Heinrich of Prussia (1862–1929)

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Heinrich of Prussia, 1911

Albert Wilhelm Heinrich von Prussia (born August 14, 1862 in Potsdam ; † April 20, 1929 in Hemmelmark ) was a younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Grand Admiral and Inspector General of the Imperial Navy .

Early life

Albert Wilhelm Heinrich von Prussia was a son of the future Emperor Friedrich III. and grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm I. His mother, Empress Victoria , was the eldest daughter of the British Queen Victoria . Heinrich was the younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

In childhood Heinrich found it difficult to meet the high demands of his mother. Like his brother Wilhelm and his sister Charlotte , he had a bad position with his parents. Empress Victoria wrote about it in a letter to her mother: "He is terribly lagging behind in everything ... is hopelessly lazy - boring and sluggish in his school lessons."

Heinrich's enthusiasm for the navy was encouraged early on. A ship's mast with sails and rope ladders was erected in the park of the New Palace in Potsdam . Heinrich was able to practice there and was trained by a sailor.


Prince and Princess Heinrich of Prussia with their sons, 1900

On May 24, 1888, he married his cousin Princess Irene von Hessen-Darmstadt . She was a sister of the Russian Tsarina Alexandra and like her the carrier of hemophilia . The city of Kiel gave them the Kiliabrunnen for their wedding. After Heinrich's granddaughter Barbara had given the figure back to the city, it was put up again in 1977. The marriage produced three sons:

  • Waldemar (1889–1945) ⚭ 1919 Calixta zu Lippe-Detmold
  • Sigismund (1896–1978) ⚭ 1919 Charlotte Agnes von Sachsen-Altenburg
  • Heinrich Viktor Ludwig Friedrich (1900–1904)

Two sons inherited haemophilia . Heinrich died of their consequences at the age of four. Waldemar succumbed to her shortly before the end of World War II when there were no blood supplies.

Outside of his marriage, Prince Heinrich of Prussia had two sons with the Hungarian singer Julie Salinger .

Military career

The young Prince Heinrich in 1879 with his honorary companion in Japan
Heinrich of Prussia as Grand Admiral

After attending the Friedrichsgymnasium in Kassel, which he left in 1877 with the secondary school leaving certificate, Heinrich joined the Imperial Navy at the age of 15. The training to become a naval officer included a two-year trip around the world (1878/80), the main naval officer examination on October 1, 1880 and in 1884/86 a visit to the naval academy and school , which, in addition to the actual service, had to be completed in the winter months.

As part of the world tour from 1878 to 1880, Heinrich visited the Japanese Empire for a year . The Tennō granted him several audiences . A hunting incident occurred in Suita near Osaka when Heinrich, traveling incognito, was arrested and locked in the prefectural prison for one night. A book for young people reports on the world trip: Prince Heinrich of Prussia's circumnavigation of the world . The historical archive of the Japanese Foreign Ministry ( Gaimushô Gaikô Shiryôkan ) contains a meticulous multi-volume documentation of Prince Heinrich's visit. Heinrich visited Japan two more times, in 1900 and for the last time in 1912 for the funeral ceremonies of Emperor Meiji .

Heinrich commanded several warships, including a torpedo boat and the 1st torpedo boat division in 1887 , the imperial yacht Hohenzollern in 1888, the second class cruiser Irene in 1889/90 , the coastal armored ship Beowulf in 1892 , the armored ship Sachsen until 1894 and then the modern Wörth until September 1895 . From 1897 Heinrich was the leader of several ship formations, including the 2nd Division of the Cruiser Squadron , which was set up at the end of 1897 and was sent to East Asia for reinforcement after the occupation of the Tsingtau port and the troubled situation in China . On the American side, the impression arose that the Germans had interests in the Philippines .

Heinrich's successes were more of a diplomatic nature: he was the first European prince from a ruling house to ever be received at the Chinese imperial court. Heinrich asked his brother to extend his deployment in East Asia and in 1899 became the commander of the cruiser squadron. In January 1900 he gave up command of the squadron and returned to Europe. In autumn he became commander of the 1st squadron and in 1903 he became chief of the naval station in the Baltic Sea . From 1906 to 1909 Heinrich was head of the deep sea fleet . In 1909 he was promoted to Grand Admiral and, as the successor to Grand Admiral Hans von Koester, Inspector General of the Navy.

Heinrich von Preußen (center of picture in naval uniform) in Santiago de Chile in April 1914 on the occasion of the visit of the detached division in Chile

At the beginning of the First World War Heinrich was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Sea Forces, a new position created at the beginning of the war. Although the funds made available to him were out of date and far inferior to those of the Russian Baltic Fleet , he succeeded in largely putting the Russian naval forces on the defensive until the revolution of 1917 and preventing them from attacking the German coast. After the end of the fighting with Russia , his task ceased and Heinrich effectively withdrew from active service. With the end of the war and the November Revolution, Heinrich retired from the Navy. He openly opposed the revolution of 1918, but feared for the well-being of his family and fled Kiel with them in his own motor vehicle.

Honorary positions and offices

Heinrich was the boss and namesake of the Fusilier Regiment "Prince Heinrich of Prussia" (Brandenburgisches) No. 35 of the Prussian Army and of the 8th field artillery regiment "Prince Heinrich of Prussia" of the Bavarian Army . He was also a colonel in the Kuk Infantry Regiment No. 20 .

From 1898 until his death in 1929, Prince Heinrich was the protector of the German Fleet Association , the national propaganda association with the largest number of members in the German Empire. At the behest of his brother, he had taken on this post, as it were, as his deputy, without showing too much interest in the association itself - purely representative tasks were not suited to him.

The Prinz-Heinrichs-Gymnasium in Berlin, which opened in 1893, was named after him.

Personality and personal life

Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hessen-Darmstadt with his sisters and brothers-in-law (from left) on October 8, 1903: Tsarina Alexandra Feodorowna and Tsar Nikolaus ll. from Russia ; Princess Irene and Prince Heinrich of Prussia; Grand Duchess Jelisavjeta Fyodorovna and Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov ; Princess Viktoria and Prince Ludwig Alexander von Battenberg

Heinrich had little in common with his brother Wilhelm. In particular, he lacked the volatility and the need for recognition of the emperor. He was quite popular in northern Germany and loved by his soldiers because of his humble and open nature. On trips abroad he was a good diplomat who, unlike his brother, hit the right tone. On two trips to the USA , in 1896 and on the occasion of the globally recognized christening of the Kaiser-Yacht Meteor III in 1902, he succeeded in winning the sympathy of the critical American press and not only the hearts of the German-Americans who were still numerous at the time.

Prince Heinrich with his wife Irene around 1900

As a naval officer, he had found a job that completely filled him and that he loved. Heinrich was a practitioner through and through and was considered an excellent seaman. In addition to golf and polo , sailing was one of his favorite activities, which he pursued at the Imperial Yacht Club as a club vice-commodore. One of his racing sailboats was the Irene , which was named after his wife.

KYC - Imperial Yacht Club Dinnerware - Honi soit qui mal y pense - "Irene" with the monogram of the Hohenzollern Prince Heinrich of Prussia

In 1909 he donated the Deutschland-Schild , a challenge prize for the soccer championship of the German Imperial Navy . He was also very open to modern technology and was able to quickly assess the practical value of technical innovations. He urged the use of submarines and aircraft at an early stage .

On September 23, 1903, he took part in a test drive of the first operational submarine trout manufactured in the German Reich , which he sometimes steered under water himself. He then asked State Secretary Tirpitz to inspect the test boat, which could not become a weapon, but was already a weapon. On November 19, 1910, Prince Heinrich also acquired August Euler 's "Flugmaschinenführer - certificate" No. 38 from August Euler at the Griesheim airfield near Darmstadt . He was therefore one of the Old Eagles . At 48 he was the oldest certified pilot in the world. Because of France's international leadership in aviation and Germany's backlog in the same, Heinrich called for national air donations in April 1912 in order to advance aircraft construction, aircraft engine construction, the training of flight students and aviation research in Germany. From the incoming millions, German aviation was able to achieve world-class aircraft standards by 1914. In the Baltic Sea he had steamers converted into aircraft mother ships for use by naval pilots against Russia during World War I.

In 1912, Prince Heinrich successfully advocated the use of benzene , which was extracted from German hard coal, as a substitute for gasoline from imported oil, as a fuel for engines and motor vehicles.

Heinrich adored his brother, but he did not reciprocate this affection to the same extent. He kept the younger brother out of politics, although the latter acted as his deputy as long as Crown Prince Wilhelm was not of legal age. That was a good thing for Heinrich, because he wasn't interested in politics or great strategy.

During his time in Kiel he lived in Kiel Castle , after the revolution Heinrich lived with his family on Gut Hemmelmark near Eckernförde . He continued to pursue motor sports and sailing and was still a very successful regatta sailor in old age. In his honor, the " Prince Heinrich trip " was organized. Still known and popular with older sailors is the Prince Heinrich hat that he made popular . At the same time, Heinrich dedicated himself privately to motor racing, which he also practiced himself.

In 1905 Heinrich applied for a patent (DRP 204.343) for a hand-operated windshield wiper device he had invented on “motor vehicles”.

The mausoleum on Gut Hemmelmark (near Eckernförde)

Like his father, a heavy smoker, Heinrich died of throat cancer . He was buried in a mausoleum built on a barrow on his Hemmelmark estate . Part of his estate is in the International Maritime Museum Hamburg .



Pedigree of Heinrich of Prussia
Old parents

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

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

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

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

August von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg (1772–1822)
⚭ 1797
Luise Charlotte zu Mecklenburg (1779–1801)

Franz von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld (1750–1806)
⚭ 1777
Auguste Reuss zu Ebersdorf (1757–1831)

George III (United Kingdom) (1738–1820)
⚭ 1761
Sophie Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744–1818)

Great grandparents

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)

Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1784–1844)
⚭ 1817
Luise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1800–1831)

Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820)
⚭ 1818
Victoria von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld (1786–1861)


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

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819–1861)
⚭ 1840
Queen Victoria (1819–1901)


Emperor Friedrich III. (1831–1888)
⚭ 1858
Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland (1840–1901)

Heinrich of Prussia (1862–1929)


  • Barbara Beck: Wilhelm II and his siblings. Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-7917-2750-9 .
  • Rainer Hering / Christina Schmidt (eds.): Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Grand Admiral, Kaiserbrother, technology pioneer. Wachholtz, Neumünster 2013. ISBN 978-3-529-06100-4 .
  • Sebastian Diziol: 'Germans, become members of the fatherland!' The German Naval Association 1898-1934. Solivagus Praeteritum, Kiel 2015, ISBN 978-3-9817079-0-8 , pp. 402-424.
  • G. von Arnauld de la Perière / Ilse Essers : Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Admiral and aviator. Koehler Verlag, Herford 1983. ISBN 978-3-7822-0285-5 .
  • Harald Eschenburg: Prince Heinrich of Prussia. The Grand Admiral in the Emperor's shadow. Westholsteinische Verlagsanstalt Boyens, Heide 1989, ISBN 3-8042-0456-2 .
  • Karin Feuerstein-Prasser: The German Empresses. Piper Verlag, Munich / Zurich 2006, ISBN 978-3-492-25296-6 .
  • Michael Knoll: A mysterious visit. Prince Heinrich of Prussia at John Dewey's Laboratory School in Chicago . In: Pädagogische Rundschau , 65, 2011, pp. 561–575.
  • Ernst Dietrich Baron v. Mirbach: Prince Heinrich of Prussia. A biography of the Kaiserbrother. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21081-6 .
  • Peter Pantzer , Sven Saaler: Japanese impressions of an imperial envoy. Karl von Eisendecher in Japan during the Meiji period. / 明治 初期 の 日本 - ド イ ツ 外交官 ア イ ゼ ン デ ッ ヒ ャ ー 公使 の 写真 帖 よ り Iudicium, Munich / OAG, Tokyo 2007, ISBN 978-3-89129-930-2 (German, Japanese).
  • Rolf-Harald Wippich: Prince Heinrich's stay in Japan in 1879/80 and the Suita hunting incident. In: Thomas Beck et al. (Ed.): Überseegeschichte. Contributions from recent research. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-515-07490-2 , pp. 267-275 (= contributions to colonial and overseas history, volume 75).
  • Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon . 11th edition. FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1911 ( zeno.org [accessed on October 8, 2018] Lexicon entry "Heinrich, Prinz von Prußen").

Web links

Commons : Heinrich von Preußen  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Heinrich von Preußen on Preussen.de ( Memento of the original from December 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.preussen.de
  2. ^ Salinger, Julie. In: Theresienstadt 1941–1945. A reference work. Online publication, ed. v. Kulturverein Schwarzer Hahn e. V .; consulted on May 1, 2017.
  3. Prince Heinrich of Prussia's circumnavigation of the world. Original story for the youth by CV Derboeck [recte: Carl von der Boeck]. Leipzig: Otto Drewitz successor, 11th edition, ca.1900 .
  4. Gaimushô Gaikô Shiryôkan, Gaimushô Kiroku , (Volumes 1 to 3) Gaikoku kihin no raichô kankei zakken, Dokkoku no bu, Dokkoku Aruberuto Uiruherumu Hainrihi Shin'ô raiyû no ken; Dokkoku kôson raikôsettai-ki .
  5. Sebastian Diziol: "Germans, become members of the fatherland!" The German Naval Association 1898-1934. Solivagus Praeteritum, Kiel 2015, pp. 402–424. ISBN 978-3-9817079-0-8 .
  6. Germany's Football - The Lexicon. Published by the DFB and Sportverlag Berlin, 1st edition 2000, p. 504.
  7. Eberhard Rössler: German UBoote 1898–1918. Berlin, ES Mittler & Sohn ISBN 978-3-8132-0926-6 p. 14
  8. Flugsport , Volume II, No. 23, December 7, 1910, p. 755.
  9. G. von Arnauld de la Perière, Ilse Essers: Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Admiral and aviator. Koehler Verlag, Herford 1983, ISBN 978-3-7822-0285-5 , pp. 56-59.
  10. G. von Arnauld de la Perière / Ilse Essers: Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Admiral and aviator. Koehler Verlag, Herford 1983, ISBN 978-3-7822-0285-5 , pages 60-62.
  11. G. von Arnauld de la Perière / Ilse Essers: Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Admiral and aviator. Koehler Verlag, Herford 1983, ISBN 978-3-7822-0285-5 , p. 52.
  12. ^ Harald Eschenburg: Prince Heinrich of Prussia - The Grand Admiral in the Emperor's Shadow. Heide 1989, ISBN 3-8042-0456-2 .
  13. Matthias Gretzschel: In the beginning there was the ship. The International Maritime Museum in Hamburg. Its founder and founder Peter Tamm . Koehler , Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7822-1055-3 , pp. 32 .
  14. Kösener Corpslisten 1930, 81/527