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Prince Oskar
File:Prince Oskar of Prussia1888-1958.jpg
Prince Oskar of Prussia
Personal details
Born (1888-07-27)27 July 1888
Marmorpalais, Potsdam, Prussia[1]
Died 27 January 1958(1958-01-27) (aged 69)
Munich, Bavaria
Spouse(s) Countess Ina-Marie von Bassewitz

Prince Oskar of Prussia (Oskar Karl Gustav Adolf) (27 July 1888 in Potsdam, Germany – 27 January 1958 in Munich, Germany) was the fifth son of Wilhelm II, German Emperor and Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein.



Prinz Oskar was educated as a cadet at Plön, in his mother’s ancestral Schleswig-Holstein, as his brothers had been before him. He made the news in 1902 when he fractured his collar bone after a fall from the horizontal bars.[2]

Military career

During the early months of the First World War, he commanded Grenadierregiment "Konig Wilhelm I." (2. Westpreussisches) Nr. 7 in the field as its colonel. Future fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen witnessed the August 22, 1914, attack on Virton, Belgium, and wrote of Prinz Oskar’s bravery and his inspirational leadership at the front of his regiment as they went into combat.[3] For this action, Oskar earned the Iron Cross, Second Class.[4] A month later, at Verdun, Oskar again led his men in a successful assault into heavy combat, and was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class. After this action, he also collapsed and had to be removed from the field.[5] Awarded the wound badge for his injuries, he spent much of the fall of 1914 recovering from what was reported to be a heart condition. He eventually returned to duty and served on the Eastern Front, where he was again awarded the wound badge.[6]

In the early 1920s, his name was listed with other members of the general staff or the royal family accused of war crimes, and was condemned in the Press for applying for a colonel’s pension from the Weimar Republic.[7]

During the 1930s, when the Hohenzollern family attempted to test the waters for a return to power through Nationalist Socialism, Oskar appears to have played along, and eventually was commissioned at Generalmajor zur Verfügung (rank equivalent to brigadier general, "available for assignment"), circa March 1, 1940. As it became more evident that there would be no restoration of the monarchy through the Nazis, the family began to fall out of favor with Hitler, with the exception of Oskar’s middle brother, August Wilhelm.

With the early battlefield deaths of Oskar’s son (also named Oskar, killed in Poland, September 1939) and his nephew (Wilhelm, son of the Crown Prince, died of wounds received in France, March 1940) the German people harbored a newfound sentiment for the royal family amidst the totalitarian regime that was Nazi Germany. As a consequence, the majority of royals serving in the German Armed Forces appear to have had their commissions canceled, including Prinz Oskar. Though August Wilhelm remained loyal to Hitler and former Crown Prince Wilhelm remained complacently neutral, Oskar and his other surviving brothers, Eitel Friedrich and Adalbert, became anti-Nazis.

Master of Knights, Protestant Order of Saint John

Prinz Oskar (center) in procession with the Johanniterorden, 1924

The Johanniterorden (The Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg)) was a favorite of the Hohenzollerns, historically, and of Prinz Oskar’s immediate family in specific. His father and uncle were members, and his brother, Eitel Friedrich, served as its Master of Knights (Herrenmeister), from 1907 to 1926. Prinz Oskar served as the thirty-fifth Master of Knights [8] from Eitel Friedrich's resignation in 1926 until his death in 1958. Modern historians credit Prinz Oskar for saving the ancient order from oblivion during the cultural purges of the Nazi regime. It is from this struggle that he held his anti-Nazi sentiments. After his death in 1958, his youngest son, Prinz Wilhelm Karl, became his permanent successor. Prinz Oskar's grandson and namesake, Dr. Oskar Hohenzollern, Prince of Prussia, is the current (thirty-seventh) Master of Knights.

Marriage and issue

Prinz Oskar was married on 31 July 1914 to Countess Ina-Marie Helene Adele Elise von Bassewitz (27 January 1888 – 17 September 1973).[9] Both the civil and religious ceremonies took place at Schloß Bellevue near Berlin, Prussia. Initially the union was considered morganatic, but on 3 November 1919 was decreed to be dynastic in accordance with the house laws of the Royal House of Hohenzollern under Cardinal Brandr Beekman-Ellner. Prior to her marriage, on 27 July 1914, Ina Marie had also gained the title "Countess of Ruppin", and from 21 June 1920, was titled "Princess of Prussia" with the style Royal Highness. The couple had four children:

  • Prince Oskar Wilhelm Karl Hans Kuno of Prussia (12 July 1915 Potsdam, Germany – 5 September 1939 Poland); died in World War II.
  • Prince Burchard Friedrich Max Werner Georg of Prussia (8 January 1917 – 12 August 1988); married, but had no issue.
  • Princess Herzeleide-Ina-Marie Sophie Charlotte Else of Prussia (25 December 1918 – 22 March 1989); married and had three children, including Prince Ernst-Johann Biron of Courland.
  • Prince Wilhelm Karl Adalbert Erich Detloff of Prussia (20 January 1922 – 9 April 2007); married and had three children (Prince Oskar of Prussia among them); was the last living grandchild of Emperor Wilhelm II; was the thirty-sixth Herrenmeister of the Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg).

Prinz Oskar, whose health declined during the final years of his life, died of cancer in a clinic in Munich on 17 January 1958.[1]

Regimental Commissions [10]

Prinz Oskar, during the First World War

  • 1. Garderegiment zu Fuß (1st Regiment of Foot Guards), Leutnant from 1898, Hauptman (captain) through 1914 [11]
  • Grenadierregiment "Konig Wilhelm I." (2. Westpreussisches) Nr. 7, à la suite before 1908, Oberst (colonel) during World War I [3]
  • 3. Gardegrenadierlandwehrregiment (3rd Reserve Regiment of Grenadier Guards), à la suite before 1908

Chivalric Orders [10]

  • Master of the Knights, Johanniterorden (German Order of St. John), 1926–1958
  • Knight, First Class with Crown, Mecklenburg Order of the Wendish Crown
  • Knight, First Class (with diamonds), Osminieh Order, Ottoman Empire (Turkey)

Military Decorations (1914-1918)

  • Iron Cross, Second Class, August 22, 1914,[3] for actions at Virton.
  • Iron Cross, First Class, September 24, 1914,[5] for actions at Verdun
  • Wound Badge, September 1914 (Virton) and February 7, 1916 (Russian Front).[12]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Kirschstein, Jörg (2003). "Oskar Prinz von Preussen". Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  2. “Kaiser’s Fifth Son Hurt.” New York Times. December 9, 1902.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kilduff, Peter. The Life and Death of an Ace. Cincinnati, OH: David & Charles, LTD., 2007. p. 34.
  4. "Kaiser Decorates 2 Sons for Bravery." New York Times. August 26, 1914.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Von Der Horst Killed Leading His Troops." New York Times. October 3, 1914.
  6. "Kaiser's Son Oscar is Wounded Again." New York Times. February 8, 1916.
  7. “Princes Seek Pensions.” New York Times (reprinted from Chicago Tribune), August 20, 1922.
  8. Robert M. Clark, Jr., The Evangelical Knights of Saint John; Dallas, Texas: 2003; pp. 41-53, 111.
  9. "Son Of The Kaiser To Wed A Countess. Prince Oscar to Contract a Morganatic Marriage with a Premier's Daughter". May 27, 1914. Retrieved 2011-03-18. "Prince Oscar of Prussia, the fifth son of the Kaiser, is about to contract a morganatic marriage. His engagement to Countess Ina Marie von Bassewitz-Levetzow, daughter of the Premier of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and former maid of honor of the Kaiserin, is officially announced today." 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Schench, G. Handbuch über den Königlich Preuβischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908. Berlin, Prussia, 1907.
  11. "Son of the Kaiser to Wed a Countess." New York Times, May 27, 1914.
  12. "Kaiser's Son Oscar is Wounded Again." New York Times February 8, 1916.

External links

Prince Oskar of Prussia
House of Hohenzollern
Born: 27 July 1888 Died: 27 January 1958
Preceded by
Eitel Friedrich, Prinz von Preußen
Herrenmeister (Grand Master) of the Order of Saint John
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Karl, Prinz von Preußen

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