Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Hermann of Saxe-Weimar accused of Fraud

Prince Wilhelm

February 2, 1913

It has been a difficult two weeks for Prince and Princess Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.  Only last week, they were indignantly denying the reported engagement of their daughter, Princess Sophie, to Baron Hans Viktor von Bleichroeder, a member of a prominent Berlin Jewish banking family.  The von Bleichroeders' bank, according to the Marquise de Fontenoy, placed "its financial resources at the disposal of Prince Bismarck when he was unable to obtain the necessary supplies from the Prussian and north German Parliament."

Now comes the news by cable from Vienna that a criminal warrant has been issued for the arrest of  Sophie's 26-year-old brother,  Count Hermann von Ostheim.   The former prince will be charged with "several charges of extremely contemptible swindles."

In August 1909, he was "compelled to surrender" his commission in the German army and his succession rights to the grand ducal throne of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.  At the time, he was the heir presumptive to the throne.   These actions were in consequence "of the extremely unsavory scrapes in which he had at the time become involved."

One of the "unsavory scrapes was his marriage to Paola Lottero in London on September 5, 1909.  They were divorced two years later.   

The very wealthy Prince Roland Bonaparte had considered then Prince Hermann for his only child, Princess Marie.  Prince Roland, whose fortune was made from his part ownership of the casinos in Monte Carlo, was not willing to sacrifice his daughter's happiness, even to become a consort of a sovereign Grand Duke, for a "man of such evil reputation."   Marie married Prince George of Greece, a younger son of King George of the Hellenes in December 1907.

Hermann had borrowed a "considerable amount of money" when he believed he would marry Princess Marie. but when that arrangement fell through, he found himself in a precarious financial situation.   He failed to make an appearance in court, where he was declared bankrupt.  

The former prince takes after his father, Prince Wilhelm, who has been forced to live outside Weimar for some years,  as in his younger days he was "involved in so many scrapes" that he was forced to serve in the French Foreign Legion and then the Dutch Foreign Legion, where he served in Sumatra.  This was followed by a stint in the United States, where he was known as William Rhode, living the "life of a remittance man." He supplanted his meager allowance from his family by taking on several jobs, including riding master, cab driver, streetcar conductor, wine tout, and a waiter.  

After he fell seriously ill in New York City,  Wilhelm's family "took pity on him: and arranged for his return to Germany.   A marriage was arranged with the "kindly, indulgent" Princess Gerda of Isenburg.  She bore her husband, three children,  Hermann, now a fugitive from justice, Prince Albert, 26, and 24-year-old Princess Sophie.

Prince Wilhelm and his wife and daughter live in "somewhat straitened circumstances" in Heidelberg, where he enjoys spending time at cafes, drinking beer and discussing "American affairs" and reminiscing about his life in New York with Americans attending Heidelberg University.


L'Artisan said...

Marlene, do you know the cause of death of Hermann's son by his second marriage, Alexander Kyrill? He died at only 21 in Stockholm in 1943.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

no, sorry