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Prinzenerlass ("the Princes' decree") was the name of a decree issued in 1940 by Adolf Hitler that prohibited all members of Germany's formerly reigning royal houses from joining or participating in any military operations in the Wehrmacht.

Until the Nazi seizure of power, and even until the outbreak of World War II, the members of the former German nobility continued to enjoy the rights they had prior to the abolition of the monarchy in 1918. During the course of the war, however, Hitler changed this position, and a deep mistrust grew, especially after the attempted assassination on his life, in which several members of the former nobility were key participants.

In May 1940, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, the grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, took part in the invasion of France. He was wounded during the fighting in Valenciennes and died in a field hospital in Nivelles on 26 May 1940. His funeral service was held at the Church of Peace, and he was buried in the Hohenzollern family masoleum in the Antique Temple in Sanssouci Park. The service drew over 50,000 mourners.[1]

His death and the ensuing sympathy of the German public toward a member of the former German royal house greatly bothered Hitler, and he began to see the Hohenzollerns as a threat to his power. Shortly afterwards, the Prinzenerlass was issued, and all members of the former German royal houses were relieved from combat duties.[1]

The law was not rigorously applied, however. In just one example, Eberhard von Urach (1907-1969), the fourth son of the second duke of Urach, and father of the fourth and fifth dukes, served until his capture in 1944.

References

  1. ^ a b (German) "Wilhelm Prinz von Preussen (in German)". Preussen.de. http://www.preussen.de/de/geschichte/kronprinz_wilhelm/kinder/wilhelm.html. Retrieved 2008-07-12.  
  • Queen Victoria's Family: A Century of Photographs., Charlotte Zeepvat. Sutton Publishing, 2003.
  • Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany, Jonathan Petropoulos. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Hitler and German royalty, Gentlemen's Military Interest Club.
  • KVK to a prince, Gentlemen's Military Interest Club.
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