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During World War Two, Hitler removed the Hohenzollern princes from serving in the German Army after he saw the outpouring of grief and sympathy from the German public upon the death of one of the princes while serving in the army. Was the restoration of the Hohenzollern dynasty ever contemplated by the Allied powers or the new German government at the end of the war?

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on History Meta, or in History Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – MCW
    Apr 3, 2023 at 20:03
  • The counter-question is "why should they have reinstated a monarchy they had kicked out 25 years earlier?"
    – RonJohn
    Apr 4, 2023 at 5:02
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    "Why did Germany decide..?" Germany did not have much if any word in it, being under military occupation at that time, and the new form of the administration was decided by the occupying powers. This is not even about whether it was a good or a bad thing, but it was what it was.
    – vsz
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:51
  • Who was the prince that died in the army?
    – StefanH
    Apr 4, 2023 at 15:40
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    @StefanH Prince Wilhelm Friedrich Franz Joseph Christian Olaf of Prussia (4 July 1906 – 26 May 1940)
    – Excel r 8
    Apr 5, 2023 at 10:49

3 Answers 3

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SUMMARY: Because Hohenzollern dynasty and the general conception of Prussia as a kingdom, or Germany as an empire, had already been "destroyed" in minds.

Detailed answer:

Prussia officially unified the states of Germany and created the Second Reich in 1871, after its successful war against France. This creation was sustained until 1918, when hungry Germans led a riot close to a revolution against the Empire, forcing the Emperor to abdicate and exile in the Netherlands. After a civil war, notably against the communist Spartakists, the Republic of Weimar was installed.

And this is this republic that was overthrown by Hitler in 1933 (technically, there were elections but you know the context of brutal events, lies, and violence as a pressure on the population). The name "Third Reich" was given, after the Second Reich, but Hitler's government and institutions were those of a dictatorship rather than a monarchy: especially, it relied on ideology a lot.

When in 1945 the Third Reich fell, Germany was split in two and the Allies wanted to secure the future from a new German expansion. Installing a new kingdom was certainly not a good idea in that regard. So the Soviets installed a soviet-style republic, the German Democratic Republic, and the Western allies an "Occidental-style" republic, the German Federal Republic.

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    You might add that in 1947 the Allies abolished Prussia as an entity saying it had "been a bearer of militarism and reaction in Germany" and so not a good thing, and distributed its local administrative functions among the Länder and Berlin, for those parts which had not become parts of Poland or the Soviet Union.
    – Henry
    Apr 1, 2023 at 20:15
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    It might also be noteworthy that the newly created position of the Bundespräsident as the head of state was purposefully designed to be much less powerful than previous German head of states, like the Reichspräsident and the German Emperor, had been. It probably wouldn't have meshed well to install a member of the formerly ruling dynasty as such a "pared down" head of state, calling him formally king or not. Apr 1, 2023 at 22:58
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@totalMongot's third paragraph is a good start. None of the victors wanted a recidivist Germany or even (at the time) a united Germany. Creating a new Kingdom of Germany was for that reason a non-starter.

Additionally, the US did not see any benefit for Germany of a restored Hohenzollern dynasty. The US was staunchly democratic, believed a limited republic to be the best form of government, and so (along with Britain) set up a federal republic for the parts of Germany it controlled -- pretty much the opposite of a centralized kingdom. (The USSR was also anti-monarchy, of course, for its own ideological reasons.)

Beyond that, the original question asks "Why did Germany decide not to restore..." and @Moishe Kohan correctly notes that Germany was not in a position to decide anything even if it had wanted the Hohenzollerns back.

And did any significant number of Germans even want that?

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  • Third paragraph, but I think the OP is missing also the elements of the first and second pargaprahs: Germany after WW2 was not made an empire/monarchy ynder the hohenzollern because it had already become a republic. A (not so correct but interesting) comparison is that Japan kept his emperor because it had not overthrown the Emperor by itself before WW2 Apr 2, 2023 at 10:39
  • @totalMongot Comparing Germany with Italy might be more relevant and instructive here?
    – Jan
    Apr 2, 2023 at 23:44
  • Re-instating a German "Empire" post WW2 in the west (Stalin wouldn't have allowed East Germany to be part of it) would not only mean immediate trouble with East Germany, but Poland as well. Danzig&Königsberg, anybody? And more trouble certainly wasn't was anybody post WW2 was aiming for.
    – Dohn Joe
    Apr 3, 2023 at 14:08
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In addition to the other answers, it may also be of interest that even in Germany, few people would have wanted that. (The following points are mostly based on the recent book "Die Hohenzollern und die Nazis" by Stephan Malinowski (https://www.ullstein.de/werke/die-hohenzollern-und-die-nazis/hardcover/9783549100295), which extensively deals with the activities of the Hohenzollerns, in particular the former crown prince, during the 20s and early 30s.)

In the Weimar republic, many people, in particular on the political right, rejected the republic. Additionally, there was a widespread general nostalgia for kingdom(s) and empire. However, there never was a significant political movement for a restoration of the 1871 empire, for various reasons such as

  • re-establishing all the (nominally more or less sovereign) states within Germany was unpopular,
  • even many people on the right favoured a more egalitarian society without the hereditary privileges of the aristocracy (a notion which had significant racial components in the Volksgemeinschaft),
  • and the natural candidates for emperor, former emperor Wilhelm (II.) and former crown prince Wilhelm, were discredited (by the flight to the Netherlands, by their general behaviour during the war and later) among conservative royalists.

So one reason for conservatives (including the Hohenzollerns) for collaborating with the Nazis was to overthrow the republic, with the idea that the house of Hohenzollern may be restored to some kind of reformed imperial throne, but actually, that was never particularly popular even in 1930.

So after the war, a restoration was never seriously considered AFAIK. (Of course, the allies didn't want that anyway.)

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