by Susan Flantzer
Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, the second wife of Wilhelm II, formerly German Emperor, was born on December 17, 1887 in Greiz, Principality of Reuss-Greiz, German Empire (now in Germany). She was the fifth of the sixth children of Heinrich XXII, Prince Reuss of Greiz and his wife Princess Ida of Schaumburg-Lippe. Hermine had one brother and four sisters:
- Heinrich XXIV, Prince Reuss of Greiz (1878–1927), unmarried
- Princess Emma (1881–1961), married Graf Erich von Ehrenburg, had issue
- Princess Marie (1882–1942), married Freiherr Ferdinand von Gnagnoni, no issue
- Princess Caroline (1884–1905), married Wilhelm Ernst, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, no issue
- Princess Ida (1891–1977), married Fürst Christoph Martin III zu Stolberg-Roßla, had issue
On January 7, 1907, Hermine married Prince Johann Georg von Schoenaich-Carolath, who died in 1920 from tuberculosis. Hermine and Johann Georg had five children:
- Prince Hans Georg von Schönaich-Carolath (1907 – 1943), married Baroness Sibylle von Zedlitz und Leipe, killed in action during World War II
- Prince Georg Wilhelm von Schönaich-Carolath (1909 – 1927), died unmarried
- Princess Hermine von Schönaich-Carolath (born 9 May 1910), married Hugo Herbert Hartung
- Prince Ferdinand von Schönaich-Carolath (1913 –1973), married (1) Rose Rauch, married (2) Baroness Margret von Seckendorff
- Princess Henriette von Schönaich-Carolath (1918 – 1972), married Prince Karl Franz of Prussia (grandson of Wilhelm II, German Emperor and only child of Prince Joachim of Prussia), had three children including Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia whose wife Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia is a claimant to the Headship of the Imperial Family of Russia
In January of 1922, one of Hermine’s sons sent birthday wishes to Wilhelm II, formerly German Emperor, living in exile at Huis Doorn in Doorn, the Netherlands, who then invited the boy and his mother to Doorn. Wilhelm found Hermine very attractive and greatly enjoyed her company. Having both been recently widowed, the two had much in common. Wilhelm was determined to marry Hermine despite objections from his children. 63-year-old Wilhelm and 34-year-old Hermine married on November 5, 1922 in Doorn. Although Wilhelm had abdicated, he continued to use his royal styles and titles and therefore Hermine was styled Her Imperial Majesty The German Empress, Queen of Prussia.
Hermine’s youngest child Princess Henriette came to live with Hermine and Wilhelm at Huis Doorn. Wilhelm stayed out of his stepchildren’s affairs, with the exception of Henriette. He seemed to have a genuine affection for her, and she came to be known as “the general”. On August 6, 1940 at his residence at Doorn, Wilhelm officially announced the engagement of his stepdaughter Princess Henriette and his grandson Prince Karl Franz of Prussia, the only child of Wilhelm’s son Prince Joachim who had committed suicide in 1920. The couple married at Huis Doorn on October 5, 1940, had three children, and divorced in 1946.
Hermine returned to Germany after Wilhelm’s death in 1941. After World War II, Hermine was held under house arrest at Frankfurt an der Oder in the Soviet Zone of Germany. She died at Paulinenhof, a Soviet internment camp near Brandenburg, Germany on August 7, 1947. She was buried at the Temple of Antiquities in Potsdam, Germany where Wilhelm’s first wife, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, and several other family members are also buried.