Lippe Biesterfeld, Bernard, born 29-06-1911 in Jena, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Thüringen, the elder son of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, younger brother of Leopold IV, Prince of Lippe, the reigning Prince of Lipe and Armgard of Sierstorpff-Cramm. Because the marriage of his parents did not properly conform to the marriage laws of the House of Lippe and was therefore morganatic, Bernhard was born with the title of “Count” only. In 1916, the Reigning Prince of Lippe, Leopold IV, granted Bernhard the title of “Prince of Lippe-Biesterfeld”. After World War I, Bernhard’s family lost their German principality and the revenue that had accompanied it. But the family was still wealthy and Bernhard spent his early years at Reckenwalde, the family’s new estate in East Brandenburg thirty kilometers east of the Oder-river, near the city of Züllichau. He received his early education at home. When he was twelve, he was sent to board at the gymnasium in Züllichau and several years later to board at a gymnasium in Berlin, from which he graduated in 1929. Bernhard suffered from poor health as a boy. Doctors predicted that he would not live very long. This prediction might have been the key to Bernhard’s reckless driving and the risks that he took in the Second World War and thereafter. The prince wrecked several cars and planes in his lifetime. Like many members of his family, such as his cousin Princess Marie Adelheid of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Bernhard was a member of the Nazi Party, the Sturmabteilung and a special branch of the SS called the “Reiter SS”-. The Prince was not a Nazi by conviction, these memberships made life easier for an ambitious young man. The Prince later denied that he belonged to SS, but these are well-documented memberships. This German aristocrat was never a fierce champion of democracy, but there are no accounts of him ever having made fascist or anti-Semitic remarks. In the 1930s, with the rise of Adolf Hitler, Prince Bernhard’s younger brother Aschwin pulicly declared his support for the Nazis.
Aschwin. Grave Aschwin.
Prince Bernhard was a member of the honorary German Reiter SS Corps. The Prince eventually went to work for the German chemical giant IG Farben, then the world’s fourth-largest company. The Prince’s brother, Prince Aschwin of Lippe-Biesterfeld, was an officer in the German army. Although the secret services on both sides were interested in this peculiar pair of brothers, no improper contacts or leaks of information were discovered. The Prince showed himself to be a loyal Dutch citizen and officer. He cut off relations with the members of his family who were enthusiastic Nazis. As a sign of his “Dutchness” he spoke only Dutch when negotiating the surrender of German forces in the Netherlands. The Prince was known to be very fond of smart uniforms and medals. He made a point of wearing his medals in the English court style, even though members of the Dutch armed forces wear their medals in the Prussian style. The Prince’s mother was no admirer of the Nazis and got into trouble for refusing to hoist the swastika flag on her country seat at Reckenwalde. The Nazi government did not take kindly to her as the mother of an allied General and she was evicted from her home. Prince Bernhard began to make himself popular and trusted in the eyes of the Dutch people at the outset of World War II. During the German Invasion, the Prince, carrying a machine gun, organized the palace guards into a combat group and shot at German planes. The Royal Family fled the Netherlands and took refuge in England. In disagreement with Queen Wilhelmina’s decision to leave the Kingdom, the young prince consort aged 28, initially refused to go and wanted to oppose the Nazi occupation from within its borders, but eventually agreed to join her as head of the Royal Military Mission based in London. Once safely there, his wife Princess Juliana and their children went on to Canada, where they remained until the end of the war. On 25-06-1940, three days after France fell to the German war machine, Bernhard spoke on the Overseas Service of the BBC, calling Hitler (see Adolf Hitler) a German tyrant and expressing his confidence that Great Britain would defeat the Third Reich. In 1941, Prince Bernhard was given the honorary rank of wing commander in the Royal Air Force. He then trained as a pilot and gained his wings later that same year. As “Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson From 1942 to 1944, Bernhard flew as a pilot with the Royal Air Force. He also helped organise the Dutch resistance movement and acted as personal secretary for Queen Wilhelmina. By 1944, Prince Bernhard became Commander of the Dutch armed forces and his adjutant was Brigade General Mickey Beelaers Blokland
. The Prince was also good friends with the Channel Crosser , RAF pilot and adjutant of Queen Wilhelmina, Erik Hazelhoff/Roelzema. After the liberation of the Netherlands, he returned with his family where he became active in the negotiations for the German surrender. He was present during the armistice negotiations together with the Canadian General Charles Foulkus and German surrender in Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen in the Netherlands on 05-05-1945, where he refused to speak German to Generaloberst Johannes Albricht Blaskowitz. In 1961 he met for the first time President John F. Kennedy in the White House.
Death and burial ground ofLippe Biesterfeld, Bernard Leopold Friedrich Eberhard Julius von.
Prince Bernhard died of intestine cancer at the age of 93 in the hospital University of Utrecht Medical Centre on 01-12-2004, old age 93, until his death he suffered from malignant lung and intestinal tumors. On 11-12-2004, he was interred in a lavish state funeral at the Nieuwe Kerk, Delft.
General Kinnard and resistance lady Gemmeker.