Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Palace and the Bunker

“The Palace and the Bunker. Royal Resistance to Hitler,” by Frank Millard. (The History Press).  192 pages, 14 illustrations.

Much has been made of the royal princes who supported Hitler, many of whom thought the Nazis would be a useful bulwark against Bolshevik Russia.  But what of those who resisted?

Frank Millard begins with National Socialism in Germany, showing how the demise of the German and Austrian monarchies in 1918 made the rise of Hitler possible.  Then, armed with the knowledge of the world in which the various royal families were living, he goes on to look at some case histories – Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (involved in the German resistance movement),  Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria (whose family ended up in the Nazi concentration camps),  Prince Hubertus zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg (who travelled widely, assembling groups of German exiles), Otto von Habsburg (sentence to death in absentia) and the Hohenbergs, Maximilian and Ernst, children of the ill-fated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Max and Ernst, both vocal supporters of a Habsburg restoration, were rounded up in 1938 and sent to the notorious Dachau concentration camp where they were forced to clean the lavatories. Queen Mary (who had known their parents) was among those who worked for their release. The final chapter deals all too briefly with other royal houses who opposed the Nazis – Denmark, Norway, Britain, the Netherlands, amongst others.  All played their part, and their ‘quiet defiance’ undermined Hitler’s authority.

As history this is fascinating stuff but as a ‘royal’ book it has several drawbacks.  Firstly, the initial 88 pages deal with National Socialism, the royal subjects only appear in the last one hundred pages.  Secondly, there are some errors.  The King of Norway was not the younger brother of the King of Sweden; Christian X succeeded his father in 1912, not 1910.

Having said all that, the book is certainly not without interest, although personally I would have preferred more emphasis on the ‘royal resistance’ and less on ‘the bunker.’

Coryne Hall


Personally, I believe Coryne Hall is being awfully kind in her review of this major disappointment of a book.

When I started reading the book, I had many hopes and myriad expectations. Few, in fact, were met. Most disconcerting of all seems to be the author's complete inability to correctly describe familial connections, genealogy of the people analyzed in the book (according to Mr. Millard Crown Princess Cecilie was the grandmother of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, not his mother...oh dear!). In one page alone I found three major mistakes when dealing with relationships, dates and facts.

Save the the tree...

I was thoroughly amazed that the publisher, successors to the defunct Sutton Publishing, paid such small attention to these details. Most of these dates can be easily found and verified online. The use of any major genealogical work, like Marlene Koenig's Queen Victoria's Descendants, is yet another reason why the author seemed at such a loss when discussing who is a cousin of whom.

Initially we were going to sell the book and thus add it to our 1200+ book catalogue, however, after reading most of it I felt, strongly, that these book is simply just not one I would recommend. It is a hard decision as I expected so much from it...but it is what it is!

Arturo Beéche

1 comment:

  1. A rather unfair comment. Anyone who has ever written a book will know just how much hard work is involved and the huge investment of time and mental effort. This book contains a massive amount of information crammed into its pages in a way that is easy to digest. Its exploration of the build up to war, and clash of cultures and priorities makes interesting reading. Furthermore, its argument in favour of constitutional monarchy should be widely aired if only to provoke discussion.