Friedrich III. (German Empire)

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Friedrich III., Painting by Minna Pfüller , Friedrich's signature:
Signature of Friedrich III.  (German Empire) .PNG

Friedrich III. , with full name Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl von Prussia (born October 18, 1831 in the New Palace in Potsdam ; †  June 15,  1888 ibid), from the House of Hohenzollern was German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in the year of his death . He was a Prussian general in the German and Franco-German Wars .


Family background

Friedrich was born on October 18, 1831, the son of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach . At this time, the Prussian Crown Prince was Wilhelm's older brother, Friedrich Wilhelm . His marriage to Elisabeth Ludovika von Bayern in 1823 remained childless until his accession to the throne in 1840. As king, Friedrich Wilhelm IV appointed his brother Wilhelm to be his heir to the throne under the name of Prince of Prussia . As a result, from 1840 onwards, as Wilhelm's first-born son, Friedrich was presumptively second in the Prussian line of succession.

The marriage between Wilhelm and Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach was not a happy marriage of convenience. Wilhelm was originally in love with the Polish princess Elisa Radziwiłł . Since a marital connection with the princess, who was not considered to be equal, represented a dynastic and political mesalliance from the point of view of the Prussian royal court , Wilhelm's father, Friedrich Wilhelm III. in June 1826 the connection. Without giving up his emotional bond with Elisa Radziwiłł, Wilhelm, under pressure from his father, wrote to ask for the hand of the princess from Weimar on August 29, 1828.

Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach was the second daughter of Grand Duke Carl Friedrich and Grand Duchess Maria Pawlowna Romanowa , a sister of Tsar Alexander I of Russia . While her father was a shy person whose preferred reading remained fairy tales until the end of his life , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called her mother “one of the best and most important women of her time”. Augusta himself received a comprehensive education at the liberal Weimar court, which was aimed at later being able to perform courtly duties of representation. Wilhelm of Prussia, on the other hand, felt primarily obliged to the military and was mostly skeptical and negative about liberal and national innovations.

Childhood and youth

Friedrich Wilhelm, around 1841

The child's nickname was Friedrich . After his accession to the throne, Friedrich Wilhelm IV replaced him with the double name Friedrich Wilhelm . Marie von Clausewitz , the widow of the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz , who died in 1831, was one of the first teachers . Friedrich Wilhelm received more formal school lessons from the age of five, and from this point onwards he was educated exclusively by men.

From 1838 to 1844 the reformed Swiss theologian Frédéric Gordet was Friedrich Wilhelm's civilian educator , who accompanied him and his friend and classmate Rudolf von Zastrow through the day. From October 1844 the ancient historian Ernst Curtius took over the office of civil educator. Curtius is said to have awakened enthusiasm for art and for ancient Greece and Rome in the Prussian prince. In line with the tradition of the Hohenzollern company, training included not only fencing, riding, dancing and gymnastics, but also imparting practical skills. Friedrich Wilhelm was instructed in carpentry, book printing and bookbinding. However, the focus of education was military training. Colonel Karl von Unruh was responsible for this until 1849 . As early as the summer of 1844, the 13-year-old prince took part in so-called cadet maneuvers, in which he and his three-year-old cousin Friedrich Karl were each at the head of an "army". In 1846 the first participation in a real maneuver followed, in which Friedrich Wilhelm accompanied officers of the 1st Guard Division .

March Revolution 1848

The March Revolution of 1848 was one of the decisive experiences of Friedrich Wilhelm's youth .

Friedrich Wilhelm IV's accession to the throne on June 7, 1840 had been linked to great expectations in the liberal and patriotic camp, as he had acquired a reputation for being a modern, open-minded person during his time as Crown Prince. However, Frederick William IV refused to give his country a constitution and ruled far more conservatively than his years as crown prince had suggested. The United State Parliament , which Friedrich Wilhelm convened in view of the hunger revolt that broke out on April 22, 1847 and whose participation was limited to financial issues, he dissolved again a few months later.

For the bloody conflicts of the March Revolution of 1848 , in which the military grapeshot and grenades used against the insurgents, made the population of Frederick William's father, the Prince of Prussia, responsible. At the request of his royal brother, Wilhelm, who was insulted as the “grape prince”, fled to London, now 51 years old. Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach withdrew to Potsdam with Friedrich Wilhelm and his sister Luise, who was seven years younger than him. In liberal circles the idea was seriously discussed whether the royal couple should abdicate, the crown prince renounce the throne and instead Augusta, the “noble and liberal princess”, should take over the reign until her son Friedrich Wilhelm came of age. Since the letters and diaries of that time were later destroyed by Augusta, it is no longer understandable today whether Friedrich Wilhelm's mother seriously considered this plan. In June 1848 Wilhelm was able to return to Prussia. He was therefore present when his son was consecrated in the palace chapel in September 1848. A few months later, on May 3, 1849, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm began his active military service with the 1st Guard Regiment on foot .


Friedrich Wilhelm was to Hohenzollernschem house Act 18 years ago, on October 18, 1849 of age . The birthday was celebrated in Babelsberg Palace and the prince spoke publicly for the first time in front of members of the royal family, the delegations of the court, the state ministry, the generals and the city representatives. At the same time, his military career was interrupted because Friedrich Wilhelm - presumably at the suggestion of his mother - began studying law at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn . He also heard history, politics and lectures on the English constitution. His parents lived nearby during this period. The Prince of Prussia was appointed Governor General of the Rhine Province in 1849 and moved into a residence with his wife in Koblenz in the spring of 1850 .

Friedrich Wilhelm was not the only high-ranking student at Bonn University. The 1818 by Friedrich Wilhelm III. The university was a center of attraction for many young princely sons, Friedrich Wilhelm surrounded himself mainly with members of the nobility. His military educator Friedrich Leopold Fischer , who had been in office since 1849, ensured that Friedrich Wilhelm got to know numerous people of liberal and national sentiments. Among his professors were well-known national liberals such as Ernst Moritz Arndt and Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann . Crown Princess Augusta also received numerous people in Koblenz who thought liberal or conservative-liberal. Under their influence, Crown Prince Wilhelm gradually became receptive to the idea of ​​a constitutional monarchy based on the English model.

On January 21, 1851 he was on his way back from Berlin to his place of study. On January 18, 1851, the 150th anniversary of Prussia's acquisition of the royal dignity took place in Berlin. The prince was traveling from Minden on a train of the Cologne-Mindener Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft in a reserved compartment of the first carriage class when the train's locomotive derailed and carried several wagons with it. Three people died. The prince was among the wounded. It was one of the worst railway accidents in Germany to date.

First meeting with Victoria

Friedrich-Wilhelm and Viktoria
around 1858

When the first world exhibition took place in London in 1851 , Wilhelm of Prussia and Princess Augusta as well as their two children Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise were among the guests invited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. During this visit Friedrich Wilhelm met the eldest daughter of the Queen of England for the first time. Despite the great age difference - Princess Victoria was eleven at the time of the visit, Friedrich Wilhelm was 19 - the two got on well. The young princess had been given the task of showing the prince through the exhibition - she answered his hesitant English in fluent German. Years later, Friedrich Wilhelm emphasized how much he was impressed by the mixture of childishness, intellectual curiosity and natural dignity that she showed during the tour. In Prince Albert, the presumptive heir to the throne found an interlocutor who shared and strengthened his liberal political views. Friedrich Wilhelm, who spent a total of four weeks in England, was also impressed by the way the British royal family interacted. Unlike his parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were very fond of each other and led a family life that was far removed from the severity and formality of the Prussian court. After the prince returned to Germany, Princess Victoria and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm began to write to each other regularly. In a letter to her uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium, Queen Victoria expressed the hope that this encounter would lead to a closer bond in the medium term.

Education of the presumptive heir to the throne

Friedrich Wilhelm finished his studies at Easter 1852. This was followed by a long trip to the Russian Tsar's court. This was followed by a time in which Friedrich Wilhelm increasingly got to know individual aspects of the administration of the Prussian state. This included internships in the finance and trade ministries as well as in the war ministry and in the district administration of Potsdam and Breslau. However, the focus was still on military training. During the autumn maneuver of 1853 he was assigned to the king's adjutant general, the commanding general of the guard corps Karl von der Groeben , and was appointed major on September 11, 1853 because of his ability on the parade field.

At the request of the Prussian King, Colonel Helmuth von Moltke became the Prince's personal adjutant and thus his most important military teacher. Moltke held this office until his appointment to the head of the General Staff in October 1857. Wilhelm of Prussia and Princess Augusta had initially hesitated to consent to this appointment because they saw behind it a game of court camarilla, which would bind the heir to the throne more closely to the ruling king. Only after getting to know each other personally did they agree: Moltke was neither extremely conservative nor uncritically liberal, Princess Augusta was also taken with the manners of the Prussian general staff officer and his education.

Engagement and marriage

Princess Victoria in 1857, painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Four years after the London World's Fair, Friedrich Wilhelm traveled to Scotland to visit the British royal family in their Balmoral Castle and to clarify whether Princess Victoria was a suitable spouse for him. His trip to Great Britain not only found support in Prussian court circles, on the contrary, many at court considered a marital relationship with the Russian Tsarist house to be politically more desirable. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Had given his consent to a possible marriage between his nephew and the British princess only reluctantly and initially even kept his consent secret from his own wife, who was averse to England.

On the third day of his stay, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm asked Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for permission to hold their daughter's hand. The consent of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was tied to the condition, among other things, that the wedding should not take place before Victoria was 17 years old.

The engagement between Princess Victoria and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, which was only announced on May 17, 1856, met with much criticism from the British public: It weighed on Prussia for its neutral stance during the Crimean War . In an article criticizing the British newspaper Times , the House of Hohenzollern as a paltry dynasty that pursuing a fickle and untrustworthy foreign policy and their survival is dependent on Russia. The article also complained that the Prussian royal family had not kept the assurances they had given the people during the revolution in 1848. In Germany, the response to the engagement was more divided. Liberal circles welcomed the connection with the British royal family, while most members of the Prussian royal house and the politically conservative circles rejected the planned connection.

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was one of the liberals of the Vormärz and was a supporter of the so-called Coburg Plan . During the involuntary stay of Friedrich Wilhelm's father in London in 1848, Prince Albert tried to convince him of his vision of a Germany united under the rule of a liberal Prussia. According to Prince Albert, this goal could only be achieved if Prussia, like the United Kingdom, developed into a constitutional monarchy . Prince Albert used the almost two years between engagement and wedding to educate his daughter in this regard. He taught her personally in politics and modern European history and had his daughter write essays about events in Prussia. In his political instructions, however, Prince Albert overestimated the strength of the liberal movement in Prussia, whose supporters were essentially limited to a small middle class and few intellectuals compared to Great Britain. However, it became increasingly clear to everyone involved what a difficult role the young Princess Victoria would have to play at the Prussian court, which was largely critical of Great Britain. Feodora zu Leiningen , the German half-sister of Queen Victoria, described the Prussian court in a letter to the royal couple as a hotbed of envy, jealousy, intrigue and malicious scams.

Frederick and Victoria were married on January 25, 1858 in the chapel of St James's Palace in London. Before that, there had been differences of opinion about the wedding location. As the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria enforced her claim to marry her eldest daughter in England. The Prussian royal family took it for granted that the prince, who was second in line to the throne at the time, married in Berlin.

Prussian Crown Prince

As Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, he signed this army order on June 20, 1866 during the Austro-Prussian War

With the accession of his father Wilhelm I to the throne in 1861, Friedrich Wilhelm became Prussian Crown Prince. As early as 1862, when, at the height of the constitutional conflict, his father thought of abdication, he had the opportunity to become king himself. However, for reasons of loyalty and against the wishes of his wife, Friedrich Wilhelm refused. With a limited liberal political sentiment, which his mother and wife encouraged and supported, he was seen in the following years as an opponent of the domestic politics of his father and Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck , but showed himself in this opposition role because of his loyalty to the father and monarch as well as because of the Bismarck's foreign policy and military successes were repeatedly divided and wavering.

Danzig speech

This was particularly evident in 1863 when he distanced himself from Bismarck's repressive press policy in a speech to the magistrate and city councilors of Danzig , while at the same time expressing his trust in his father, King Wilhelm I, who had appointed the Prime Minister. The occasion was provided by Bismarck's so-called pressordonance, directed against the liberal press . When the Crown Prince was in Gdansk on the occasion of the christening of the warship SMS Vineta , he complained in his speech that he had to come to this beautiful city at a time when the government and the people had fallen out. Friedrich Wilhelm protested that he did not know anything about the regulation that led to it. He was absent and had no part in the advice that led to it. The speech, although moderate in tone, triggered demonstrations of sympathy from the liberals as well as in France and England, while in Prussia it was understood as insubordination, if not high treason. The Crown Prince defended his speech in a letter to his father. He did not want to take anything back, but would be silent. In a letter to Bismarck he wrote that he regarded those who steered the king in such directions as the most dangerous advisers for the crown and the country. As a result, Friedrich Wilhelm kept his promise of silence.

Austro-Prussian War

After Prussia invaded Holstein, which was administered by Austria , on June 9, 1866 , Austria applied to Frankfurt for the mobilization of the non-Prussian army , which was granted on June 14. Prussia responded with the invasion of Saxony , Hanover and Kurhessen - the beginning of the so-called German War . After that, Prussian units pushed further south until the Austrian army surrendered to the Prussian army at Königgrätz on July 3rd . Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke , an old friend of the Crown Prince, had decided to let the Prussian army march in three separate armies. First, the Elbarmee under the direction of Herwarth von Bittenfeld and the first army under the direction of Prince Friedrich Karl Nikolaus of Prussia opened the fighting against the Austrian army, which had taken position north of the Königgrätz Fortress. Despite high losses, the Prussian attacks were initially unable to achieve any notable successes, so that the 2nd Prussian Army under the leadership of the Crown Prince, who approached the battlefield in forced marches, played the decisive role. Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm decided to launch a flank attack on the imperial armed forces to relieve the two other Prussian armies. He succeeded in occupying the heights of Chlum , from where his artillery could open a devastating flank fire against the Austrian army. The defeat of Königgrätz ultimately forced Austria to surrender. In the peace treaty of August 23 in Prague, Austria left the German Confederation . Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Kurhessen, Nassau and Frankfurt were annexed by Prussia.

Franco-German War

In the Franco-Prussian War , the Crown Prince commanded the 3rd Army . In the early days of the war, the troops he led won the Battle of Weissenburg and the Battle of Wörth . In the Battle of Sedan his troops again played a decisive role. Until the end of the war, he and his army commanded part of the siege of Paris . Since then he has been considered a war hero in Germany and was appointed Field Marshal General. In 1871 he supported Bismarck in elevating his father to "German Emperor" after the latter had initially resisted due to domestic political considerations. He took part in the imperial proclamation in Versailles on January 18, 1871.

German Crown Prince

Friedrich as Crown Prince at the court ball in 1878 , painting by Anton von Werner , 1895
Friedrich was a guest at Villa Zirio in Sanremo

Since 1871 in the double role of "German Crown Prince and Crown Prince of Prussia", Friedrich Wilhelm was politically worn down by the longevity of his father and the permanent rule of Bismarck. Only after an assassination attempt on Wilhelm I did the Crown Prince temporarily manage the affairs of state in 1878, but was so cleverly outmaneuvered by Bismarck that he could not influence his politics. After this substitute semester, he was finally relegated to a powerless waiting position.

The painter Anton von Werner had a personal relationship with Friedrich since the Franco-German War. Werner later recalled the connection between Crown Prince Friedrich and the heads of the opposition to Bismarck in the adjacent painting Kaiser Friedrich as Crown Prince at the Court Ball in 1878 , the year of the reign. The picture shows the Crown Prince in the center of a separate group at the court ball in the Berlin Palace . On the far left, the National Liberal MP Robert von Benda , who was still an opponent of Bismarck's protective tariff policy in 1878, is listening to the conversation ; on the right, Ernst Curtius, the liberal-humanist teacher and friend of the Crown Prince. In the foreground of the group, Max von Forckenbeck , recognizable by the chain of office as the newly elected Lord Mayor of Berlin, a revolutionary from 1848 and co-founder of the German Progressive Party, is discussing . Their program in 1878 called for a stronger parliamentarization of the imperial constitution and a government accountable to parliament. Forckenbeck was already considered Friedrich's favorite to succeed Bismarck in 1866. Between Forckenbeck and the Crown Prince, in the red gown of the dean of the medical faculty, Rudolf von Virchow , a progressive and personal enemy of Bismarck, stands. “Forchow and Wirckenbeck”, as Bismarck mockingly called them, were considered to be the liberal whisperers of the Crown Prince. In the following years he removed her from the heir apparent. Between these and the Crown Prince stands the politically liberal physicist Hermann Helmholtz . On the right of the window, Adolph Menzel , whom Werner admired and watched by the painter Ludwig Knaus , registered the scene. Werner himself portrayed himself in the background to the right of Virchow.


Since January 1887, Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, a heavy smoker, increasingly suffered from hoarseness, but initially attributed it to a strenuous maneuver. The Berlin larynx specialist Carl Gerhardt , who was called in by Wegner's personal physician in March 1887 , finally discovered nodules on the left vocal cord, which they initially sought to remove in a torturous procedure. However, a tumor soon appeared again on the vocal cord. Like Gerhardt on May 15, the surgeon Ernst von Bergmann , who was also called in at Gerhardt's request, suspected a carcinoma on May 16, 1887 and recommended removal of the affected tissue by splitting the larynx . Otto von Bismarck intervened - according to Sinclair - at this point and made sure that the English laryngologist Morell Mackenzie - suggested by Wegner - was invited. The Berlin laryngologist Tobold, who was also questioned as a consultant, diagnosed cancer of the left vocal cord on May 18. The tissue sample that the English doctor Mackenzie took from the Crown Prince on May 21 and examined by Rudolf Virchow , however, did not clearly indicate cancer. Virchow's second report on the microscopic larynx findings from July 1, 1887 formulated "not the remotest evidence for the assumption of a new formation penetrating the tissue" and in his third report of January 29, 1888 Virchow had also written that he found no clear evidence of cancer to have. The Crown Prince couple traveled to England, where, with the consent of the German medical college, Morell Mackenzie was to continue his treatment. Gerhardt concluded in late May that Mackenzie may have taken a tissue sample from the right vocal cord. After Crown Prince Friedrich - relying on Mackenzie and contrary to the advice of Ernst von Bergmann and Carl Gerhardt - refused further fine-tissue diagnostics, he traveled via Toblach , Venice and Baveno to Sanremo , where he and Mackenzie hoped to ease his symptoms from the milder climate .

He found quarters in the Villa Zirio and was visited by his son Wilhelm . After Ernst von Bergmann and Carl Gerhardt were publicly defamed by Mackenzie, who like Wegner kept silent about the growth of the larynx tumor, Prince Wilhelm asked all doctors to come to his hotel room on November 10th. Apart from minor deviations, they came to the same diagnosis. One of them, the Viennese professor Leopold Schrötter von Kristelli , informed the patient about his condition, avoiding the word cancer and giving him the choice of extirpation or tracheotomy . Friedrich Wilhelm opted for the latter if necessary.

His condition temporarily improved until he had to struggle with attacks of suffocation on the night of February 8th to 9th, 1888. He now asked for the tracheotomy, which was carried out on February 9th under the most difficult conditions in the course of twenty minutes by Bergmann's senior physician Friedrich Gustav von Bramann . He could breathe again now, but was completely mute.

After the death of his father, Kaiser Wilhelm I , he was called back and arrived in Berlin two days later.

German emperor

20 Mark gold coin with the portrait of Frederick III.

When Friedrich Wilhelm became King of Prussia and thus German Emperor through the death of his father on March 9, 1888, he took, as already announced, his original nickname Friedrich . He was so seriously ill with throat cancer that he could no longer speak. His reign of only three months (“99-day emperor”) ended in the year of his accession to the throne and made 1888 the year of the three emperors with the accession of his son Wilhelm II (1888–1918) . Except for the last two weeks, he spent the short period of his reign in Charlottenburg Palace . The saying “Learn to suffer without complaining!” Was popularly attributed to him.

With the count as Friedrich  III. he had taken over the counting of the Prussian kings as emperor. He himself originally wanted to follow the tradition of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in connection with its Emperor Friedrich III. Friedrich IV. , But had to do without it after a constitutional instruction by Bismarck.

Because of his serious illness, Friedrich's plan to tie the power of the monarch and the Reich Chancellor more closely to the constitution could not be put into practice. Meanwhile, Friedrich's most important decision as Prussian king was the dismissal of the conservative Prussian interior minister Robert von Puttkamer as a result of the affair of his insubordinate interference in the Prussian state elections in 1885.

Death and burial

Marble sarcophagi of the emperor and empress

Friedrich III. received King Oskar of Sweden on June 13 , before he died two days later, on June 15, 1888, in the New Palace in Potsdam. His body was first buried on June 18 in the sacristy of the Friedenskirche . After the completion of the mausoleum , the inauguration of which took place on October 18, 1890, the deceased was reburied in the tomb of the mausoleum. The Berlin sculptor Reinhold Begas created the sarcophagus monument with the reclining figure of the emperor, which was set up in the rotunda of the mausoleum .

The English larynx specialist Morell Mackenzie is said to have known - according to his biographer R. Scott Stevenson - that in addition to throat cancer, Friedrich also had syphilis , which he contracted in 1869 from a Spanish woman he met when the Suez Canal was opened. But Mackenzie kept his knowledge to himself out of “loyalty” to the English Queen Victoria and her daughter Victoria , Friedrich's wife. Mackenzie's claim appeared in the French press as early as 1888 and was refuted in 1995 on the basis of the prince's travel route. Due to the course of Friedrich's illness, syphilis can also be largely disproved as the cause of death.


Friedrich III. in Masonic clothing

Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm was introduced to Freemasonry by his father in 1853 and was accepted into the Grand State Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany . At the same time he became an honorary member of the two other old Prussian grand lodges, the Great National Mother Lodge, “To the 3 World Globes” and the Great Lodge of Prussia called “Royal York for Friendship” . On June 18, 1860, he became Master of the Grand State Lodge and, from 1861, took over the protectorate of the three Grand Lodges in Berlin from his father. At the same time he became chairman of the grand master club. The Crown Prince worked intensively towards the unification of all Masonic bodies in Germany and aimed for a comprehensive reform of the Grand State Lodge, in which unsustainable connections to the Templar Order were to be removed from symbolism and ritual, which at that time were still accepted as historical facts. The reform should lead to the deletion of all ritual content that could not be historically proven by documents. In addition, the order should be restructured significantly in its higher grades in order to adapt it to the other German grand lodges. There was a dispute with the conservative brothers in the order, so that he resigned on March 7, 1874. The Templar legend as a historical fact was deleted, but the ritual and symbolic content was largely retained. But he remained the protector of the old Prussian grand lodges.


Kaiser Friedrich on the parade bed, The Gazebo (1888)

Friedrich III. was considered the "liberal hope" of Prussia and the German Empire after 1871, which was destroyed by his late accession to the throne and his untimely death ("Kaiser-Friedrich-Legende", compare Empress Friedrich , German Liberal Party and Franz August von Stauffenberg ). However, it is unclear how liberal the politics of this monarch, who wavered between Prussian military tradition and liberal views, would actually have been. Because of the poor state of health of the emperor and the resulting considerations, there were hardly any personnel changes, apart from Puttkamer's dismissal.

Rather, it must be assumed that there would have been no further liberalization of the empire, even if Friedrich had been granted a longer lifetime. He was neither a supporter of parliamentarianism , nor was he filled with a liberal belief in political progress . Even as Crown Prince he had shown himself to be a conservative constitutionalist who was not interested in further developing the imperial constitution - for example towards a stronger parliament. Liberal hopes were linked above all to his speech given in Danzig in 1863 , in which he distanced himself from the restrictions imposed on the (liberal) press, but he did so less out of concern in principle about freedom of the press , but rather because he was snubbed by the Parliament condemned these resolutions and feared an alienation between the ruling house and the population. (His father then forbade him to make any further statements of this kind.) When he was the deputy of his father, who was wounded in the second assassination attempt in 1878, he was convinced of the necessity of the Socialist Law passed that year , but made sure that it did not break the constitution. Friedrich described the anti-Semitism, which also emerged in Germany in the 19th century, as “a shame for Germany ”. After his death, the government and the liberals stylized the emperor as a representative of liberalism with which the German Reich could have become a liberal parliamentarism based on the British model - which is now considered a myth.

Friedrich believed that a ruler should never rule against popular opinion.

During his long time as Crown Prince, Friedrich Wilhelm - together with his wife Victoria - dedicated himself to promoting science, art and culture in Prussia. Among other things, he made a contribution to the expansion of Berlin's Museum Island . The Kaiser Friedrich Museum, which opened in 1904, was named in his honor . During the GDR era , the Minister of Culture, Johannes R. Becher, named it after its founder and first director, Wilhelm von Bode .


Crown Prince Friedrich and Crown Princess Victoria with their eldest children Wilhelm and Charlotte (painting by Winterhalter, 1862)

Friedrich III. was married to Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland , Princess of Great Britain and Ireland .

Dynastic connections


Pedigree of Friedrich III. (German Empire)

Karl zu Mecklenburg (1708–1752)
⚭ 1735
Elisabeth Albertine of Saxony-Hildburghausen (1713–1761)

Georg Wilhelm of Hessen-Darmstadt (1722–1782)
⚭ 1748
Maria Luise Albertine zu Leiningen-Dagsburg-Falkenburg (1729–1818)

August Wilhelm of Prussia (1722–1758)
⚭ 1742
Luise Amalie von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1722–1780)

Ludwig IX. von Hessen-Darmstadt (1719–1790)
⚭ 1741
Henriette Karoline von Pfalz-Zweibrücken (1721–1774)

Ernst August II of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1737–1758)
⚭ 1756
Anna Amalia of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1739–1807)

Ludwig IX. von Hessen-Darmstadt (1719–1790)
⚭ 1741
Henriette Karoline von Pfalz-Zweibrücken (1721–1774)

Peter III of Russia (1728–1762)
⚭ 1745
Catherine II of Russia (1729–1796)

Friedrich Eugen (Württemberg) (1732–1797)
⚭ 1753
Friederike Dorothea Sophia of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1736–1798)

Great grandparents

Grand Duke
Charles II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1741–1816)
⚭ 1768
Friederike Caroline Luise of Hessen-Darmstadt (1752–1782)

Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia (1744–1797)
⚭ 1769
Friederike von Hessen-Darmstadt (1751–1805)

Grand Duke
Carl August von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1757–1828)
⚭ 1775
Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt (1757–1830)

Paul I of Russia (1754–1801)
⚭ 1776
Sophie Dorothee von Württemberg (1759–1828)


King Friedrich Wilhelm III. von Prussia (1770–1840)
⚭ 1793
Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1776–1810)

Grand Duke Karl Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1783-1853)
⚭ 1804
Grand Duchess Maria Pawlowna Romanowa (1786-1859)


Kaiser Wilhelm I (1797–1888)
⚭ 1829
Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1811–1890)

Emperor Friedrich III. (German Empire) (1831–1888)


Franz (Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld)
Auguste Reuss zu Ebersdorf
King George III
Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
August (Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg)
Luise Charlotte zu Mecklenburg
Franz (Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld)
Auguste Reuss zu Ebersdorf
Friederike Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt
King Friedrich Wilhelm II.
Duke Karl II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Duchess Friederike Caroline Luise
Grand Duke Carl August von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach
Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt
Tsar Paul I.
Tsarina Maria Feodorovna
Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Luise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Ernst I. (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
King Friedrich Wilhelm III.
Queen Luise
Grand Duke Carl Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna
Queen Victoria of Great Britain
Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
King Friedrich Wilhelm IV.
Kaiser Wilhelm I.
Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna
Empress Augusta
Empress Victoria
Emperor Friedrich III.
Kaiser Wilhelm II


Remembrance and honors (incomplete lists)

Equestrian statue in front of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum on the Monbijou Bridge in Berlin, 1905



An honor to Frederick III. as emperor by a monument opposed that he had ruled only 99 days. In 1889, the Chancellor and Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck only recommended such an honor if it was preceded by Kaiser Wilhelm I on site or if it had a recognizable reference to his role as general in the wars of unification .

Friedrich III statue in Bremen

Memory in literature

Thomas Mann created a dubious monument for him in the Zauberberg , in the quiet, more reactive than acting Joachim Ziemßen, the cousin of the protagonist Hans Castorp (he named Joachim after the emperor's biographer Ludwig Ziemssen). In 1970 ZDF broadcast the biopic “Friedrich III. 'Died as emperor' ”from Rudolf Nussgruber .


  • Heinrich Otto Meisner (Ed.): Kaiser Friedrich III. Diaries from 1848 to 1866. Leipzig 1929.
  • Heinrich Otto Meisner (Ed.): Kaiser Friedrich III. The war diary of 1870/71. Berlin / Leipzig 1926.
  • Hans Rothfels (ed.): Diary of my trip to the Orient in 1869. Report by the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm about his trip to the inauguration of the Suez Canal. Frankfurt am Main 1971.
  • Winfried Baumgart (Ed.): Kaiser Friedrich III. Diaries 1866–1888. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2012, ISBN 978-3-506-77384-5


  • Michael Freund : The drama of the 99 days. Illness and death of Friedrich III. Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Cologne / Berlin 1966.
  • Gustav von Glasenapp : Military Biographies of the Officer Corps of the Prussian Army. Berlin 1868, p. 57.
  • Franz Herre : Emperor Friedrich III. Germany's liberal hope. A biography. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1987, ISBN 3-421-06370-2 .
  • Hans-Christof Kraus: Friedrich III. In: Frank-Lothar Kroll (Hrsg.): Prussia's rulers. From the first Hohenzollern to Wilhelm II. CH Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-46711-3 , pp. 265–289.
  • Heinrich Otto Meisner:  Friedrich III. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , pp. 487-489 ( digitized version ).
  • Frank Lorenz Müller : The 99-day emperor. Friedrich III. of Prussia - prince, monarch, myth. Siedler, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-8275-0017-5 .
  • Hermann Müller-Bohn: Our Fritz, German Emperor and King of Prussia. A picture of life. Published by Paul Kittel, Berlin 1889
  • Hermann Müller-Bohn:  Friedrich III . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 49, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1904, pp. 1-93.
  • Heinz Ohff : Prussia's kings. Piper, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-492-04055-1 .
  • Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm . Phoenix, London 1997, ISBN 1-84212-623-7 .
  • Werner Richter : Friedrich III. Life and tragedy of the second Hohenzollern emperor , 2nd edition, Bruckmann, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-7654-1794-7
  • Katrin Wehry: Emperor Friedrich III. (1831–1888) as protector of the Royal Museums. Sketch of a new cultural policy. In: Yearbook of the Berlin Museums NF, supplement to 54, 2012. Mann, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-7861-2701-7 .
  • Hans-Joachim Wolf: The illness of Friedrich III. and its effect on the English and German public , Berliner Medizinische Verlags-Anstalt, Berlin 1958.
  • The illness of Emperor Friedrich the Third presented according to official sources and the reports of the doctors Bardeleben, v. Bergmann, Bramann, Gerhardt, Kussmaul, Landgraf, Moritz Schmidt, Schrötter, Tobold, Waldeyer. Berlin 1888; Reprinted in: HNO-Information 12, 1987, pp. 28-131.

Web links

Commons : Friedrich III.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Friedrich III. (German Empire)  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 11.
  2. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 12.
  3. Ludwig Ziemssen : Friedrich. German Emperor and King of Prussia. A picture of life . Lipperheide, Berlin 1888, p. 138, footn.
  4. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 13.
  5. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 14.
  6. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 15.
  7. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 15.
  8. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 23.
  9. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 94.
  10. Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. Phoenix, London 1997, ISBN 1-84212-623-7 , p. 30.
  11. ^ Sinclair, p. 35 f. And Franz Herre , Kaiserin Friedrich - Victoria, an Englishwoman in Germany , Hohenheim Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-89850-142-6 , p. 32 f.
  12. Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm . Phoenix, London 1997, ISBN 1-84212-623-7 , p. 31.
  13. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day emperor. Pp. 27 and 29.
  14. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day emperor. P. 27.
  15. ^ Neumann: Friedrich III. - The 99-day Kaiser , p. 43.
  16. Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empires Frederick , p. 43.
  17. Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador and Arndt Mersmann (eds.): Queen Victoria - A biographical reading book from her letters and diaries. Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-12846-1 , pp. 103-106.
  18. Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empires Frederick , p. 52.
  19. ^ Franz Herre : Kaiserin Friedrich - Victoria, an Englishwoman in Germany. Hohenheim Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-89850-142-6 , p. 41.
  20. Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empires Frederick , pp. 26, 27 and Kollander, p. 6.
  21. Patricia Kolander: Frederick III - Germany's Liberal Emperor. Greenwood Press, Westport 1995, ISBN 0-313-29483-6 , pp. 7 f.
  22. Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empires Frederick , p. 90.
  23. Sinclair, pp. 51 f., 58
  24. Friedrich III. 1831-1888
  25. ^ S. Fischer-Fabian: Magnificent times. The Germans and their Empire , Munich 1986, paperback edition Lübbe GmbH & Co. KG., Bergisch Gladbach 2005, p. 25 f.
  26. Theodor Toeche-Mittler: The imperial proclamation in Versailles on January 18, 1871 with a directory of the festival participants . Ernst Siegfried Mittler and Son, Berlin 1896.
  27. H. Schnaebeli: photographs of the imperial proclamation in Versailles , Berlin 1871st
  28. ^ So Ernst Engelberg: Bismarck. The empire in the middle of Europe , Siedler Verlag, ISBN 3-88680-385-6 , Berlin 1990, p. 518, there also the quotation with proof
  29. ^ Joachim Gerlach and Gundolf Keil : The throat cancer of Emperor Friedrich III. In: Würzburger medical historical reports 6, 1988, pp. 267–291, here p. 276.
  30. Gerlach / Keil (1988), p. 277.
  31. ^ Sinclair, p. 285.
  32. Gerlach / Keil (1988), p. 277 f.
  33. ^ Franz Herre : Kaiserin Friedrich - Victoria, an Englishwoman in Germany. Hohenheim Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-89850-142-6 , p. 243.
  34. Virchow's second report on the microscopic findings in the larynx during the illness of Kaiser Friedrich. and Virchow's third report. In: Hellmuth Unger : Virchow. A life dedicated to research. Hoffmann and Campe Verlag, Hamburg 1953, pp. 308-311.
  35. ^ Hannah Pakula: An Uncommon Woman - The Empires Frederick , p. 480.
  36. Gerlach / Keil (1988), p. 278 f.
  37. Gerlach / Keil (1988), p. 279.
  38. Gerlach / Keil (1988), p. 280 f.
  39. S. Fischer-Fabian: Herrliche Zeiten , 1986 by Verlagsgruppe Lübbe GmbH & Co. KG, Bergisch Gladbach, new edition Bastei Lübbe paperback volume 64206, March 2005, pp. 184-185.
  40. Ludwig Ziemssen: Friedrich. German Emperor and King of Prussia. A picture of life . Lipperheide, Berlin 1888, p. 138, footn.
  41. ^ John CG Röhl: Wilhelm II. P. 784/85.
  42. Kollander, p. 147.
  43. ^ Karl Erich Born: Prussia in the German Empire 1871-1918. Leading power of the empire and absorption in the empire. In: Wolfgang Neugebauer (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Prussischen Geschichte. Vol. III: From the Empire to the 20th Century and Major Topics in the History of Prussia, De Gruyter, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-11-014092-6 , p. 111.
  44. ^ Hermann Müller-Bohn:  Friedrich III . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 49, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1904, pp. 1-93.
  45. RS Stevenson: Morell Mackenzie. London 1949.
  46. Dr. Mackenzie's Secret , in: Der Spiegel , No. 19, 1947.
  47. ^ Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia: Suez and syphilis. Un canard dévoilé , in: The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, Vol. 109, Issue 6 (June 1995), pp. 479-480.
  48. Gerlach / Keil (1988), p. 284.
  49. Lennhoff / Posner p. 711.
  50. ^ Frank Lorenz Müller: Our Fritz. Emperor Frederick III and the Political Culture of Imperial Germany . Cambridge / London 2011.
  51. ^ Frank Lorenz Müller: Our Fritz. Emperor Frederick III and the Political Culture of Imperial Germany . Cambridge / London 2011.
  52. ^ Andreas Dorpalen: Emperor Frederick III and the German Liberal Movement . In: American Historical Association (Ed.): The American Historical Review . 54, No. 1, October 1948, p. 11. doi : 10.2307 / 1841754 .
  53. ^ Hans J. Reichardt et al .; Landesarchiv Berlin (edit): Berlin. Chronicle of the years 1955–1956. Spitzing, Berlin 1971, p. 438.
  54. Hermann Hengst: The Knights of the Black Eagle Order. Verlag Alexander Duncker, Berlin 1901, pp. 249-250.
  55. ^ Anton Frans Karl Anjou: Riddare af Konung Carl XIII: s orden 1811-1900. Biografiska anteckningar. Eskjö 1900, p. 176.
  56. ^ Rudolf von Kramer and Otto Freiherr von Waldenfels: VIRTUTI PRO PATRIA - The Royal Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order, War Deeds and Book of Honor 1914–1918 , self-published by the Royal Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order, Munich 1966, p. 444.
  57. ^ Andree Schulte: Bergisch Gladbach, city history in street names . Ed .: Stadtarchiv Bergisch Gladbach and Bergischer Geschichtsverein Department Rhein-Berg e. V. Band 3 . Bergisch Gladbach 1995, ISBN 3-9804448-0-5 .
  58. Erik Schlicht: Zellerau street names of military origin. In: Friedrich-Koenig-Gymnasium Würzburg. Annual report 1978/79. Würzburg 1979, pp. 125–127 (from the material appendix to the specialist work The decisive years of German history 1866 and 1870/71 as reflected in the history of the Ninth Infantry Regiment in Würzburg ), here: p. 126.
  59. Reinhard Alings: Monument and Nation. The image of the nation state in the monument medium. On the relationship between nation and state in the German Empire, 1871–1918. (= Contributions to the History of Communication , Volume 4.) de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1996, ISBN 3-11-014985-0 , p. 83 f.
  60. Landeskonservator Rheinland (ed.), Hans Königs , Volker Osteneck: List of monuments 1.1, Aachen city center with Frankenberg quarter Rheinland Verlag, Cologne 1977, p. 32.
  61. Fulda 1900–1910: Building boom and cathedral in flames . Article in the Fuldaer Zeitung from February 21, 2016
  62. ^ Winfried Baumgart Frank Lorenz Müller: Der 99-Tage-Kaiser Review, Sehepunkte , Issue 13 (2013), No. 6; Norman Domeier: FL Müller: Our Fritz review at Hsozkult , September 9, 2013.
predecessor Office successor
Wilhelm I. King of Prussia
Wilhelm II.
Wilhelm I. German Emperor
Wilhelm II.