von Hindenburg replied: “The army and the troops are no longer behind His Majesty. There are no loyal troops left. Would to God, Your Majesty, that it were otherwise!”
9th NovemberEvents see-sawed throughout the day, as decisions were being taken, events had changed both at the front and at home in Germany. The Kaiser was at the Hôtel Britannique when he agreed that he would abdicate as Emperor of Germany but would remain as King of Prussia, however, von Schulenburg from the suite of the Crown Prince persuaded him not to renounce the title. von Hindenburg and Gröner told Wilhelm that the German armies would march back home under their officers but would refuse to follow him or his command. Wilhelm responded that the Army would follow their oath of allegiance and ‘follow the flag’, Gröner (forever considered to be a traitor and coward by most Germans) demurred and told his Supreme Commander that he had been happy to follow in the good times that ‘following the flag was pure fiction’ and that he should go, and go ‘now’! By 2.00pm Wilhelm agreed that he should abdicate as Emperor, but was determined to remain as head of the Army and King of Prussia. Berlin was contacted only to be told that it was too late. The Chancellor had already announced the complete abdication of Wilhelm and renounced the succession of Crown Prince Wilhelm. HRH Prince Max von Baden resigned as Chancellor and his post was taken by the socialist Ebert — Prince Max’s father too had renounced his title and therefore Max no longer had a throne to inherit either. Wilhelm was understandably furious and responded: "I am and remain the King of Prussia”.Rear Admiral von Levetzow recorded: “Before the Emperor stood the Field-Marshal, General Gröner and General von Marschall being a little to one side. On our entrance the Emperor said: ‘Field Marshal, you will please repeat to Admiral Scheer what you have just said to me."
Wilhelm replied: “If it is as the Field Marshal informs me, I cannot well allow myself to be arrested! There is nothing for it but to abdicate as Emperor. I remain King of Prussia. But that gentlemen may learn how I am served by my Chancellor — Prince Max von Baden proclaimed my abdication both as Emperor and King this morning, without my knowledge and without my authority. That is the way I am served by my last Chancellor!”
Admiral Scheer said to Wilhelm: “The effect on the Navy will be incalculable, if it has lost its Supreme War-Lord.”
Wilhelm replied: “I have no Navy now.”
Crown Prince Wilhelm arrived at noon and met with his father until 3.00pm with the determination that Wilhelm would remain as King of Prussia. Crown Prince Wilhelm returned with his retinue to his Army Group.
During the afternoon of Wilhelm was left alone to contemplate his future and at the same time the socialist Scheidemann declared the Second Reich was at an end and a Republic was established. At 5.00pm von Hindenburg took his leave of Wilhelm as the discussion on his exile in Holland continued.
Wilhelm wrote to his son:
“My Dear Boy
After the Court Chamberlain had informed me that he could no longer guarantee my safety at Main Headquarters, and that the troops also were no longer trustworthy, I resolved after a severe mental struggle to leave the army, which has collapsed, and go to Holland.
I advise you to stick to your post until the conclusion of the armistice.
In Berlin two Governments, under the leadership of Ebert and Liebknecht, are fighting against each other.
I hope to see you again in happier times.
Your faithful and deeply affected father,
At 7.45pm Wilhelm boarded the Imperial train at Spa Station. At 10.00pm it was agreed that Wilhelm would request exile in Holland on the basis that he was a Prince of Orange and therefore a member of the Dutch Royal Family. Niemann recorded: “In the train I found the Emperor already at dinner with his suite. I had been afraid that the excitement of the previous hours would have made him lethargic. But not at all. He looked up at me with all his animation; he face was calm and resolute. They told me that the Emperor had quite changed his mind about going to Holland.”
At 5.00am on 10th the Imperial train pulled out of the station, however due to security worries, it travelled only five kilometres to La Reid (no trace of the railway line or station now exists) where Wilhelm and his retinue transferred into a fleet of cars that they drove in the dark to the border village of Eisden, the Imperial train following.
Wilhelm paced up and down on the station at Eisden whilst the final negotiations took place in Den Haag that took more than six hours, a strange experience for a man who had never had to wait for six minutes for anything in his life, let alone six hours. His train had arrived and he was able to make use of its facilities. Eventually the agreement for Wilhelm and his suite to pass arrived, he got into his car and went into exile. He was driven across the border into Holland a country he would never leave, in life or death.
The Kaiser and his suite initially stayed in Amerongen where his first request being (after checking that his host was not a Freemason): “So what do you say, now give me a nice cup of hot, good, real English tea.”
On 16th August 1919 he purchased Huis Doorn close by and moved into the property on 15th May 1920. Eventually twenty-three railway carriages of his chosen items and property was sent to him by the Weimar Government.
Properties Used in the Town
Château de la Faineuse
Initial home of Kaiser Wilhelm II - until 23rd April 1918
Became a meeting house and conference centre for the German High Command
Villa du Neubois
Second home of Kaiser Wilhelm II - from 23rd April 1918
Home of Field Marshal Hindenburg, fitted with an air-raid shelter
Home of General Ludendorff
German Military Headquarters until the end of the War
During the World War II it was used as an Allied Headquarters in September 1944
Now used as a holiday home and educational establishment for children
Telegraph (next to the Britannique)
Military Commandant of Spa and surrounding area
3 avenue de la Gare
The Old Station
Hôtel des Postes
German army postal service