Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia

Prince August Wilhelm Heinrich Günther Viktor of Prussia (29 January 1887 – 25 March 1949), called "Auwi", was the fourth son of Wilhelm II, German Emperor by his first wife, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. He was a vocal supporter of Nazism and of Adolf Hitler.

Early life

He was born in the Potsdamer Stadtschloss when his grandfather was still the Crown Prince of Prussia. He spent his youth with his siblings at the New Palace, also in Potsdam, and his school days at the Prinzenhaus in Plön. Later, he studied at the universities of Bonn, Berlin and Strasbourg. He received his doctorate in political science in 1907 "in an exceedingly dubious manner", as one author describes it.

Prince August Wilhelm married his cousin Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (21 April 1887 Germany – 15 April 1957 France) on 22 October 1908 at the Berliner Stadtschloss. The couple had planned to take up residence in Schönhausen Palace in Berlin, but changed their mind when August Wilhelm's father decided to leave his son the Villa Liegnitz in the Sanssouci Park. On 26 December 1912 their only child, Prince Alexander Ferdinand of Prussia (died 12 June 1985), was born. Their Potsdam residence developed into a meeting place for artists and scholars.

During the First World War, August Wilhelm was made district administrator (Landrat) of the district of Ruppin; his office and residence was now Schloss Rheinsberg. His personal adjutant Hans Georg von Mackensen, with whom he had been close friends since his youth, played an important role in his life. These "pronounced homophilic tendencies" contributed to the failure of his marriage to Princess Alexandra Victoria. They never undertook a formal divorce due to the opposition of August Wilhelm's father, Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Weimar Republic

After the end of the war, the couple separated and formally divorced in March 1920. August Wilhelm was awarded custody of their son. After his divorce and the marriage of his friend Hans Georg von Mackensen to Winifred von Neurath, the daughter of Konstantin von Neurath, August Wilhelm lived a reclusive life in his villa in Potsdam. He took drawing lessons with Professor Arthur Kampf, and the sale of his pictures secured him an additional source of income.

Involvement with National Socialism

August Wilhelm joined the nationalist veterans group Stahlhelm (English: "Steel Helmet"). In the following years he had increasing contact with the Nazi Party (NSDAP). To the unease of his family and against his father's will, he joined the "dangerous, revolutionary" NSDAP on 1 April 1930, whereupon he received the low membership number 24, for symbolic reasons. In November 1931, he was accepted into the paramilitary Sturmabteilung (SA) with the rank of Standartenführer. His involvement with the NSDAP and his adoration of Adolf Hitler made August Wilhelm often the subject of mockery by the left-wing press (who gave him the nickname Braunhemdchen Auwi, or "Auwi the Little Brown Shirt"), politicians (the French Ambassador André François-Poncet called him Hanswurst, i.e. "Hans the Brown Sausage"), and from National Socialists themselves (Joseph Goebbels referred to him as a "good-natured, but slightly gormless boy").

As a representative of the erstwhile Prussian royal dynasty and German imperial dynasty, August Wilhelm was deliberately used by the Nazis to gain votes in elections such as the lead candidate of the NSDAP for election to the Prussian parliament in April 1932 or as an election speaker alongside Hitler, whom he accompanied on flights across Germany at the same time. Through his appearances at mass rallies of the NSDAP, he addressed himself to sections of the population that were lukewarm towards National Socialism and convinced them "that Hitler was not a threat, but a benefactor of the German people and the German Empire".

In 1933 August Wilhelm was given a position within the Prussian state, and became a member of the German Reichstag. However, after the abolition of the Weimar Republic with the passing of the Enabling Act of 1933, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the Third Reich, the Nazis no longer needed the former prince, who himself had secretly hoped "that Hitler would one day hoist him or his son Alexander up to the vacant throne of the Kaiser". Thus in spring 1934 he was denied direct access to Hitler and by the summer after the Night of the Long Knives, he found himself in the wilderness politically. This did not, however, reduce his adoration of Hitler.

One high-profile visits took August Wilhelm to the Passau Hall of the Nibelungs (Nibelungenhalle).[1]

On 30 June 1939 he was made an SA-Obergruppenführer, the second highest rank in the SA, but after making derogatory remarks about Joseph Goebbels in private, he was denounced in 1942. From then on, he was completely sidelined and was also banned from making public speeches.

At the beginning of February 1945, in the company of the former Crown Princess Cecilie, August Wilhelm fled the approaching Red Army, going from Potsdam to Kronberg to take refuge with his aunt Princess Margaret of Prussia, a sister of his father.

Post-war life

At the end of the Second World War, on 8 May 1945, August Wilhelm was arrested by United States soldiers and imprisoned on the premises of the Flak-Kaserne Ludwigsburg. At his denazification trial (Spruchkammerverfahren) in 1948, he was asked if he had since repudiated National Socialism, and replied: "I beg your pardon?" He was thus categorized as "incriminated" by the denazification process and sentenced to two and a half years' hard labour. However, as he had been confined in the Ludwigsburg internment camp since 1945, he was considered to have served his sentence.

Immediately after his release, new proceedings were instituted against August Wilhelm. A court in Potsdam, in the Soviet zone, issued an arrest warrant against him, but soon after that he became seriously ill and died at a hospital in Stuttgart at the age of 62. He was buried in Langenburg in the cemetery of the princes of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

With his wife, Princess Alexandra of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Prince August Wilhelm had one son:

Regimental Commissions through World War I

  • 1. Garderegiment zu Fuß (1st Regiment of Foot Guards), Potsdam: Leutnant à la suite, from January 29, 1897; Oberleutnant, before 1908.
  • à la suite, Grenadierregiment Konig Friedrich Wilhelm I. (2. Ostpreussisches) Nr. 3
  • à la suite, 2. Gardegrenadierlandwehrregiment (2nd Reserve Regiment of Grenadier Guards) [2]

Chivalric Orders



  1. Anna Rosmus Hitler's Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 113ff
  2. Schench, G. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908. Berlin, Prussia, 1907.
  3. Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 349. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  4. Schench, G. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908. Berlin, Prussia, 1907.
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