The Hohenzollern Debate: The German Royal Family and the Nazis

In Germany, a fierce debate has recently developed on the links between the old royal family Hohenzollern and the Nazis. This issue was raised after the Hohenzollern had claimed restitution from the state for the Soviet expropriations of their property after 1945. In order to get approval for its claim, the Hohenzollern family has to prove that their ancestors did not substantially support the Nazis in their rise to power. In the ensuing legal proceedings and public discussion over this issue historians have become sought-after experts and important witnesses. Stephan Malinowski is one of them.

This event is on-site only and will take place in the Aula (Old Lutheran Church)

In his book, winner of the prestigious 2022 Deutscher Sachbuchpreis (German non-fiction award), Malinowski analyses the symbolic-political alliance of the Hohenzollern and the Nazis. By analyzing the family’s life in Weimar Germany and beyond he shows how it was actively involved in conservative and right-wing circles hostile to the Weimar democracy. Even before the book came out, Malinowski presented extensive evidence of the Hohenzollern family’s support for the National Socialists. For some of his statements in the media, he has since 2015 been under legal attack by the current “head of the house” Hohenzollern, who has also brought dozens of similar complaints against newspapers, radio stations, politicians and historians. The Hohenzollern aim to defend the image, carefully shaped in the past ten years, of the family’s political role as insignificant. In line with this, the last Crown Prince has even been portrayed as an active opponent of National Socialism. A juridical clarification of the Hohenzollerns’ material claims before the court in Potsdam, which will have to be based on the historians’ findings, is still pending. The next hearing will take place in the spring of 2023.

About the speakers

Stephan Malinowski studied and taught history in Berlin, France, Italy, the USA, and Ireland. Since 2012, he is a professor for European history at the University of Edinburgh. His previous book Nazis and Nobles received various awards. The expert opinion, which he prepared on behalf of the state of Brandenburg in 2014, plays an important role in the discussion about the restitution claims asserted by the “head of the house” of Hohenzollern.

Hanco Jürgens (moderator) is a member of the academic staff at the Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam. He specializes in German and modern European history. He published on a variety of topics, such as the history of Dutch German relations, German EU-policy, the Third Way, and German missionaries in India in the Eighteenth Century. Currently, he focuses on the history of Germany since the fall of the Wall.

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