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A Magdeburg Merchant Remembers a Royal Visit (1880)

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At 8 p.m. the theater performance began. As my colleague and I – the hosts, as it were – welcomed the grand dignitaries on their approach, the Crown Prince offered yet another example of his captivating, joking affability and good mood, addressing me with the words: “My God, there you are again!” While the Lord Mayor and the head of the municipal deputies led the Crown Prince to the foyer, and while the Mayor and my colleague, Major Schrader, led Prince Friedrich Karl, I had the honor of accompanying Prince Wilhelm, our current imperial majesty. Following the festival production, the dignitaries had tea with the local ladies who had been invited to the performance, after which they returned to Berlin because the Crown Prince needed to catch the night train to St. Petersburg, where he would appear on behalf of his imperial father at the funeral of the Empress of Russia. His Highness did not forget to confirm that his adjutant had indeed brought along the bouquets. He wished to give them to his wife during their brief meeting in Berlin, where she intended to greet him at the Lehrter Bahnhof* when he passed through. Among the bouquets there was also one which my little daughter had given to him – unofficially, to be sure – and which he had taken from her with the kindest and friendliest words, not without mentioning, as he asked for her name, that he had met her father. The kind reader may forgive me for dwelling so extensively on this day and what it has meant to me personally, but it does represent a highlight among the reminiscences of my past.

* A train station – trans.

Source: Otto Pilet, Ein Rückblick auf mein Leben, insbesondere auf die Entwicklung des Handels in den letzten 50 Jahren [A Look Back at My Life, in Particular at the Development of Commerce in the Last Fifty Years]. Magdeburg, 1900, pp. 67-70.

Original German text reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter and Jürgen Kocka, eds., Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1870-1914. Dokumente und Skizzen [German Social History 1870-1914. Documents and Sketches], 3rd ed. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1982, pp. 73-75.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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