|Brownshirts leader Ernst Roehm|
To his credit, Crown Prince Rupprecht was never taken in by the vague promises of the Nazis. It was all a deception of course as, privately, Hitler admitted, “that he couldn’t stand Rupprecht von Bayern” and never had any intention of restoring him to his throne. Fortunately, there were considerable numbers of loyal Bavarian monarchists who did support the heir-to-the-throne and as the Nazi Party grew in power, others in Bavaria increasingly looked to Crown Prince Rupprecht for their political salvation. The royal war hero commanded sufficiently widespread support in Bavaria to be seen as a potential savior from the Nazis, pushing some that were probably not monarchists at all to get behind the idea of a royal restoration. Despite being born in Bavaria, the Nazi Party actually had less support there than most would think. Finally, as the Nazis grew in power throughout Germany, Bavarian politicians began to look to Crown Prince Rupprecht as their savior. The Crown Prince himself certainly thought something needed to be done to spare Bavaria from Nazi rule and offered to step in and take charge of the government himself if no one else had the spine to stand up to Hitler.
When he hoped to gain monarchist support, Hitler tried to give the impression that he would restore the monarchy in Bavaria (as in other parts of Germany depending on who he was talking to) and enlisted prominent Bavarians to try to convince the Crown Prince to endorse the Nazis. Ernst Roehm was one such figure as was his former Freikorps commander Franz Ritter von Epp, a former friend of the Crown Prince and a former monarchist but one who had abandoned that to embrace the Nazi cause. None of them succeeded. While on a visit to King George V of Great Britain, Crown Prince Rupprecht stated that he supported a “reasonable” German rearmament but felt certain that Hitler was completely insane. He still held out hope that the monarchy would be restored but, unlike some, he had the wherewithal to realize that it would not be because of the Nazis, despite their many implied or overt promises. Nor was the Crown Prince alone as there were many devout, traditional, Catholic Bavarian monarchists who were determined to resist the Nazis. One of the most prominent was Baron Adolf von Harnier but he was found out by the Gestapo and arrested in 1939.
|Adolf Freiherr von Harnier|
One of the problems that the Nazis had with the Bavarian royal house (and some other German monarchists did as well) was their openness toward secession and the break-up of Germany. In 1942 a British diplomat who met with the Crown Prince reported that he envisioned a South German monarchy that would include Bavaria and the Austrian-Tyrol while the Rhineland and Hanover would form another state and Schleswig, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Saxony and Posen combining to form another that would separate western Europe from the Soviets. At least that was one idea. In 1943 the Crown Prince sent a memorandum to the British government volunteering to take charge of things in Germany when the Nazi regime collapsed, seemingly implying his willingness to assume the role of German Kaiser. However, more common was the proposal of joining Austria to Bavaria in a new South German monarchy. Unfortunately, after 1943, things became much more dangerous for the Bavarian Royal Family. The King of Italy dismissed Mussolini and began trying to extricate Italy from the Axis and the war. The Germans promptly began moving in to take control of as much of the Italian peninsula as possible.
|The Crown Prince & Princess in Italy|