zu Eulenburg-Hertefeld was born 150 years ago on 12th. February
1847. He would never have called himself homosexual,
but anyone who can have sex with a 19 year-old fisherman in a boat
on the Starnberger See (Bavaria) is not only an acrobat. Whatever
he calls himself, as Shakespeare put it a rose by any other
Eulenburg was a member of the group around Kaiser
Wilhelm II known as the table circle or the camarilla. This table circle was accused of
being responsible for a female, soft, policy in foreign
affairs. This peace policy was due to the Morocco
Crisis (1906) and the so-called Daily
Telegraph-Affair - turned into a political scandal.
Also involved in the Eulenburg Affair was Otto von Bismarck,
who held Eulenburg partly responsible for his dismissal from the
post of German Chancellor by the Kaiser in 1890.
Eulenburg and Militarist Machismo
The Table circle
The males of the Eulenburg-Hertefeld family were officers and
noblemen, loyal servants of the Prussian state, with their main
family estate in the Uckermarck in the province of Brandenburg.
The attitudes of the family were as those of other Prussian
nobility militarist, agrarian, and opposed to anything modern.Philipp
Eulenburg himself wanted to become a poet or painter, but was forced
by his father into starting a military career. He put up with the
conditions for two years, but then quit military service and due
to the torture of unjust and rough superiorsAfter studying
law and serving in the courts in 1877 he became a diplomat and took
over the post of Secretary of the Prussian Representative in Munich,
where he soon became known as a charming conversationalist
and for performing his own compositions - Rosenlieder.Nicolaus
Sombart write in his book Wilhelm II 
that Eulenburg, fulfilled his assignments as an official
and statesman with great self discipline ... wrote poetry and composed,
(but) he detested the conventions of the court life. Eulenburg was
a Prussian, but not devoted to the use of force.
He became acquainted with the future Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1886,
and this developed into a feverishly enthusiastic friendship.
Soon at the landed state of the Eulenburgs in Liebenberg,
a circles of friends met which included Count Kuno von Moltke and
was referred to by its enemies as the table circle or
camarillo. This became a centre of power which naturally aroused
jealousy and mistrust. Decisions were taken there which had great
consequences. They were not, of course taken under the influence
of any sort of democracy. It was decided in Liebenberg to replace
Bismarck, the political driving force behind the foundation of the
Second German Empire.
A powerful clique
Bismarck had a not very flattering opinion of Eulenburg: Not
to be taken seriously as a politician. As a diplomat in important
posts, unusable. He was speaking with the journalist Maximillian
Harden in 1892 and hinted at Eulenburgs supposed homosexuality,
and it is supposed that he gave Harden information which
could be used against Eulenburg and continued to do so, For
15 years Harden pursued a guerrilla war in his journal against the
camarilla and Eulenburg.
This was a rather odd turn for Harden, had written against Paragraph
175 in his own journal Die Zukunft (The Future) and Magnus Hirschfeld had also written
for Die Zukunft.
As early as 1894 Harden wrote, A powerful clique, about which
all sorts of unlawful entertaining reports could be related, is
making an effort to smooth the passage of Count Philipp Eulenburg
to Vienna. (Eulenburg was supposed to take up duties as ambassador
The group around Wilhelm II. was quite compromised with the sweeties
or pansies and queers. And sometimes it led to embarrassment.
During a visit to the Black Forest in the suite of the Kaiser, the
head of the Military Secretariat, Dietrich, Count von Hülsen-Häseler,
as a part of the evening entertainment performed a dance in a ballerinas
dress. During the dance he fell down dead. The circumstances of
the death were curiously - kept a secret.
The reputation of some of the pillars of society caused such concern
that in a special department of the Berlin police, precautionary
observation of the groups activities were undertaken.". A list drawn up by the Detective
Inspector Meerscheidt-Hüllessen included hundreds of homosexuals from
the most prominent circles with details of who had done what
with whom. Eulenburg was also on the list and also a remark
in a protocol of the Foreign Ministry indicated that an attempt had
been made to blackmail him during his time at the embassy in Vienna.
On the death of Meerscheidt-Hüllessen the collation of information
was carried on by a Detective Inspector von Treskow, and in 1896 he
informed Maximillian Harden about Eulenburg and his relations to the
then President of the Berlin Police, von Richthofen, as well as to
Count Kuno von Moltke, the Head of the Berlin Garrison. Harden,
however, at first was reticent in the use of the information about
the sexual activities because he was convinced of the difference between
the private and public lives of those concerned.
In 1902, however, Harden used information which he had obtained
about Prince Eulenburg - who was called Phili in the
table circle, to force Eulenburg to resign as Ambassador in Austria,
threatening to out him to publish details, if
he didnt do so. In November 1902 Eulenburg did in fact resign
and withdrew to his family estate in Liebenberg.
However, in 1905 Eulenburg began his table circle meetings
In April 1906, the German Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow collapsed
in the Reichstag. He did not belong to the table circle
although Eulenburg had suggested him as Chancellor, rumours spread
that Eulenburg was working towards replacing him with one of the
group, perhaps even Eulenburg himself.
Raymond Lecomte, a leading member of the French Embassy in Berlin,
(and an uncle of Jean Cocteau), attended a gathering at Liebenberg
from 7th to 10th November 1906. Like many a personality,
then and now, Lecomte was known as a homosexual, without
being out. Eulenburg, who was also known, - for his
readiness to compromise with the ancient enemi, and
he earned the hatred of all Francophobes, for this peace
policy. The extent of the intrigue amongst the ruling clique becomes
clear when we know that the German Chancellor von Bülow asked Detective
Inspector von Treskow for information which he could use against
It was many years since Prince Bismarck had warned Max Harden against
the international connections of the 'cinaedi' (= gays),
but when Harden heard of this latest meeting in Liebenberg where
this, homosexual, and on top of that a member of the French embassy
had been present at a meeting of the table circle with
the Kaiser, according to Count Holstein,
he fell into a fit of rage. The atmosphere of the era should be
remembered too with the race to re-arm, especially build
war ships, the war between Japan and Tsarist Russia, and the struggle
between European imperial powers for colonies.
Harden saw a connection between the brotherhood of men
around Wilhelm II. and the soft policy towards France
followed during the first Morocco Crisis.
These people are following polices which seriously damage
the German Empire. Right until the end Harden believed Eulenburg
and his group followed terrible, damaging policies which stink
to the heavens. If a circle of men with abnormal feelings
gain influence over the decisions of the rulers, that is a
danger to the fatherland, a national disaster. These
people he described as sentimental peace-mongers
A contribution appeared in the Der Zukunft at the end of November
1906 with code names which to those in the know
was clear who was meant. Harden referred to Harfner (Harpist
= Eulenburg) Süßen (Sweety = von Moltke) and Liebchen
(Deary = the Kaiser). A further article along the same lines brought
the table circle to capitulation. Eulenburg left for a
stay in Switzerland, but was already back in Liebenberg at the end
of January 1907. The French diplomat and homosexual, Lecomte, was
once again at the same table as the German Kaiser.
Harden was fully convinced that the German state was under threat
from homosexuals, and hoped by means of his attacks against Eulenburg,
to cut the tree off at its roots.
Article after article, Harden accused Eulenburg, von Moltke and
other of the table circle of homosexual activities and
pursuing an effeminate policy, which was close to high
He wrote to his friend Walter Rathenau, with the information I have (and that
no-one knows), I can launch a scandal that will echo around the
world. The princes and those close to the throne will for ever be
covered in dirt.
In the essay Scherzo - Harden mentioned that the Counts
Moltke and Hohenau had been given the Komthur Cross the family
order of the Hohenzollerns. Adding Phili had received
it long ago. (Feb 1907).
Hardly the stuff of the later yellow press, but it was enough.
The mention of Moltke and Phili in connection with the
name of Hohenau was clear and not to be misunderstood.
Between 1905 and 1907 20 army officers were condemned for homosexual
activity and six in 1906/07 committed suicide because they were
being blackmailed. In the garrison town of Potsdam, Count von Lynar
was accused of sexual misconduct and Count Hohenau, an aid-de-camp
of the Kaiser, Commander of the Life Guards, and a blood relative
of the Kaiser, was accused of activities forbidden by §175.
The Crown Prince was serving in Potsdam and spoke with his mílitary
superior, General von Kassel. He, however, had maintained a relationship
with an ex-police officer for years! At the end of May the Crown
Prince decided he must inform his father of the situation. The prince
believed he saw in his fathers face the horror at the information
his son brought him. Deary, now saw the full scale of
the chasm before him not least because he had himself taken
part in one of Eulenburgs boat trips in Bavaria. The Kaiser demanded action,
was given a list of leading members of society reduced to
15 from 100s tainted with homosexuality, and demanded
resignations or legal processes against their accusers to
Those who were unwise enough to take proceedings against their
accusers were doomed almost from the start. Although Harden sometimes
lost cases, and served prison sentences, the social stigma was enormous.
The several processes involving Eulenburg descended to the level
of a war of nerves, of lying, of real and pretended sickness, trial
by media. The main trial was never concluded, but interestingly
shortly before the Nazis took power, the records were destroyed.
Magnus Hirschfeld became involved as an expert witness, but later
withdrew his statement under threat of cross examination
about his own personal life. In the end no-one came out well from
the battle field, some top level officers resigned,
the power of the table circle was broken. The path for
the more aggressive circles was eased.
Eulenburg, the singer of Songs of the Roses, died in 1921.
Hardens empty victory
Hardens victory was pyrrhic as he himself later admitted.
After the 1st World War, he said that the campaign against
Eulenburg, was the worst mistake he had ever made. With the breaking
of the power of the Eulenburg Circle, Wilhelm II came under the
influence of the more aggressive circles in the German Empire. This
in turn smoothed the path to war as historians from several
countries have recognised.
Magnus Hirschfeld wrote in 1933: that the result of the regrettable
affair was no more and no less than a victory for the tendency
which ultimately led to the events of the world war.
Although the importance of the Eulenburg Affair, for the
internal and external history of the German Empire under Wilhelm
II can hardly be overestimated there are almost no references to
it in books dealing with the history of the period. Why?
C. de la Motte-Sherman
(1) Wilhelm II. Sündebock und
Herr der Mitte, Nicolaus Sombart, Verlag Volk und Welt,
Berlin 1996. ISBN 3-353-01066-1
(2) Iconography of a Scandal, James D.
Steakley, in Hidden from History. Eds.: Duberman,
Vicinius + Chauncey, Penguin, London 1991, ISBN 0-14-014363-7
(3) Ein Pitaval, Friedrich Karl Kaul,
Verlag Das Neue Berlin, Berlin, 1966
See also: Maximillian Harden: Portraits + Aufsätze: Ruth Greuner,
Reclam, Leipzig 1990, ISBN 3-379-00454-5
§ 175 The paragraph which criminalised some
sexual activities between men and which was severely sharpened
by the Nazis. That version was only watered down in the FRG in
 Der Tafelrunde literally the Table-round
but The Round Table gives the wrong impression.
 France sought to extend its influence in Morocco.
Germany was unhappy and sent a gun-boat.
 The Kaiser was interviewed and the result not aggressive
enough for the militarists.
 Songs of the Roses 500,000 copies were sold.
II. Sündenbock und Herr der Mitte
, Nicolaus Sombart, Verlag
Volk und Welt, Berlin 1996. ISBN 3-353-01066-1
 Harden was born Maximillian Witkowski, in Berlin,
of Jewish parents, in 1861.
 Die Zukunft: Founded by Harden in 1892; the title
was suggested by Franz Mehring.
 Influential diplomat in the German Foreign Office.
The Kaiser & Holstein hated each other and spoke privately
of the other as mad.
 A closetted homosexual, who became German Foreign
Minister in the Weimar Republic and was assassinated.
 Letter dated 20.6.1907
 Des Kaisers Freund und Barde, Andreas
Krause, Berliner Zeitung, 12.02.1997
 Die Freundschaft, Berlin 15, No. 2. (Feb
1933) quoted Steakley.