Royals and the Reich: the princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany

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Oxford University Press, May 1, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 524 pages
4 Reviews
The link between Hitler's Third Reich and European royalty has gone largely unexplored due to the secrecy surrounding royal families. Now, in Royals and the Reich, Jonathan Petropoulos uses unprecedented access to royal archives to tell the fascinating story of the Princes of Hesse and the important role they played in the Nazi regime.
Princes Philipp and Christoph von Hessen-Kassel, great-grandsons of Queen Victoria of England, had been humiliated by defeat in WWI and, like much of the German aristocracy, feared the social unrest wrought by the ineffectual Weimar Republic. Petropoulos shows how the princes, lured by prominent positions in the Nazi regime and highly susceptible to nationalist appeals, became enthusiastic supporters of Hitler. Prince Philipp, son-in-law to the King of Italy, became the highest-ranking prince in the Nazi state and developed a close personal relationship with Hitler and Hermann Goring. Prince Christoph was a prominent SS officer and head of one of the most important intelligence agencies in the Third Reich. In return, the princes made the Nazis socially acceptable to wealthy, high-society patrons. Prince Philipp even introduced Goring to Mussolini at a critical stage in the Nazi Party's development and later served as a liaison between Hitler and the Italian dictator.
Permitted access to Hessen family private papers and the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, Petropoulos follows the story of the House of Hesse through to its tragic denouement--the princes' betrayal and persecution by an increasingly paranoid Hitler and prosecution and denazification by the Allies. Royals and the Reich is a startling and unique portrait of the vanished world of prewar aristocrats and a royal family caught in one of the most tumultuous periods in history.

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Review: Royals and the Reich: The Princes Von Hessen in Nazi Germany

User Review  - Amy - Goodreads

The story is interesting, so it's a shame the writing doesn't live up to it. The book has disjointed information and random threads that go nowhere. It's too difficult to keep track of who is who with the way the author jumps all over in the narrative. Read full review

Review: Royals and the Reich: The Princes Von Hessen in Nazi Germany

User Review  - Louise - Goodreads

Petropoulos goes where no one has gone before. I had often wondered about the rumors surrounding the Windsors for which JP carefully separates facts from fiction. I had also wondered about what had ... Read full review


Prince Christoph von Hessen in Luftwaffe uniform ca 1941
Royals meet at Schloss Friedrichshof Kronberg 1906
Schloss Friedrichshof at Kronberg AHH

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About the author (2006)

Jonathan Petropoulos is the John V. Croul Professor of European History at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of The Faustian Bargain (OUP), which was named one of the 25 Books to Remember in 2000 by the New York Public Library. He was a Research Director on the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets and has served as an expert witness in cases involving Holocaust victims' assets. He lives in Claremont, California.