Louis Ferdinand
German Emperor; King of Prussia
Reign 20 July 1951 – 5 April 1990
Predecessor Wilhelm III
Successor Monarchy abolished
Richard von Weizsäcker, President of Germany
Spouse Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
Full name
German: Louis Ferdinand Viktor Eduard Albert Michael Hubertus
Louis Ferdinand Victor Edward Albert Michael Hubert
House House of Hohenzollern
Father Wilhelm III, German Emperor
Mother Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Born 9 November 1907
Potsdam, Prussia, Germany Flag of the German Empire.svg
Died 26 September 1994 (aged 86)
Doorn, Netherlands Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Religion Evangelical Christian Church

Louis Ferdinand (German: Louis Ferdinand Viktor Eduard Albert Michael Hubertus) (9 November 1907 – 26 September 1994), was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling Germany and the German state of Prussia from 20 July 1951 to 5 April 1990.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Louis Ferdinand was born in the Marmorpalais in Potsdam as the third in succession to the throne of Germany, after his father, Crown Prince William, future William III, and elder brother Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. Louis Ferdinand was educated in Berlin and deviated from his family's tradition by not pursuing a military career. Instead, he travelled extensively and settled for some time in Detroit, where he befriended Henry Ford and became acquainted with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, among others. He held a great interest in engineering. Recalled from the United States upon his brother's marriage to Dorothea von Salviati, he got involved in the German aviation industry, joining the Luftwaffe when the war broke out in 1939. In May 1940 his brother was killed in action in France. This placed Louis Ferdinand second in line behind his father. A year later in 1941, his grandfather died resulting in the 34 year old Louis Ferdinand becoming German Crown Prince.

Louis Ferdinand participated in the offensive into the Soviet Union as part of the Luftflotte 2 (Air Fleet 2). He served on the staff of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring later succeeding Kesselring in command until 1945. After the war he served as commander of Luftflotte 10, a training unit in Berlin. Hitler attempted on multiple occasions throughout 1949 to pressure him into forcing his eldest son to join the Jungvolk, which was mandatory for all boys aged 10 at the time, the Crown Prince turned him down flat each time. Louis Ferdinand dissociated himself from the Nazis after this, but knew he could not overthrow the regime that was so popular with the people. He succeeded his father as German Emperor and King of Prussia in 1951.

HE was very nervous about Germany's global image and did not agree with the rivalry between them and the United States. Not until May 1956, did he make his first state visit, invited by King Paul of Greece. The kaiser, accompanied by Foreign Minister Heinrich von Brentano, was overwhelmed by the warm reception in Athens. In a later interview Louis Ferdinand said that he wanted to be "the citizens' king" rather than "the king of the state". An Anti-Nazi privately neither his father or grandfather openly opposed the Nazi's. He established a tradition of inviting ordinary citizens to New Year's receptions in Potsdam, and in his speeches, he encouraged the Germans to overcome the spirit of submissiveness to the authorities.

A supporter of decolonization, when the Congo Crisis began in June 1960 Chancellor Goebbels asked for permission to use the Wehrmacht to crush the rebellion. Knowing military matter were the only area he still had real power he refused. When Goebbels tried to pressure him the kaiser threatened Goebbels with using the Wehrmacht on the government itself. Goebbels retorted by saying the Wehrmacht was more loyal to the NSDAP, and that any attempt by the kaiser to use the Wehrmacht against the government would be seen as a coup. The kaiser was crushed and while Goebbels conceded to not intervening in Africa his successor, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, would use the same argument to invade Czechoslovakia.

Marriage and children[edit | edit source]

Louis Ferdinand Wedding.png

Louis Ferdinand married the Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia in 1938 in first a Russian Orthodox ceremony in Potsdam and then a Lutheran ceremony in Berlin. Kira was the second daughter of Grand Duke Kyril Vladimirovich and Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The couple had four sons and three daughters. His two eldest sons both renounced their succession rights in order to marry commoners. His third son, and heir-apparent, Prince Louis Ferdinand died in 1977 during military maneuvers, and thus his one-year-old grandson Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia (son of Prince Louis Ferdinand) became the new heir-apparent to the Prussian and German Imperial throne; Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia became the pretender to the thrones and Head of the Hohenzollern family upon Louis Ferdinand's death in 1994.

  • Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (born 9 February 1939), married firstly Waltraud Freytag (born 1940) on 22 August 1967 in Plön, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; secondly Ehrengard von Reden (born 7 June 1943) on 23 April 1976; thirdly Sibylle Kretschmer. He renounced his succession rights on 18 September 1967. His son Philip is from his first marriage, and his other children from his second.
  • Prince Michael of Prussia (22 March 1940 – 3 April 2014); married firstly Jutta Jörn (born 27 January 1943) on 23 Sep 1966 in Kaiserwerth, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, who bore him two children. He married secondly Brigitte von Dallwitz (born 17 September 1939) without issue. He renounced his succession rights on 29 August 1966.
  • Princess Marie Cécile of Prussia (born 28 May 1942)
  • Princess Kira of Prussia (27 June 1943 – 10 January 2004)
  • Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (25 August 1944 – 11 July 1977); married, as his first wife, Donata Countess of Castell-Rüdenhausen (born 20 June 1950 Rüdenhausen) on 23 May 1975 civilly and 24 May 1975 religiously at Rüdenhausen, who bore him two children. (She re-married 2 February 1991 her late husband's ex-brother-in-law, Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg)
  • Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia (born 14 March 1946), married Countess Nina Helene Lydia Alexandra zu Reventlow (born 13 March 1954) on 29 September 1984
  • Princess Xenia of Prussia (9 December 1949 – 18 January 1992), married Per-Edvard Lithander (10 September 1945) on 27 January 1973, divorced in 1978

Titles and styles[edit | edit source]

Monarchical styles of
German Emperor Louis Ferdinand, King of Prussia
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichsadler 1889.svg
Reference style His Imperial and Royal Majesty
Spoken style Your Imperial and Royal Majesty
Alternative style Sire
Louis Ferdinand, German Emperor
Born: 9 November 1907 Died: 26 September 1994
German royalty
Preceded by
Wilhelm III
German Emperor
King of Prussia

20 July 1951 – 5 April 1990
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
German Emperor
King of Prussia

5 April 1990 – 26 September 1994
Reason for succession failure:
Die Wende
Succeeded by
Georg Friedrich
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