal carriages and sleds at the Carriage Museum (Marstallmusem) at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.
Its lantern was illuminated by electricity supplied by a battery.
There is also a Moorish Pavilion in the park of Schloß Linderhof.
Schloß Linderhof – State Bedroom
Schloß Linderhof – State Bedroom
Schloß Linderhof – Salon
Schloß Linderhof – Salon
Schloß Linderhof -Ludwig’s Private bedroom
Schloß Linderhof – Peacock
Schloß Linderhof – Gardens
Schloß Linderhof – Garden Temple
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
This building was designed by the Berliner architect Karl von Diebitsch for the International Exhibition in Paris 1867.
Ludwig II wanted to buy it but was forestalled by the railroad king Bethel Henry Strousberg. Ludwig bought the pavilion after the bankruptcy of Strousberg.
The most notable piece of furniture of this building is the peacock throne.
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk – Interior
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk – Interior


Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
The Peacock Throne
Schloß Linderhof – Venusgrotte
The building is wholly artificial and was built for the king as an illustration of the First Act of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”.
Ludwig liked to be rowed over the lake in his golden swan-boat but at the same time he wanted his own blue grotto of Capri. Therefore 24 dynamos had been installed and so already in the time of Ludwig II it was possible to illuminate the grotto in changing colours.
Schloß Linderhof – Venusgrotte
SCHLOß  HERRENCHIEMSEE
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
Herrenchiemsee is a replica (although only the central section was ever built) of Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles, France, which was meant to outdo its predecessor in scale and opulence – for instance, at 98 meters the Hall of Mirrors is a third longer than the original.
The palace is located on the Herren Island in the middle of the Chiemsee Lake.
Most of the palace was never completed once the king ran out of money, and Ludwig lived there for only 10 days in October 1885, less than a year before his mysterious death.
It is interesting to note that tourists come from France to view the recreation of the famous Ambassadors’ Staircase.
The original Ambassadors’ Staircase at Versailles was demolished in 1752.
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
The unfinished Neues Schloss (New Palace) was designed by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg von Dollmann and built between 1878 and 1885.
Between 1863 and 1886 a total of 16,579,674 Marks was spent constructing Herrenchiemsee. An 1890 ’20 Mark’ gold coin contained 0.2304 troy ounce (7.171 g) of gold. Therefore, 16,579,674 Marks would equate to 190,998 oz of gold.
Ludwig only had the opportunity to stay within the Palace for a few days in September 1885. After his death in the following year, all construction work discontinued and the building was opened for the public.
In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the State of Bavaria.
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Spiegelgalerie – (Hall of Mirrors)
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Ambassador’s Staircase
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Ambassador’s Staircase
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Spiegelgalerie – (Hall of Mirrors)
Unlike the medieval design of Neuschwanstein Castle begun in 1869, the New Palace is, in a sense, a Neo-Baroque monument to Ludwig’s admiration of King Louis XIV of France.
In the great hall of mirrors of the palace the ceiling is painted with 25 tableaux showing Louis XIV at his best.
It was to have been an equivalent to the Palace of Versailles, but only the central portion was built before the king died in 1886, where-after construction was discontinued leaving 50 of the 70 rooms of the palace incomplete.
It was never meant to be a perfectly exact replica of Versailles and in several places surpasses it.
With a length of 98 m (322 ft) and 23 arches the Hall of Mirrors is larger than the Versailles equivalent.
The dining room features an elevator table and a huge chandelier of Meissen porcelain, the largest in the world.
The building also benefits from nearly two centuries of technological progress, while the original Versailles palace did not have a single toilet and the only running water was outside in the fountains.
King Ludwig’s “copy” has more modern facilities including a central heating system and a large heated bathtub.
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Gardens & Fountains
Also, unlike Versailles, it was built on an island and is now only accessible by a small ferry.
The formal gardens are filled with fountains, a copy of the Versailles Bassin de Latone and statues in both the classical style typical of Versailles and in the fantastic style typical of romanticism that was favored by King Ludwig. Cool maidens which look as if they have stepped out of a museum of classical antiquity are never too far from dragons, winged warriors, giant lizards and other extravagant beings which look as if they have come from one of Richard Wagner’s romantic operas.
Adolf Hitler visiting Schloß Herrenchiemsee
c1930s

Adolf Hitler visiting Schloß Herrenchiemsee
c1930s

click here for more information about Adolf Hitler
Wappen Freistaat Bayern
Bavaria, formally the Freistaat Bayern (Free State of Bavaria), pronounced is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of the country.
With an area of 70,548 square kilometres (27,200 sq mi), it is the largest German state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany.
Bavaria is Germany’s second most populous state (after North Rhine-Westphalia) with almost 12.5 million inhabitants, more than any of the three sovereign states on its borders.
Bavaria’s capital is Munich.
One of the oldest states of Europe, it was established as a duchy in the mid first millennium.
In the 17th century, the Duke of Bavaria became a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria existed from 1806 to 1918, and Bavaria has since been a free state (republic).
Modern Bavaria also includes parts of the historical regions of Franconia and Swabia.

for more information see
click here for ‘Richard Wagner
a fascinating, fully illustrated study of this
truly remarkable period of modern history
click here for ‘Parsifal’
Richard Wagner’s greates music drama
for the art of Peter Crawford go to

Ruhpolding

RUHPOLDING

    
(A BAVARIAN VILLAGE)



Peter first visited Ruhpolding in 1958 with his parents John and Jane Crawford.

Ruhpolding is a municipality of the Traunstein district in southeastern Bavaria, Germany.

It is situated in the south of the Chiemgau region in the Alps.
Ruhpolding has a population of approximately 6,400.
The economy is based on tourism and sports.
The name “Ruhpolding” originates from the Bavarian word Rupoltingin and means “the people of the strong famous one”. The town is mentioned as Ruhpoldingen for the first time in 1193.
It was connected through railway in 1895.
Since 1948, Ruhpolding became a famous spa and tourist resort, especially for winter sports.









Ruhpolding – Satellite View






Ruhpolding Bahnhof






Ruhpolding Bahnhof






Welcoming Music at Ruhpolding Station







‘Grüß Gott in Ruhpolding’





Ruhpolding – the Village





Ruhpolding – Haus Tant Agnes






Ruhpolding – Village Centre






Ruhpolding – General View






Kurhaus – Ruhpolding






Jane and Peter – Kurhaus
Ruhpolding – c 1958






Auf dem weg nach Ruhpolding – Bayern 

      
HOLIDAY IN RUHPOLDING


Peter was very excited, although he had little idea of where Bavaria was, or what the place was like.

1950s British Passport
Soon, however, the excitement was forgotten, and it was only with a trip to the photographers on Hounslow Broadway, opposite the Bus Garage, in the early summer, that the enthusiasm was rekindled.
The photographs were for a new passport, and in those days British Pasports were ‘real passports’, with hard covers of a royal blue, buitfully embossed and gilded with the Royal Arms.
The next step was John Crawford’  visit to the Bank Manager, armed with his passport, in order to change some english sterling into Deutschmarks.
Then it was time for new clothes, with shirts and shorts for Peter, in Jane’s favourite pale green.
Then the school Summer Holidays came in August, and it was time to go on holiday.
Now Peter had been abroad before – to France – and by air – which was a real adventure in the 1950s, but only to Calais and Paris.
Bavaria was like Ruritania, however, a strange place in the middle of Europe, high among the mountain peaks – so this was to be a real adventure !

The Prisoner of Zenda

And Peter had seen the prisoner of Zenda a few years earlier – one of his favourite films – and also had a copy of the book – so he knew what to expect The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)—Starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Louis Calhern, Jane Greer, Lewis Stone, Robert Douglas, James Mason and Robert Coote. It was adapted by Edward Rose, (dramatization) Wells Root, John L. Balderston, Noel Langley and Donald Ogden Stewart (additional dialogue, originally uncredited). It was directed by Richard Thorpe.It is a shot-for-shot copy of the 1937 film, the only difference being that it was made in Technicolor.

Harwich – Gateway to Europe

So – the summer came, and with it for Peter, came the summer holidays from school.
And the holiday began, but not with a trip to the airport – currency restrictions made that too expensive – so it was off to Liverpool Street station, and a train to the coast and a ferry to the continent.

Pullman
Liverpool Street Station – London

Then it was a journey by train across Europe – and a long journey  – and this was the most exciting adventure that Peter had ever had – apart from flying to France perhaps.
And this involved a crossing of the North Seas by British Rail Ferries (later known as Sealink) and then the train journey provided by a company called ‘Blue Cars’ – which was a reference to the Pullman cars.

Liverpool Street to Harwich
Arriving at Harwich

Liverpool Street station, in London, was still a place of steam and noise, as the boilers of huge locomotives were fired up in preparation for their journeys.

For Peter, this was the start of a momentous journey, and it was also Peter’s first journey on a Pullman train – where you actually slept on the train.
But there was no sleeping to begin with – because first there was a rather boring journey to Harwich.

SS Amsterdam
British Railways Logo – 1950s

As the train steamed into Parkston Quay in Harwich the atmosphere changed completely.
There is nothing like the crisp smell of sea salt and marine diesel, which for many years, for Peter, meant the beginning of an adventure.

Hoek van Holland – 1950s

The next step was to board the SS Amsterdam, one of British Rail’s newest ships, and then settle down and prepare for the sea crossing.
This was a daytime crossing, for the trip from Harwich to the Hoek van Holland.
The crossing in those days, took about seven hours, and the SS Amsterdam would reach the Hoek in the late afternoon.
After a good look round the ship, Peter, Jane and John Decided to have lunch.

Dining on Board the Ferry

The SS Amsterdam was a large, new ferry, and had a magnificent dining salon.
Arrival at the Hoek involved disembarkation and customs – remember that this was in that golden time before the European Common Market, and border restrictions were scrupulously enforced on the continent by imposing and intimidating customs officers, in resplendent uniforms, and carrying side-arms.
Jane, John and Peter then re-boarded the Pullman, and prepared for the journey across Europe.

British Railways Dining Car

The Train started its journey, passing through the incredibly flat countryside, dotted with the inevitable windmills, which reminded Peter of the Norfolk Broads.
By then it was getting dark so, before retiring for the night, Peter Jane and John decided to go to the restaurant car for dinner.
After dinner it was time to go to bed – and for Peter, the first ‘bed-time’ on a train.
Obviously Peter found it difficult to sleep. Obviously there was the noise and the movement, and the dim blue light that remained on in the compartment throughout the night – but Peter also had the urge to peek out through the curtains to glimpse the twinkling lights of the occasional town, village and station.
Then came the oblivion of sleep…….

Now while Peter is sleeping we may consider the strange circumstances of this holiday to Bavaria – or Bayern as it is called in German.
We have already explained how Jane had an antipathy to Germans, and in particular Herr Hitler as a result of what had happened during the war.
Well now we must consider a little of the recent history of the particular alpine resort that Peter’s parents had decided to use as the base for their first continental holiday.
Remember as you read this that there were many other places in Germany that they could have visited, and more significantly many places in Europe other than Germany.
We mention this because Ruhpolding had some rather interesting recent history.
Ruhpolding Hauptplatz
Celebration of the Austrian Anchluß
Ruhpolding Hauptplatz Feb 1936

We know that in 1938, a year after Jane and John married, and the year of the Anchluß  that there was a celebration in the main square in Ruhpolding.
We know this because there is photographic evidence.
Of course, everybody that Peter ever met in Germany, (with the exception of Adolf Lördermann, who we will meet later), made it very clear that they had nothing to do with the National Socialists or the Third Reich, so it’s interesting to see evidence of the villagers giving enthusiastic Nazi salutes – and it makes one wonder just who were all those enthusiastic people in the Nürnberg Stadium, (remember Nürnberg is also in Bavaria).

Finnish SS – Ruhpolding
23rd of May 1943

Equally, later in the war the Finnish SS were stationed in Ruhpolding.
That is as it may be, but even more interesting is the link that Ruhpolding had with the highest echelons of the Third Reich hierarchy.
While, in the 1950s, most of the leaders of the Reich and individuals closely associated with Hitler were either dead, or had gone into hiding, usually in some obscure South American state, some of those closest to Jane’s much reviled Herr Hitler were actually living in Ruhpolding.

Family of Eva Braun

We are referring  of course, to Adolf Hitler’s in-laws.
Yes, members of Eva Braun’s family were living openly and unmolested in Ruhpolding.
And these people were pillars of the community, and were regular visitors to the local Gasthof where, in fact, they met Peter, Jane and John.
So this makes this holiday very strange.

Gretl and Fegelein
Adlerhorst 1944

Friedrich Braun (also known as Fritz; a School teacher; – Parents: Phillip Braun, Christina Heyser)
Birth: Neckargmund, Germany – Death: 22 January 1964 in Ruhpolding, Bavaria, Germany
Franziska Kronberger – Birth:1880 – Death: January 1976 in Ruhpolding, Bavaria, Germany
Occupation: Seamstress ; Father: Unidentified Veterinarian b: in of Oberpfalz, Germany
Their Children: – Eva Anna Paula Braun b: 6 February 1912 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Margarete (Gretl) Braun (married SS-Gruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein 3 June 1944. born 30 October 1906 in Ansbach, Germany, and died 29 April 1945 in Berlin, Germany.

And then, to cap it all, John arranged for a visit to Berchtesgaden, the ruins of the Berghof, the  Gasthof Zum Türken, and the Adlerhorst (Eagles Nest) on the Kehlstein.
But, of course, while Peter slept he knew nothing of this.
So back to the story …

Chiemgau Alps – Bayern

Peter woke up early – he could see the sun shining brilliantly through the curtains.
Bleary eyed, Peter opened the curtain just a little, only to get one of the biggest shocks of his life.
Outside the window, above the passing forest were huge, snow-capped mountains.
So then, after dressing, Peter, Jane and John went to the dining car for breakfast, and this would be the last English meal that Peter would have for two weeks.
So it was breakfast while watching the beautiful Bavarian Alps.

Arrival in Ruhpolding

Ruhpolding Bahnhof – Bayern
Tirolean Band – Ruhpolding Bahnhof

And so the final destination came into view.
A tiny little station, without a proper platform, (on the continent then you either climbed up or climbed down to enter or leave a train).
And on the low platform were a group of Bavarian villagers, and a Tirolean Band.
There, amid the raucous sounds of the ‘oompah’ band and the chatter of the villagers, was a very small, dark haired woman, probably in her sixties.

She was looking for ‘Herr Crawford’, because this was to be our hostess for the next two weeks.

This was Frau Agnes – a sweet little old lady, with dark, ‘frizzy’ hair, who was dragging a small trolley.
She insisted on loading the cases onto the little trolley, despite John’s protestations to the contrary.
She then began dragging the trolley from the station to the road, chatting away all the time in broken English, as they all made their way through the village.
Agness, as Peter learned later, had been married, but her husband, a forester (sounds like something from ‘Red Riding Hood’), had been killed in the First World War.
Agness had then inherited a remarkably large house in the centre of the village.
What she had done during the Third Reich and the Second World War Peter never discovered, (but then that was the case with most of the people he met in Austria and Germany), but in the fifties she had supported herself by renting out rooms in her spacious home to tourists.
And that, of course, is how Peter, Jane and John met her.

Die Gebrüder Grimm 

To Peter, Ruhpolding was like a place for a Brothers Grimm story.

Die Gebrüder Grimm (The BrothersGrimm) – Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who together collected folklore. They are among the most well-known storytellers of European folk tales, and their work popularized such stories as “Cinderella”, “The Frog Prince” (Der Froschkönig), “Hansel and Gretel” (Hänsel und Gretel), “Rapunzel”, “Rumpelstiltskin” (Rumpelstilzchen), and “Snow White” (Schneewittchen). Their first collection of folk tales, Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), was published in 1812.

Ortszentrum Ruhpolding
The quaint houses, in most case with painted stucco façades and carved wooden, flower bedecked balconies, were set in a lush landscape of pasture of gentle, green hills overlooked by some magnificent mountains.
In the centre of the town was a water trough, undoubtedly originally used for the passing dairy herds, and a strange object which reminded Peter of an Indian Totem pole indicated the various amenities of the village and the surrounding area.


click here for Peter’s Biography

‘Peter – the early years’