The Kaiser’s Table

I am readingTravellers In The Third Reich by Julia Boyd. It is a book full of contemporary accounts by various people of their impressions of Germany from the period from after the First World War to the beginning of the Second World War.

The kaiser’s table is a minor footnote I will describe here for its oddity. One thing, though, that I have gathered from the book is that the reparations forced by France and the United States were doubly hated. They were hated because the Allies took over the means of production. They took over the coal fields of the Saar Region and the heavy industry regions of the Ruhr.

Therefore, felt the Germans, they were required to pay reparations without the means to earn the money to pay them.

They were also hated because of the long period of uncertainty between the end of the war in 1918 and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920.

Another thing I read repeatedly is the observation that Germany was clean and well tended. That is not so surprising given that the battlefields of Europe were in France and Belgium, and the countryside of Germany escaped comparatively unscathed.

Still, it’s an observation I made when I first travelled to Germany when I was fourteen. On the return journey by bus up the A1 in England to Leeds, I saw for the first time with new eyes how dismally untended the road verges and the central reservation were. It was an eye opener.

For the moment though, I just want to record here one of those little footnotes of history – about the Kaiser’s table at this castle residence, no longer occupied by him after the war.

The Kaiser’s Table

On Page 72 of Travellers In The Third Reich there is an extract from a letter that Lady Rumbold, wife of the British ambassador to Germany wrote to her mother.

She wrote after the Duke (later King George VI) and Duchess of York’s visit to Berlin in March 1929 en route to the wedding of Prince Olaf in Germany.

The extract from the letter:

The Duke and Duchess were given a private tour of the Kaiser’s former residence.

Even his tiny bedroom which is never shown, and which looked rather tragic lumbered up with: things, and wall paper very dilapidated. It was quite small and dark looking on to a courtyard, with a tiny dressing-room next to it.

In his study is the famous table on which he signed the order for the mobilisation of the Army on 1st August 1914.

This writing table is made out of wood from The Victory, and the huge inkstand is a model of it, with the famous Nelson signal ‘England expects etc.’ in coloured flags. Curious isn’t it?

The Trafalgar Campaign was a series of fleet manoeuvres by the French and Spanish fleets working together to force a passage through the English Channel, and thereby allow the French to invade England. The Battle of Trafalgar was the culmination of that campaign, ending in victory for the British.

HMS Victory was Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. In 1922, the ship was moved to a dry dock at Portsmouth, England, and preserved as a museum ship.

3 thoughts on “The Kaiser’s Table”

  1. Absorbing, well-written historical bits, David.

    What a blunder to create such resentment amongst the Germans, which of course enabled Hitler to gain much more of a footing.

    And earlier on in Germany’s history, it’s strange to think of the contrast between the Kaiser’s tiny bedroom and its housing of the table where he sat to sign the paper for the deadly mobilisation of the Army in 1914.

    Thanks for sharing your interesting perspective.

    • That was a mistake that the USA was keen to avoid after the Second World War. And it may prove to be the wiser decision. Of course, the 1929 crash that hit everywhere in Europe and Germany harder than most, didn’t help.

  2. Yes, it’s taught to us Americans in history classes as an extremely important lesson that was learned.

    I hadn’t factored in the 1929 crash. No doubt that was a huge factor.

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