Author Topic: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)  (Read 136822 times)

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Offline sydguy71

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Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« on: May 06, 2005, 06:16:32 AM »
Hello,
Can anyone recommend a book that covers the later years of Dona. I am especially interested in the years of WW1 till her death. Any info would be greatly appreciated

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2005, 09:06:21 AM »
Because she led a fairly uneventful life herself, any information on her is usually found in bios about Wilhelm II. Lamar Cecil published a huge 2 volume work and the 2nd one focused on the period from about 1900 (I think) until the end.  
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Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2005, 04:14:51 PM »
Dona was in many ways a somewhat pathetic figure. She must have started off her life as the wife of the future Kaiser with a huge inferiority complex due to the general attitude (especially as verbalized by Queen Victoria) that she was not so suitable for Willy. Perhaps as as result, she appeared a bit hauty and was not very kind or accomdating to her mother in law, Vicky.

She found herself frequently under great stress in trying to keep Wilhelm calm and his distractors at bay. In fact, during some of the most crucial moments prior to WWI, she screened people from seeing the Kaiser and some important decisions and timing were lost.

The war weighed on her immensely. She had come to a position of great power and wealth and the fear of losing it and then the reality of having lost it was too much for her to bear. Soon after the confligration, she died of, in my opinion, a very broken heart and lack of will to live.
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2005, 07:00:08 PM »
Dona just annoys me to no end (usually).  :-/  Perhaps because she was _very_ unkind to my 2nd favorite (Vicky) and was not the wife that Willy originally wanted (Ella). I just think Ella would've been such a greater helpmate. Dona was just disastrous in feeding his ego and never standing up to him. Mostly it's because of her treatment of Vicky though--she could just be downright cruel to her. In the beginning it could've been shyness but within too many years Dona realized that she would soon be 'above' Vicky and proceeded to act as such. It especially enrages me as Vicky was the one who _fought_ for her when the Hohenzollerns looked down on her as a match. Dona's father had been her and Fritz's great friend and if Dona had had more character or a kindlier one Vicky's life could've been so much easier. I mean Vicky soured her relations with the Court and the Bismarckians ever further to 'go to bat' for Willy & Dona and what was her repayment? Decades of slights and rebuffs.

I think Dona totally couldn't adjust the her new situation. She'd never been overly concerned with the wealth of her position (she frowned on too much fashion or style in dress or jewels) but she had taken pride in it and had trouble adjusting. You'd think she may have been happier--Wilhelm ironically dealth with the exile _much_ better. She would've had him more to herself than ever, been a comfort and helpmate, could've led a simpler life. Also I think she just really missed Germany--I don't think she herself was prohibited from returning, but she wouldn't have gone without Wilhelm. I think the major blow was the suicide of her youngest, and favorite, son Joachim. She died not too many months after that.
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2005, 11:55:34 AM »
Here's what I've gleaned so far:

--towards the end of the war she suffered a mild heart attack (and possible mild stroke); since she and Wilhelm were in different area after the abdication was announced he had to leave for the Netherlands w/o her (his son Eitel Fritz had telegrammed that she was well) as it was imperative to leave when he did
--recovering and w/Wilhelm in the Netherlands she didn't leave the Neue Palais (Victoria Louise was with her) even though EF tried to get her to come w/him to villa Ingenheim and out of Berlin; Dona's main concern (as always) was with Wilhelm and the fact that he was 'alone in his misfortune'; she was naturally anxious to join him
--in less than 2 weeks she was able to; escorted by soldiers from EF's regiment (dressed as civilians) she joined Wilhelm in Amerongen on 28 Nov (the same day he officially signed his abidcation document)
--stress over calls for Wilhelm's trial as a war criminal (rather tepidly supported by Lloyd George but adamantly opposed by George V) added to her troubles though Wilhelm himself seemed unconcerned; 'increasingly inclined to trust no race but her own, she was sure her husband's life was in danger' and spent a good deal of time weeping. Dona belived that the forces of evil had won and that, eventually, someone would swoop in and snatch him and he would share the Tsar's fate. By December her fears were such that she wrote a farewell letter to their children (I guess figuring she would share in his imprisonment or worse rather than be separated?)
--in March 1920 they moved to Doorn; the Kaiser adjusted remarkably well--his famous moustache grew out and greyed and he grew a beard;dressed as an English gentleman; he puttered around the garden, took walks, had teas, read, etc... He seems to have almost flourished away from being 'Kaiser' while his wife worried and seemed to have no more purpose. Of course the Kaiser was aided in his peace of mind by the fact that he was able to lay the blame for every trial and misfortune on someone else's shoulders and none on himself--he even blamed the German people for casting him aside and took a rather 'grim satisfaction' in the harshness of the treaty of Versailles as a reward for disloyalty.
--not long after their Doorn arrival, Joachim and the Crown Prince visited and it was not a good situation. The Kaiser was irritated (as usual) by his sons while Dona was distressed at this disunion (which ruined the reunion she'd so longed for) and by the increasing rift between father and eldest son and father and youngest son.  The Kaiser was especially disgusted with Joachim's carousing and heavy gambling and laid a good part of blame on the influence of the Crown Prince. Disillusioned by the aftermath of the war, in debt, estranged from his wife, Joachim returned to Germany and less than a month later he shot himself.
--As J. had been her favorite, Dona was told it was a hunting accident but it seemed she knew the truth and 'was never the same again' though she seemed outwardly calm. Her health began to worsen. Already at Amerongen she had been uanble to walk very far unaided. Now she became weaker and apathetic and was mostly confined to her wheelchair. (Reminiscent of Empress Alexandra w/her heart troubles) She had trouble sleeping and once, when her son Auwi was looking over her, she called out goodbye to her children. The family feared she didn't have long but she remarkably hung on for a few more months
--By Feb 1921 when she and Wilhelm had their 40th wedding anniversary. In April, with Wilhelm and their son Adalbert at her side, she slipped into a coma and passed away. She had left a requst to be buried in Germany which the government allowed as long as Wilhelm didn't accompany it.
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Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2005, 02:58:21 PM »
Thanks GDElla for the great detail. I too feel little sympathy for this woman who treated dear Vicky so badly, even as Vicky lay dying in 1901. Dona is a good example of "what goes 'round, comes 'round" and she really reaped what she has sown.

Sadly, she may have been in an even better position to work with Vicky and carry on Vicky's legacy than Vicky herself. But, Dona seemed to have squandered her opportunities.

I heard Dona was a bit of a fanatical church builder, sponsoring and funding a great many church buildings in and around Berlin. Any facts on this note? Thanks!
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2005, 05:02:56 PM »
I believe you're right about the churches. She was very religious--really didn't care for any religion but her own as well. Her Court was very narrow-minded and overly pious. She was held up by Bismarck I believe as the examplar of German womanhood with the focus on Children, Church and Kitchen. (Of course his quote was in German). While I don't care for her brand of over-religiosity, she did do a lot of charity work. She just didn't have the intellectual capacity and concern for detail that Vicky did.
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Offline RickV

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2005, 09:53:27 PM »
Can anyone detail her aversions to Vicky? I know I read here of her (obviously spitefully) informing Vicky that their daughter was named for QV and not Vicky herself. Anything else someone can relate? And I agree - she got her comeuppence in the death of her son and the tragedy of her husband's abdication and exile. I know little of her, but she couldn't hold a candle to Vicky!

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2005, 11:45:05 PM »
Wasn't around much today but here's what I managed to put together quickly

1889: Would write to Sophie that she saw little of W or D 'I have only seen William and Dona at the funeral ceremonies [for Fritz], but neither of them have taken any notice of me since.'

When during the year following her widowhood she would've enjoyed something to keep her busy, especially charity work, she was 'inexpressibly annoyed and offended at the patronage of the Red Cross and Fatherland Women's Association passing into Dona's hand, who knows nothing of taking care of the sick and wounded. For years and years I have reckoned on being the Empress Augusta's successor in these things. William simply tells me that Dona had arranged with the Empress Augusta already last year that she was to be her successor in everything, therefore simply ignoring me and leaving me out. I feel this a great want of respect and civility...you know she [Empress Augusta] turned away of late years from Papa and me and took up with Dona and Wilhelm.'

And later that year 'if only William and Dona behaved differently, my life would be less sad.' Vicky enjoyed her other DIL Irene much better and often visited in Kiel.

1891: 'I visited Dona in the afternoon, she was on her sofa. [Having just given birth to Joachim] I offered to hold the baby during the christening but Dona informed me that William did not wish it!'

1890-1: had to take all kinds of abuse from Dona over Sophie's conversion as W&D were convinced that Vicky had a hand in it.

1891: finds her 'very grand and stiff and cold and condescending' when she visits Vicky but Vicky also accepts that perhaps it's partly due to shyness

As Victoria Louise would write in her autobiography she and her siblings weren't close to Vicky. This could partly explain why:
EF to Sophie 1897: 'Willy and Dona paid me a visit with the 3 eldest boys, who were very merry and seemed quite at their ease. They wanted to stay a bit with me, but their Mama would not let them! It is a pity that she is so jealous and dislikes them coming near me, but she does....'

There's more that I'll try to get to later. The general theme seems to be that Vicky and Dona couldn't warm to each other. Dona was probably intimidated by Vicky's intellect as she herself didn't have any intellectual curiosity it seems. She had no real interests outside her family and religion. The charity work she undertook she did in a competent fashion but Vicky was always striving to improve various institutions. Dona was more status quo. Vicky was probably correct in adding that there was a jealousy factor there and Dona enjoyed usurping her MIL's prerogatives. It's a shame that it came at a time when Vicky was so down in her widowhood and could've used some of the extra activities. Also the fact that there seems to have been a real purposeful attempt to keep the children away from Vicky and her liberal ideas. I also don't wonder if Dona had a problem with the intense relationship between Wilhelm and his mother. Wilhelm seems to have loved Vicky deeply and yet could yo-yo between consideration and extreme meanness and almost real cruelty towards her. We've discussed this in other threads but since Wilhelm was the main focus of her life, Dona wouldn't have liked any 'competition' for being the main woman in Wilhelm's life.
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Offline Kevin From Australia

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2005, 04:34:53 AM »
There is a three volume memoir of Ursula Countess von Eppinghoven that came out in 1909 published in New York - Ursula was (supposedly) one of Dona's lady-in-waitings and the memoirs are all about her time at Court.  They can only be described as gossipy, but are very interesting reading, including about Dona's misscarriage in 1895.  Although it only goes up to about 1899, it is still interesting reading.  She talks a lot about how Dona felt being left behind when Wilhelm went off on his travels.
The American publisher was Henry W Fischer & the English publisher William Heinemann.
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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2005, 09:28:09 PM »
It is all very sad, how Dona treated Vicky, since it was Fritz & Vicky who were good friends of her father, who thought she would be a good wife for Willie, and perhaps help him in some ways.  They did a great deal to make the marriage possible, as wasn't the old Emperor & Bismarck, against the marraige??  Look at how Willy behaved after Fritz died, and after Vicky died.
Shameful, and not to mention the hell he gave his mother while she was alive.  I think Dona had to compete in arena in which she had no confidence, fashion, intelligence, allure, court functions, and to add the influence of Fritz's mother, the Empress Augusta.

I have always admired Vicky, so much, for her intelligence, and her heart.  She is one of my favorites. She is another one I would have loved to know and spend time with.  Such brilliance, and too bad she had no influence with her son, to think how different the world could have been if she did.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2006, 08:27:18 PM by grandduchessella »

Offline cimbrio

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2005, 05:30:00 AM »
All I've ever heard about Dona after the end of WWI was her deep sorrow not just for her husband after being kicked out iof Germany, but also of her deep sorrow due to her son's suicide in 1920, which apparently hastened her own death a year later... I don't know how close she and Willie were at this point; didn't he marry his second wife a few months later? I've read his second wife (can't remember her name just now) had lost her husband during the war.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2005, 08:54:24 AM »
Apparently William and Dona became much closer during this short period. He'd always been the center of her world, now without the cares he'd previously had he was able to spend more time with her. When she died he was apparently heartbroken and had her room sealed off (which apparently it still is if people visit Doorn) and would visit it every day for the rest of his life. His daughter Victoria Louise really worried about him in the immediate aftermath as he seemed very depressed and lonely. This could partly be why he remarried fairly quickly to Hermine of Reuss. None of Wilhem's children liked her or the marriage very much though they wanted their father to be happy. I think there may have been some scenes over this but I'll have to get my books out. She was seen as somewhat of a fortune and fame hunter I think. Nonetheless she was good to Wilhelm and they enjoyed a happy marriage until he died. She had been the widow of a minor prince in the house of Reuss (named, naturally , Henry but I'm not sure which one) and her young son had written to the Kaiser in exile. He extended an invitation and thus the relationship began. After the war she became a Nazi sympathizer and wound up dying in Frankfurt (?) but I'll have to get the exact information. I'm not sure if she was imprisoned by the Russians or just died because of illness/poverty.
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Offline kmerov

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2005, 12:21:09 PM »
GDella, thanks for the great info...
Who arranged the marriage of Wilhelm and Dona?
When they married her family were (kinda) exiled, and wasnt there a more suitable princess for him since he was the heir of the empire? Sorry for going off topic..

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Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2005, 01:15:51 PM »
Wilhelm himself chose Dona as his bride & at first his grandfather, the Emperor, was very much against the match with such a lower-born person.  Eventually the Emperor gave way.
I think Wilhelm chose Dona because she flattered his ego & never contradicted him.