Letter to Lord Chamberlain Hugo Radolinski ¹

Dated January 1, 1888

Page 1 of 1

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Berlin, 1 January 1888.



Your Highness 2


          Today I wanted to express my personal thanks &

good wishes for the New Year.

Since I missed you at home, I don't want to

fail to make up for it in writing.

          At the same time, I left behind an envelope with

a few small printed materials with the door-keeper,

which could perhaps be of some in-

terest to His Imperial Highness. 3

I ask the materials be permitted to be taken along to

S. Remo 4 at some time. 

         I would also like to add some words of re-

assurance. However, I can not say anymore

than what in fact other statements 5 have

already made known, that so far the ev-

idence does not prove the cancerous nature of the growth.

This finding is unfortunately very incomplete

& not without great contradictions.

          Dear Count, 6 please accept the assurance

of my very special high esteem.

R. Virchow


Dr. Thor Jager's transcription of this letter.  Personal notes by Dr. Jager concerning the letter.

1.   This communication from Virchow is directly addressed to Count Hugo Radolinski (also Radolinsky), the Court Marshal to the Crown Prince. Whether with this letter Virchow was answering an inquiry from the Crown Prince or Radolinski we cannot be certain.  Hugo Radolinski was the Court Marshal to Crown Prince Frederick III for a few years leading up to the Prince's ascension to the throne and during his brief reign.  Count Radolinski was called in by Bismarck to replace Karl von Norman who had been fired by Bismarck because of his involvement in setting up a meeting between the Crown Prince and the liberal leader Eugen Richter.  Count Radolinski was a Bismarckian operative who reported weekly to the Chancellor on the activities of the Crown Prince and Princess.  He was known to have intercepted telegrams and letters and spread gossip concerning the Royal Household.  It seems that for a time both the Prince and Princess were unaware of the actual nature of Radolinski’s service in their household.  The service of Radolinski is often contrasted with that of Count Seckendorff who was the true and faithful Chamberlain to the Crown Princess.  Seckendorff and Princess Victoria were the prime targets of much of the slander and gossip circulated by Radolinski and Bismarckian loyals.    Back

  Andrew Sinclair, The Other Victoria (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981) pp. 185,197, 211;  John Van der Kiste, Frederick III German Emperor 1888 (Great Britan: Sutton, 1981) pp. 178;  Patricia Kollander, Frederick III Germany’s Liberal Emperor (London: Greenwood Press, 1996) pp. 168. 

2.  Virchow's salutaion is difficult to exactly translate.  He use's the greeting of "Euer Hochgeboren" which translates directly into English as "your highborn".  Although this greeting indicates that the addressee was of some nobility, it does not match the highest form of formal greeting that would normally be used when addressing the Crown Prince.  In light of this we can be fairly certain that this letter was directly sent to Count Radolinski and not the Crown Prince.  Translating the salutation "Euer Hochgeboren" as "Your Highness" most likely artificially overemphasizes the degree of royalty actually possessed by Count Radolinski.  Back

3.  This reference is unmistakably to the Crown Prince himself.  In the original text, it reads "Seiner Kaiserlichen Hoheit" which translates nicely and more indicatively of royalty into "His Imperial Highness".  Back

4.   San Remo is located in Imperia province, Liguria region of northwestern Italy.  It is situated on the Gulf of Genoa and is considered the foremost resort of that part of the Italian Riviera known as the Riviera dei Fiori.  The old town on the hillside has steep, narrow streets with 13th-century houses.  The new part of town on the coast is characterized by attractive villas and hotels, gardens and charming promenades, and the casino. The seaport is sheltered by a 4,000-ft- (1,200-m-) long mole and overlooked by the Genoese Fort of Santa Tecla. San Remo has one of the most popular flower markets in Italy and exports to much of continental Europe.  Since 1861 it has been a year-round health resort, its repute was greatly increased by the stay of the ailing Crown Prince Frederick III of Germany at the Villa Zirio from November 3, 1887 to March 10, 1888.  During the Crown Prince's stay in San Remo, his health gradually deteriorated.  On March 9, 1888, the Prince's father Emporer William I died and the Prince became the new Emperor.  The new Emperor and his household promptly left San Remo for Berlin arriving on the 11th of March at Charlottenburg.      

Images of Villa Zirio

Historical and artistic analysis of Villa Zirio


5.  The statements to which Virchow is referring are most likely the official pathological reports on the Crown Prince’s biopsies that he had examined.  At this time, Virchow had written three of the eventual four pathology reports concerning the laryngeal growth of the Crown Prince.  All of these reports were translated into English except for the first one.  The first report was communicated orally to Dr. Mackenzie and is recorded in his book on the Prince’s illness.  The reports all share the commonality of lacking no firm diagnosis concerning the cancerous nature of the laryngeal growth.  In this letter, Virchow maintains this diagnostic ambiguity.  The English translations of the reports can be found in the Lancet and the British Medical Journal in late 1887 and early 1888.     Back

6.  This is a definitive reference to the Court Marshal to Crown Prince Frederick III, Count Hugo Radolinski.  Back

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