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Huis Doorn

Coordinates: 52°01′53″N 5°20′19″E / 52.0314°N 5.3386°E / 52.0314; 5.3386
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Huis Doorn
Red brick front of the building with a stone bridge leading to the entrance
Huis Doorn in 2010
Huis Doorn is located in Utrecht (province)
Huis Doorn
Location of the museum in Utrecht in the Netherlands
LocationLangbroekerweg 10[2]
Doorn, Netherlands
Coordinates52°01′53″N 5°20′19″E / 52.0314°N 5.3386°E / 52.0314; 5.3386
TypeNational museum
Historic house museum
Visitors25,000 (2012)[3]
DirectorF.M. Louhenapessy[4]
PresidentR.C. Robbertsen[4]

Huis Doorn (Dutch pronunciation: [ɦœyz ˈdoːr(ə)n];[5] English: House Doorn) is a manor house and national museum in the town of Doorn in the Netherlands. The residence has early 20th-century interiors from the time when former German Emperor Wilhelm II resided there (1919–1941).

Huis Doorn was first built in the 13th century. It was rebuilt in the 14th century, after it was destroyed. It was again rebuilt in the 19th century to its present-day form. The gardens were designed in the 19th century. After World War I, Wilhelm II bought the house, where he lived in exile from 1920 until his death in 1941. He is buried in a coffin within a mausoleum in the gardens. After the German occupation in World War II, the house was seized by the Dutch government as enemy property.

Huis Doorn is now a national museum and a national heritage site. The interior of the house has not been changed since Wilhelm II died. Every year in June, German monarchists come to Doorn to pay their respects to the emperor. In 2019, the museum had 54,000 visitors.[3]

Early history


The original structure was built in the 13th century,[6] but was destroyed and rebuilt in the 14th century.[7] It was again rebuilt in the late 18th century in a conservative manner and yet again, in the mid-19th century. A park which surrounds the building was laid out as what the Dutch describe as an English landscape garden at the start of the 19th century, but later adjusted by Wilhelm and others to add features including areas of woodland garden.[8]

Baroness Ella van Heemstra (1900–1984), the mother of actress Audrey Hepburn, spent much of her childhood living in the house.[9]

Residence of Wilhelm II

Hermine Reuss of Greiz and Wilhelm II at Huis Doorn in 1933
Mausoleum of Wilhelm II

The property was purchased for 500,000 guilders in 1919 by Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor (German:Kaiser), as his residence-in-exile (1920–1941), following his abdication after World War I.[10] Wilhelm's asylum in the Netherlands was based on family ties with Queen Wilhelmina, however Wilhelmina always refused to meet Wilhelm.[10] During his years in exile, he was allowed to travel freely within a 10-kilometre radius of his house, but journeys farther than that meant that advance notice had to be given to a local government official.[11] As he disliked having to kowtow to a minor official, he rarely journeyed beyond the "free" limit.[citation needed] The former Emperor regularly exercised by chopping down many of the estate's trees, splitting the logs into stacks of firewood, thereby denuding the matured landscape as the years progressed. Hence he was called by his enemies "The Woodchopper of Doorn".[9][10][12]

His first wife, Augusta nicknamed Dona, died at Huis Doorn 11 April 1921 and her body was taken back to Potsdam in Germany, where she was buried in the Antique Temple.[9] The funeral ceremony took place in Doorn.[13]

In January 1922, Wilhelm invited the widowed princess Hermine of Greiz and her young son to Huis Doorn. He took a liking to Hermine's company, they had much in common and got married on 5 November 1922. Hermine lived in Huis Doorn with Wilhelm in his exile until his death in 1941.[9] She then returned to Germany and after her death, she was also interred in the Antique Temple in Potsdam due to being Wilhelm's second wife. Hermine undertook the property management of Huis Doorn, and in 1927 she wrote her autobiographical book An Empress in Exile: My Days in Doorn.[14]

In 1931 and 1932,[15] there were meetings with Hermann Göring. The audiences did not go well, and Wilhelm developed a severe disliking for Göring.[10][16] Wilhelm was known for anti-Semitic views, however he did have close Jewish friends like Walther Rathenau,[16] and was outraged by the Kristallnacht.[15]

In 1938, Wilhelm's grandson, Prince Louis Ferdinand, was married to Grand Duchess Kira of Russia, in Huis Doorn. Thirty members of royal families attended the ceremony, however Queen Wilhelmina sent her daughter Princess Juliana.[17]

On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Wilhelm had been offered asylum in Great Britain, however he refused to take up the offer. On 14 May, the Wehrmacht arrived at Huis Doorn, however Wilhelm and his household would remain undisturbed.[18] German officers were forbidden to enter his estate,[15] and Wilhelm would remain under guard in his estate during the occupation.[18]

Wilhelm II died of a pulmonary embolism at Huis Doorn, on 4 June 1941, with German occupation soldiers on guard at the gates of his estate. He lies in a maroon-coloured coffin, above the ground, in a small mausoleum in the gardens, to await his return to Germany upon the restoration of the Prussian monarchy, according to the terms of his will.[19] His wish that no swastikas be displayed at his funeral was not heeded.[10]

Five of Wilhelm's beloved dachshunds are buried in the park. A marker is dedicated to the memory of his dog, Senta, who was a favourite of Wilhelm and died in 1927 at the age of 20.[20]

Historic house museum

The dining room in 2013

The Dutch government seized the manor house and its household contents in May 1945[21] and,[22] since then, many new trees have been planted and the wooded parkland is being returned to its earlier glory.[23]

Huis Doorn opened its doors as a historic house museum in 1956.[1] It is presented just as Wilhelm left it, with marquetry commodes, tapestries, paintings by German court painters, porcelains and silver. The collection also includes Wilhelm's collections of snuffboxes and uniforms that had belonged to Frederick the Great.[24]

In June each year, a devoted band of German monarchists still come to pay their respects and lay wreaths, accompanied by marchers in period uniforms and representatives from modern monarchist organisations, such as Tradition und Leben of Cologne.[12]

The house became a national heritage site or rijksmonument in 1997.[7] In 2014, Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia filed a claim on the estate which was rejected by Minister Jet Bussemaker.[25][26]


  1. ^ a b (in Dutch) Reinier Baarsen, Het Huis Doorn, Jaarboek Monumentenzorg 2001, 2001. Retrieved on 11 April 2014.
  2. ^ Contact Archived 2013-10-02 at the Wayback Machine, Huis Doorn. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b (in Dutch) Nieuwe toekomst voor Huis Doorn Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine, Jaar van de historische buitenplaats, 2013. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  4. ^ a b (in Dutch) Organisatie Archived 2013-10-02 at the Wayback Machine, Huis Doorn. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  5. ^ In isolation, Huis is pronounced [ɦœys].
  6. ^ "Geschiedenis van Huis Doorn". Is Geschiedenis (in Dutch). 7 January 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b (in Dutch) Monumentnummer: 506961 - Huis Doorn, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Retrieved on 9 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Masterplan Park Huis Doorn" (PDF). Rijksvastgoedbedrijf (in Dutch). 1 March 2015. p. 7. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d Michel Dutrieue. "De dagboeken van de Duitse keizer in Huis Doorn". Stretto (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Huis Doorn en de Duitse keizer". Geschiedenis Beleven (in Dutch). 14 February 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  11. ^ "Huis Doorn". Eerste Wereld Oorlog. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  12. ^ a b Piet den Blanken. "Germans Pay Honour at the Grave of Their Beloved Kaiser". Great War. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Ex-keizerin Augusta Victoria". De Tijd via Delpher.nl (in Dutch). 11 April 1921. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  14. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Hermine Prinzessin Reuss zu Greiz". The Peerage. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  15. ^ a b c Kevin Prenger. "Heulen met Hitler in Huis Doorn". Historiek (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Hermann Göring bezoekt Huis Doorn". Dossier Wilhelm 2 (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  17. ^ "De Bruiloft ten Doorn". Bataviaasch nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 5 May 1938. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Huis Doorn in de Tweede Wereldoorlog". Anticipate (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Mausoleum". Museum Huis Doorn. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  20. ^ "The Kaiser's "Brutes with Jaws Measuring Half the Length of their…Bodies"". National Pure Bred Dog Day. 13 September 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Brief van Eversheds inzake teruggave Huis Doorn_676995_scan".
  22. ^ Daniel Boffey (18 September 2018). "Dutch royal family step in to save former home of Kaiser Wilhelm II". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  23. ^ "Renovatie Park". Huis Doorn (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  24. ^ Mirjam Langelaar (4 April 2007). "Huis Doorn, toevluchtsoord voor Duitslands laatste keizer". Reformatorisch Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  25. ^ Jet Bussemaker (26 September 2014). "Brief van Eversheds inzake teruggave Huis Doorn" (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Brieven verschenen van familie Duitse keizer die Huis Doorn claimde". RTV Utrecht (in Dutch). 24 November 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2022.