Huis Doorn
Huis Doorn (Doorn Manor) is a small manor house that lies outside Doorn, a small town near Utrecht, the Netherlands. The 15th-century house was radically rebuilt in the late 18th century in a conservative taste, then redecorated in the mid-19th century, when the surrounding park was laid out as an English landscape garden. Baroness Ella van Heemstra (1900 – 1984), the mother of actress Audrey Hepburn, spent most of her childhood living in the house. The house was purchased in 1919 by Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor, as his residence-in-exile (1920-1941) after World War I. During his years in exile the former emperor kept in shape by sawing down the estate's trees by the tens of thousands over the years and splitting the logs into vast stacks of firewood, denuding the matured landscape. Hence he was termed by his enemies the 'woodchopper of Doorn'. The Dutch government seized the manor house and its household effects in 1945 as German property. Many new trees were planted, so that after 65 years the wooded parkland is recovering. 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 out 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. A happier occasion occurred in 1938 when his grandson, Prince Louis Ferdinand was married to Grand Duchess Kira of Russia in Huis Doorn. Wilhelm died at Huis Doorn, June 4, 1941, with the Nazi German occupation soldier on guard at the gates of the estate. He is buried in a small mausoleum in the gardens, awaiting his return to Germany upon the restoration of the Prussian monarchy, according to the terms of his will; his wish that no swastikas be displayed at his funeral was not heeded. He did however refuse to have a grand funeral in Berlin which considerably frustrated Hitler who had wanted to walk behind Wilhelm's coffin as his presumed natural successor. The house is open as a museum, 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 as the most interesting collections. Five of Wilhelm's beloved dachshunds are buried in the park. A stone is dedicated to the memory of Senta who accompanied the Kaiser during all of World War I and died in 1927 at age 20. 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.


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