This year I have visited Huis Doorn in Doorn, Netherlands. Huis Doorn is a manor house which is currently a national museum and a national heritage site.
After WWI in 1919, Wilhelm II (former Emperor of Germany), bought the house, where he lived in exile from 1920 until his death in 1941. He is buried in a mausoleum in the gardens. According to the story, Wilhelm stiptulated that his body will only buried in Germany when this country is a monarchy again. As this hasn't happened (yet) his body is still in Doorn. After the German occupation in World War II, the house was seized by the Dutch government as hostile property.
During Wilhelms years in exile, he was allowed to travel freely within a 15 mile radius of his house, but journeys farther than that meant that advance notice had to be given to a local government official. As he disliked having to kowtow to a minor official, he rarely journeyed beyond the "free" limit. The former Emperor regularly exercised by chopping down many of the estate's trees, splitting the logs into stacks of firewood, thereby denuding the matured landscape as the years progressed. Hence he was called by his enemies "The Woodchopper of Doorn".
Wilhelm's asylum in the Netherlands was based on family ties with Queen Wilhelmina, whom, some claim, he embarrassed by his political statements. In fact, Wilhelm rarely spoke publicly, while in exile. His first wife, Dona, died at Huis Doorn and, afterwards, her body was taken back to Potsdam in Germany where she was buried in the Temple of Antiquities. Wilhelm could only accompany her on her last journey as far as the German border.
In January 1922, Wilhelm received a birthday greeting from a son of the late Prince Johann George Ludwig Ferdinand August Wilhelm of Schönaich-Carolath. The 63-year-old Wilhelm invited the boy and his mother, Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, to Doorn. Wilhelm found Hermine very attractive, and greatly enjoyed her company. The couple were wed on 9 November 1922, despite the objections of Wilhelm's monarchist supporters and his children. Hermine's daughter, Princess Henriette, married the late Prince Joachim's son, Karl Franz Josef, in 1940, but divorced in 1946. Hermine remained a constant companion to the aging Emperor until his death. Afterwards Hermine went back to Germany.
In 1938, Wilhelms grandson, Prince Louis Ferdinand, was married to Grand Duchess Kira of Russia, in Huis Doorn.
Despite the Nazi occupation of Holland in 1940, Wilhelm went undisturbed by the Wehrmacht.Wilhelm II died of a pulmonary embolism at Huis Doorn, on 4 June 1941, with German occupation soldiers on guard at the gates of his estate. He was buried in a small mausoleum in the gardens, to await his return to Germany upon the restoration of the Prussian monarchy, according to the terms of his will. His wish that no swastikas would be displayed at his funeral was not heeded.
Five of Wilhelm's beloved dachshunds are buried in the park. A marker is dedicated to the memory of his dog, "Senta", who was a favorite of Wilhelm and died in 1927 at the age of 20.
The Dutch government seized the manor house and its household effects in 1945 and, since then, many new trees have been re-planted and the wooded parkland is returning to its earlier glory.
Huis Doorn opened its doors as a historic house museum in 1956. It was just as Wilhelm left it, with marquetry commodes, tapestries, paintings by German court painters, porcelains and silver. Wilhelm's collections of snuffboxes and watches that belonged to Frederick the Great are considered by some to be the most interesting of the artifacts.
In June each year, a devoted band of German monarchists still come to pay their respects and lay wreaths, accompanied by marchers in period uniforms and representatives from modern monarchist organisations, such as Tradition und Leben of Cologne.
The house became a national heritage site or rijksmonument in 1997.