Prinz von Preussen Adalbert

Birth: 1811


Heinrich Wilhelm Adalbert (29 October 1811, - on 6 June 1873), Prince of Prussia,admiral, the carrier of the fleet idea in Prussia. In Berlin in the castle were the Prince William, youngest brother of King Frederick William III., and the Princess Marianne of Hesse-Homburg, who had been married since January 1804, had lost two daughters young, born twin sons, of whom the elder, Prince Thassilo, died again in early 1813, but the younger, Prince A., among the War storms of the following years grew up as a lively, healthy, amiable child, remaining so right in the country, first in Berlin and Schonhausen, then the summer over in the castle acquired by the father in 1820 Fischbach in the Silesian Giant Mountains. Nevertheless, the prince awakened very early the vivid interest in the sea, which was to determine his life: "if he needs the pencil, it was usually a ship," is reported by the boy. Of his parents, the noblest and noblest of couples, who surrounded the throne, we read that the sight of the sea, to which the war of 1806 also brought them, made a deep impression on them; but may from this side of the child's inclination have been directed from the beginning? It seems as if his youth, Count Julius v. Groeben, first filled the Prince's imagination with stories of his ancestor's voyages, the brave Brandenburg sailor of the Great Elector, Otto Friedrich v. Groeben, who founded Friedrichsburg in West Africa. of the "noble pilgrim" himself has described "oriental journeys". The fact that a missionary, who had been among the Eskimos in Labrador, taught religious instruction to the eleven-year-old prince, may not have remained without influence on his ideas.

But then it was none other than Field Marshal Gneisenau, at Erdmannsdorf Castle, the neighbor of the princely family, himself a seafaring man, and penetrated by the political and strategic importance of naval power, which was the frequent mutual visits Stone, to which prince - pairs, in particular, deepened the youth in his germinating predilection; as one of the few who confirmed his "naval passion" at that time, the prince calls him in 1865 in thankful memory.

In any case, the young prince has already kept a small fleet on the Fischbacher Schloßteiche, of which the mother repeatedly reports. Prinzeß Wilhelm, whose brothers were romping all over the world, has in general fostered the son's awakened ambition, in a loving and understanding way. In that outwardly pastless time the energetic and generous woman, with all her gentleness, was anxious to open to the sons another field of activity, than the ordinary peacetime career could offer to the prince. The brother, born in 1817, Prince Waldemar, fully shared the inclinations of Adalbert, he also strove out of the confines of everyday life to see foreign lands and peoples, was the most vivid desire of both brothers.

With Prince A., these inclinations must have been aimed at positive goals early on. Like every Prussian prince, he entered the army at the Guards' Infantry - from 1823 on he was led " à la suite of the 4th Guards Landwehr Regiment" at the 2nd Battalion (Koblenz), whose 1st Commander was his father; In 1829 he finds himself at the same time "aggregated in the 2nd Guards Regiment z. But in 1830 he was already able to obtain a service from the Guardsmen, whose service - which of course at that time was far from the hunter's ideal - with the greater preference for the absent-minded combat and the retreat of the closed exercise, was for him Prussian Sailors he dreamed of as a model. But the most important ship's weapon is artillery; Did the Prince have that in mind when he was assigned to the Guards Artillery in 1832? In any case, he remained true to this weapon - with a brief interruption of a service in the Regiment of the Gardes du Corps, 1834, - also his technical talent he could work here the most, and he served in it with such distinction that he promoted in 1838 to the colonel, 1839 Member of the Artillery Inspection Commission and leader of the Guards Artillery Brigade, but on July 31, 1843, when Major General, after the death of Prince Augustus of Prussia, became "First General Inspector of Artillery". On March 31, 1846 he was promoted to general lieutenant. Until then, however, the prince had gone through the most important experiences and experiences for his profession.

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His father had moved to Cologne in 1830 as governor-general of the provinces of Lower Rhine and Westphalia, and the prince was commanded to serve him. From here he undertook in the spring of 1832, with his friend Groeben and his adjutant, the son of Scharnhorst, a trip to Holland. Like the great Elector, the second seafaring Hohenzoller drew from this source his first knowledge of the sea. Of course, these were only memories of a great past that the prince found; The really great life at sea did not dawn on him until, in June 1832, he crossed over to the mighty rival of the Netherlands, to England. The impressions that the 21-year-old prince won here in a three-month stay remained crucial for his whole life: here he saw a cooperative of war- and storm-prized maritime heroes, a life and powerful organization of great traditions and still rising futures, facilities and provisions to which no second naval power approached. The manner of the weather-beaten sailors, as they showed themselves here, remained exemplary for the prince, and although we can not be inclined today to sympathize with this dependence on foreign countries, we must admit that for them Time just here was a huge merit of the prince. Compared to the prevailing spirit of military power in Prussia at that time, Prussia gave the Prince an instinctive, benign counterbalance to that foreign pattern of instinct for the truly seafaring. How strange it seems to us today, when the Prince of Prussia, who was friendly to Prince A and friendly to the pursuit of a Prussian naval power, writes in August 1853 how gripped he was by our war flag, our uniform and spiked helmet, our drum on board of a warship "to see and hear; against "Pickelhaube and drum" in the fleet, in the literal and figurative sense, Prince A. has had to fight many a good ostrich, not always with success. In his first public "call" for the Maritime Service, 1848, the Prince emphasized explicitly: "that it is by no means intended to use seafarers as soldiers on board the war vehicles, but will confine their duties only to the sailor service." In the same vein, the prince later succeeded, that the seafarers should also be counted sea-time on merchant ships as military service. The practical and dressy dark blue color of our sailor uniform is also due to the English impressions of the prince: the green of the Russian sailors was seriously in question for the developing Prussian Navy. When Prussian naval cadets first existed, the prince made sure that they could get to know the great bustle of the English fleet, not only in peace but also in war.

The knowledge of the sea was, therefore, the enduring profit for the prince of this trip to England; an engagement project that seems to have given the real reason to send him across the sea did not come to fruition. Shortly before this another project had failed, which had certainly not been without charm for the prince: in 1831 the French King Louis Philippe had offered Prince William the candidature of the royal crown of Greece for himself or for his son Adalbert. After the will of King Frederick William III. who at one time did not want to miss the consent of Russia and England, and on the other hand rightly doubted that Turkey would grant the border extension which the new king had to bring to the Greeks as a dowry, Prince William refused the offer.

The lake remained true to Prince A. from now on; In 1834, on the invitation of the Czar, he sailed with the Crown Prince on Russian corvette from Memel to Kronstadt, in addition to smaller Baltic Sea voyages. After traveling to Switzerland and France in 1836, he followed a new invitation from the Czar to southern Russia in 1837, and then traveled with the archduke Johann on an Austrian warship from Sebastopol via Constantinople, Smyrna, Athens, Korfu to Trieste.

During these years he also came to speak for the native sea creature a word. Since then there were in Prussia whole two "war vehicles" that could sail the sea, a schooner and a Haffkanonenboot, in Stralsund; as the schooner began to rot, the Ministry of War believed that it had to abandon the intent to continue building since the liberation wars, "because the little salty waters of the Baltic Sea are not favorable to a navy." However, the king was not inclined to lose sight of the sea-gun as a "true increase of national power." To the commission for the consultation of the naval question the 25 year old prince A. was drawn in 1836, not as a member, but as a seaworthy officer, whose judgment already had validity: he took "active and competent share", and his far-foresight proves one Memorandum in which, at his request, an English captain summarized his thoughts on the Prussian navy, and which at the same time reflected the thoughts of the prince: the power of steam, whose superiority was still disputed at that time, should be of use to Prussia to obtain from the outset enormous naval power ". By the way, as the old English admirals clung to the sailing ships, this proves incidentally that the Prince's preference for English conditions by no means limited the independence of his judgment. The memorandum was submitted by the crown prince to the king; but it had no practical result, and certainly could not have it, for cost, at that time the decisive obstacle of every major plan. With the arrival of King Frederick William IV, the first Prussian corvette, Amazone, was launched in Szczecin in 1843, shortly after the return of Prince A. from distant lands.

"A major voyage was the main motive that drove me out into the distance, for such was one of my favorite desires almost from childhood, while my brisk imagination, attracted by the wonders of the tropical world, gave this quest a more definite direction." Prince himself on the reasons that led him to be sent by the King as the bearer of the Black Eagle Order to the Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil. There was no Prussian ship to which the prince could trust himself; he was dependent on hospitality. Queen Victoria of England as well as King Charles Albert of Sardinia offered a warship for this purpose; the Italian ship [ 783 ] was accepted, perhaps for political reasons, and after making a journey through Italy to Sicily and Malta with his father and brother, the prince left on June 14, 1842, with his two traveling companions, the captain General Staff Count Oriola [WS 1] and the Lieutenant in the Guards Dragoon Regiment Count Bismarck aboard the frigate "San Michele", which remained his home for almost a year. If one reads the prince's diary on this journey, which he had printed as a manuscript in 1847, adorned with his drawings of nature, then, in addition to the suggestive descriptions of nature and scientific observations, which, according to the judgment of Alexander v. Chr. Humboldt, "give a pleasant, vivid picture of the seen and experienced", surprisingly the abundance of technical expertise in the sea, which the Prince had already acquired as it were only occasionally.

On September 5, 1842, Rio de Janeiro was reached; Dom Pedro, of course, received the prince with high honors, gave him, among other things, a self-painted oil painting of Frederick the Great, and kept the Prince's residence, which lasted until the end of October, 1842, in such good memory that he received a medal to commemorate this "Aportou Ao R De Janeiro, of which in 1846 he sent two gold and five silver copies to Berlin for the next of the prince's relatives. It shows the bust of the "Principe Adalberto" in general's uniform, decorated with the stars of the "Southern Cross".

Apart from a three-week ride into the interior of Rio, the prince undertook a research trip on the Amazon Stream and its mighty tributary, the Xingú, areas that before him were only Alexander V. Humboldt and Leopold v. Book and still offer explorers an unexhausted field. For this purpose, the prince brought an English frigate to Parà, the six weeks long, strenuous river journey lasted until January 2, 1843. In Bahia, the "San Michele" was again reached, and on it on January 21, the journey home commenced; On March 7, the prince left the Italian ship in Lisbon to return via London to Berlin, where he arrived on March 27, 1843.

Here his new activity as General Inspector of Artillery offered him, perhaps, at first a somewhat rough change, against the free life of the tropics and the soul. But with understanding and energy he devoted himself to his service, since 1847 as sole Generalinspecteur; at that time he sought, among other things, to bring about the separation of field and foot artillery, which, to the benefit of both arms, was carried out only after the campaign of 1870-71; Here, too, he looked far ahead.

So far the prince had lived in Berlin with his parents in the royal castle; Now, in the castle of Monbijou, he got his own homestead, where, in accordance with his joyous and lively temperament, he enjoyed a cheerful sociability. A few years before his long journey, the prince had met the dancer Therese Elsler [WS 2], the sister of the more famous Fanny Elsler [WS 3], in Berlin, and made a lasting connection with her. The prince seems to have taken the relation very seriously from the beginning. But it was understandable that it would take years before the conflicting weighty and certainly justifiable obstacles and difficulties were overcome. Here the prince of Prussia seems to have remembered the prince's wishes, considering his own heart experiences. On April 20, 1850, the morganatic marriage took place with the "Baroness von Barnim". The prince's only son, Adalbert von Barnim, who was born on April 22, 1841, as amiable as talented, died on July 12, 1860, in Egypt, where he had traveled for his tender health, which prematurely ended his military career was; for the loving heart of the prince a heavy, not to be overcome blow. The solid connection then also required the founding of a separate house; On the south side of Leipzigerplatz in Berlin, the prince built a small palace according to his wishes, but with all its simplicity he put more strain on the basic budget, which was still not tailored to a budget, than would have been desirable for his external independence. Until very recently, the prince had suffered from these not very pleasing difficulties.

The events of 1848 called the prince to another area in his actual profession. After surviving the march days in Monbijou, he went to the Schleswig-Holstein theater of war in June 1848, eager to finally set himself on fire, which his brother Waldemar had already received in 1845 in the Indian campaign with the most commendable distinction. With his inborn contempt for death Prince A. rode well into the bullets of the Danish gunboats to better observe these vehicles. Here he realized from his own experience how difficult the lack of a fleet was for the Danes - an insight that broke through all of Germany with elemental force in those days. When Denmark's old and poorly manned frigates lay "as it were the ax to Germany's trade" in front of the German ports, public opinion blamed all the blame on the Bundestag: now a fleet was to be created in months, to which England had taken centuries. But the men of the National Assembly to Frankfurt a. M., who now had the task of making the popular will a reality, had to realize how true the word of General v. Radowitz was what he said in Paulskirche at the time: "A people that sets itself the task of creating a naval power thus enters into one of the greatest undertakings that it is capable of providing".

Prince A. was allowed to count himself among the few who thought and had come for a fleet even without the external compulsion of necessity. Now he had the satisfaction of seeing his eyes turn to him in the narrower and wider country, when it was time to move on to action. In April 1848 the Danish war in Prussia prompted the meeting of a "Commission for the Defense of the Baltic Sea Coasts"; the prince was entrusted with the presidency. The private fleet committees forming in the Prussian maritime cities also called the prince to their head. In the Commission he upheld his ever-controversial idea of ??the necessity of seaworthy warships against the sole adherence to a merely defensive gunboat fleet: "it would no longer be enough to deny landing on the coast, the entry of enemy ships into the ports and inland waters that their blockade must also be confronted offensively, and finally a German navy on open seas should give German maritime trade protection, the German flag respect. " In May 1848, the Prince elaborated on the various ways of establishing a navy in his "Memorandum on the Formation of a German Fleet" which first appeared in print in Potsdam "for the good of the German fleet", then also from Frankfurt a. M. was disseminated by the Naval Committee of the Federal Assembly, and who made the name of the prince widely known. It would scarcely have been necessary for her to induce the Reichsverweser, Archduke Johann, the friend of the Prince, to summon him to his side for the German navy; On October 13, 1848, the Archduke wrote to the king: "The rich treasure of knowledge and experience possessed by Prince Adalbert of Prussia in the field of technology and nautical matters makes me recognize in him the only man who is with me difficult business, to assist me with his enlightened advice. "

In Frankfurt, the Prince took over the chairmanship of the "Marine Technical Commission" and conducted the business until February 1849 "with admirable dedication of all personal and professional relations, with amiable calm and security, always endeavoring to promote and regulate the course of the matter." During these months, the Rules of Service on board, the Exercise Regulations for Naval Artillery, the Discipline Procedure, the Uniform Rules were drafted. For the production of the fleet itself, the prince believed that within ten years he would have to bring to bear 60 million dollars, to which the king Friedrich Wilhelm ironically attached the justified wish: "They must be decreed and thus deprived of the capacity of incompetent chambers of estates."

The prince's "preparatory work" was not given a lasting, practical sphere of action: after a brief existence the German fleet found an inglorious end, with necessity for nature, since there was no "state" at that time, on which it could rest. It was thanks to the state of Prussia that at least the navy found firmer ground there, and after the storms of 1848, with frequent wavering, moved steadily forward. Inseparable from this development, which we can not possibly pursue here, Prince A. linked. His whole life was henceforth filled with the work of the Prussian fleet, an activity which was for the most part a struggle, a struggle which the prince considered right and desirable, a struggle for what was either attainable or really necessary the growth and independence of the navy - which is only today achieved since our emperor himself, as commander-in-chief, has been directly at the helm of the navy - a struggle which, despite the gradual ascension we now recognize, for the prince of tragedy was not lacking, and also for the tragic guilt: the separation of the commandos and the administration of the navy took place after the entrance of the regency on the prince's own motion - a measure of fatal consequence, the root of constant friction between the "upper command "And the" Ministry ", the germ of the" Fronde "of the naval officers - difficulty whose victims were the prince after all.

But how much had already been achieved when there was only "something" at all, when in 1849 the Prince became "Commander-in-Chief over all equipped military vehicles", 1853 "Commander in Chief of the Navy", 1854 but at the same time "Admiral of the Prussian coasts"; By this time, however, the naval affairs had grown so much that the prince had to renounce the general inspection of the artillery, which had hitherto been conducted. From 1859 onwards, significantly, the "coastal" addition to the Admiralty title remained; The nasty slogan "Oberkahnfuhrer", which had been attached to the prince in court circles, was now quite out of place. In June 1856, the Prince was able to sail for the first time as a squadron commander with five Prussian ships. The most important acquisition for the development of the navy for the foundation of a station on the North Sea, the Jadebusen, was not to thank the smallest part of the prince's untiring effort: the memorial erected there in Wilhelmshaven in 1882 is a well-deserved outward sign for this.

With his right feelings for the psychology of the sea, the prince recognized that for the equality of the navy with the land army it was necessary that she understand how to fight. In 1849, when he had welcomed with joyful satisfaction a small battle of the armored post-steamship "Prussian eagle" at the height of Briickenort near Hela, as the first Prussian naval weapon, he did not consider his own person as too precious a prince-admiral to use against African reef pirates. Since then, the Prussian merchant drivers had been defenseless at the mercy of this plague of the Mediterranean, unless English warships accidentally took their place. Thus, in 1853, a Prussian brig of Kabyles was looted on the coast of Morocco at Cap Tres Forcas; Eclatant satisfaction should be taken. The prince planned a comprehensive expedition to destroy the mischief, and theoretically prepared it with all its thoroughness. But the bondage of the situation, z. Th. The Crimean War, postponed all plans, and the Prince's own determination was part of the fact that it finally came to a more accidental punishment of the robbers. On that first exercise of Prussian warcraft outside the native waters in the summer of 1856, he himself went on the corvette "Danzig" to the Mediterranean; On the 7th of August the boats reconnoitring on the coast were shot at by Kabyles at Tres Forcas; the honor of the Prussian flag demanded immediate atonement. With 68 men, among them, indicative of the Prince's mode of thinking, 14 naval officers and cadets, the prince landed under the fire of the Kabyle and charged up the steep rocky coast, until the overwhelming force forced him to retreat: 6 dead and 18 wounded cost him Fight, and the prince himself carried off a wound on the left thigh, the healing of which required several weeks. His adjutant had fallen at his side. "The navy will never forget that, and the Fatherland and our family will also thank you for taking this opportunity to seal the call of bravery we have with your noble blood. The pain of the light wound soon passes; their honor and the fame of the bold deed remain eternal, "wrote his nephew, Prince Friedrich Karl. The Federal Envoy v. Bismarck, however, wrote to General v. Gerlach : "I can not agree with the versatile humane condemnation of the Prince Admiral. A few drops of royal blood fertilize the honor of the army, and it is better that our virgin flag smell with decency, albeit with misfortune, powder. Our navy must be heard of, so that we forgive her the small and slow beginning. " The king gave the "enterprising cousin" the swords to the Rothen Adlerorden. That had not been heard since the days of the Great Elector, that the Hohenzollern State undertook to defend itself at sea too-that is the true meaning of this, in itself, minor action.

In the real war, the Prussian navy was far from strong enough to compete with a naval power. In spite of the prince of the contrary view, whom we came to know, she remained, for the most part, a coastal fleet, as was the case at the time when the means were limited, since above all it was certainly true to obtain the proper strength of war on land, and At the same time, both tasks could not have been carried out by the state, which was still on the rise and by no means already had its full strength.

Thus, in 1864, the Danish fleet as a whole remained master of the Prussian coasts, and even the operations of the army could not find the desirable support at sea. But the little Prussian navy did not lack in enterprise, in the spirit of the prince, and the prince himself in his plans met with the thoughts of none other than Moltke's : Prince A.'s first thought was of landing on Funen, in Moltke was determined then in the second half of the war to seek the decision. In any case, the course of the war gave the Prince only a new incentive for his further work for the navy, a task for which the understanding in the decisive circles grew ever more. Of the two armored vehicles still purchased during the war, the one was baptized in 1865 "Prince Adalbert" - the first ship that bore a Hohenzollern name.

In the war of 1866 it could be foreseen that the Italian fleet would be claimed by the Italian fleet, so that the Prussian coasts would not face any immediate danger. So the prince could hurry to where his heart drew him to the place of danger. Transferred to the High Command of the Crown Prince's Army, the Prince joined the staff of the Vth Army Corps under General V. Steinmetz, as soon as he could assume that this would come first in the battle. Again he proved his fearlessness and contempt for death: at Nachod and at Skalitz he rode in the sharpest depths of infantry into the line of gunners. "Because of his bad eyesight," and again the officer in charge of his adjutant fell at his side; the brave Silesians greeted the knightly prince with cheers.

While it was in the course of the campaign that the prince was deprived of his true vocation, this fate also affected him in the French war of 1870-1871. What reasons were decisive here to call him back to land warfare from the supreme command of the divided and blokirten naval forces, can not be seen. It was fair to suppose that there would be no great action at sea. but the fleet was still in a state of war, so it must have been the place of the Prince Admiral.

In the summer of 1870, a major squadron journey had just begun: it was a mishap that, of the four armored ships put into service, three suffered damage that was not insignificant at the time of departure. With this squadron the prince was in the days before the declaration of war west of Plymouth on the high seas; just in time he escaped the French North Sea Fleet, which seriously expected to cut him off from Cherbourg. But then he had to leave the seashore; he was "allowed to take part in the forthcoming campaign with the army," and again he joined the headquarters of General V. Steinmetz, who led the I. Army. He was always there when it came to the Bataille: on 14 August he rode with the top of the 7th hunters of the Brigade Goltz into action; on the 18thIn August, a horse was shot dead in the gun line of VII Corps off Gravelotte by infantry fire, another wounded. Then he spent weeks with Metz, without proper activity; Steinmetz often invited him to the table, where he was always a welcome guest. Later the prince went to Great Headquarters in Versailles, here the center of all maritime news and considerations; It was a joyful day when he could present to the King a small crew of sailors, who were destined for the occupation of some looted barges on the Loire.where he was always a welcome guest. Later the prince went to Great Headquarters in Versailles, here the center of all maritime news and considerations; It was a joyful day when he could present to the King a small crew of sailors, who were destined for the occupation of some looted barges on the Loire.where he was always a welcome guest. Later the prince went to Great Headquarters in Versailles, here the center of all maritime news and considerations; It was a joyful day when he could present to the King a small crew of sailors, who were destined for the occupation of some looted barges on the Loire.

In this great time Prince's life went quietly, and even after the war he did not take over the command of the High Command, but instead he was appointed "General Inspector of the Navy," an office which had a direct [ 788 ]Intervention in further development excluded; It was expressly stipulated that his reports had nothing to say except as to whether the service company would bring the "rules" - which he no longer enacted - "to fruitful execution." But unchanged and undiminished, the prince used the brief life left to him to serve the navy with its wealth of knowledge, namely the best kind of newly acquired ships of the now "German" fleet. So he went to England in early May 1873 to inform himself about shipbuilding. On June 4, 1873, his report to the Admiralty on these investigations dates: at 6.30 am on June 6, he unexpectedly died in Karlsbad at the stroke of the heart, actually working to the last breath for the fleet to which he had dedicated his life. On 12.June 1873 he was buried in Berlin in the cathedral; Deputations of the naval officers and naval troops, the Guards Artillery, and the 1st Thuringian Infantry Regiment No. 31, whose boss had been the Prince since 1862, stood by his coffin.

Outwardly the Prince was also the type of a genuine naval officer, with his stately, stolid face, his beardless, good, brave face, always in the admiral's uniform, his cap slightly pushed back. Faithfulness, bravery, goodness of heart and modesty are, in addition to his penetrating expertise, the most characteristic qualities of the Prince Admiral, in whom our fleet reveres its founder. It was a most fortunate coincidence that in those close, quiet times the lust for the sea awoke in a Hohenzollern prince, and filled him with true understanding of it. "For a growing people no prosperity without spread; no expansion without overseas policy, and no overseas policy without fleet ", this word of Prince A. seems in our day of obvious truth;For him, however, it meant a program whose knowledge raised him above the average of time and whose probation guaranteed him an honorable place for all time in the historical development of the fatherland. His name, which the third son of our Emperor, who is destined for the maritime service, will remain a auspicious sign to our fleet.

Adalbert Prince of Prussia, from my diary 1842-1843. Berlin 1847; - the same, memorandum on the formation of a German naval fleet. Potsdam 1848; Frankfurt a.M. 1848. - Batsch, Admiral Prince Adalbert of Prussia. Berlin 1890. - W. Baur, Prinzeß Wilhelm of Prussia. Hamburg 1886. - A. Jordan, History of the Brandenburg-Prussian Navy. Berlin 1856.


Herman Granier, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Vol. 45 (1900), p. 779-788.

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