The Kaiser's Last Kiss PDF EPUB - A Novel that Explores Love, Loyalty, and Identity in a Time of War
The Kaiser's Last Kiss: A Novel by Alan Judd
If you are looking for a historical fiction novel that combines romance, intrigue, and drama, you might want to check out The Kaiser's Last Kiss by Alan Judd. This book tells a fictional story based on real events and characters from World War II. It follows the exiled German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, a young Nazi officer who is assigned to guard him, and a Jewish maid who works in his palace. The book was published in 2003 by Harper Perennial and has been adapted into a movie in 2016 starring Christopher Plummer, Lily James, and Jai Courtney. In this article, I will give you an overview of the plot, the historical context, the themes, and the reviews of The Kaiser's Last Kiss.
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The Plot of The Kaiser's Last Kiss
The story is set in 1940 in Huis Doorn, a magnificent and aging palace in the Netherlands where the former ruler of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II, has been exiled after being ousted by Hitler and the high command. He lives there with his wife Princess Hermine and a small staff of loyal servants. He spends his days chopping logs, feeding his ducks, reminiscing about his past glory, and hoping for a comeback.
When the Nazis invade Holland, they send a detachment of Wehrmacht troops under the command of an SS officer named Martin Krebbs to guard the Kaiser. Krebbs is a young and ambitious man who has been indoctrinated with Nazi ideology. He respects the Kaiser as a symbol of Germany but despises him as a weak and outdated leader. He also has a secret passion for art and literature that he hides from his superiors.
Among the new staff that arrives at Huis Doorn is Akki, a beautiful and mysterious maid who claims to be from Friesland. She is actually an undercover British agent who has been sent by Winston Churchill to spy on the Kaiser and assess his feelings about the war and his possible willingness to defect to Britain. She also happens to be Jewish but conceals her identity with forged papers.
As Krebbs meets Akki, he is instantly attracted to her. He tries to woo her with his charm and intelligence but she rebuffs him at first. She is wary of his Nazi uniform and his loyalty to Hitler. She also has a mission to accomplish and cannot afford to fall in love. However, as they spend more time together, they begin to develop a genuine connection. They discover that they have more in common than they thought. They both love art, poetry, and music. They both question the brutality and madness of the war. They both feel trapped in their roles and long for freedom.
Meanwhile, the Kaiser is oblivious to the romance between his guard and his maid. He is more concerned with his own fate and his relationship with Hitler. He hopes that Hitler will restore him to the throne and recognize him as the rightful leader of Germany. He also hopes that Hitler will spare his Jewish friends and relatives who are being persecuted by the Nazis. He is unaware of the true nature and extent of the Holocaust.
One day, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and one of the architects of the Final Solution, pays a visit to Huis Doorn. He comes to inspect the security arrangements and to meet the Kaiser. He also brings a sinister proposal: he offers to take the Kaiser and his wife to Germany and give them a ceremonial role in the new Nazi regime, in exchange for their endorsement of Hitler and their renunciation of their Jewish ties. The Kaiser is tempted by the offer but also suspicious of Himmler's motives. He asks for time to think.
During Himmler's visit, Akki's cover is almost blown when she is recognized by one of his aides, who happens to be her former lover. She manages to escape but her identity is exposed. Krebbs learns that she is a British spy and a Jew. He is shocked and betrayed but also still in love with her. He decides to help her flee from Huis Doorn and from the Nazis.
The story reaches its climax when Krebbs and Akki attempt to escape on the same night that Himmler returns to take the Kaiser away. They are confronted by Himmler's men and a shootout ensues. Krebbs kills some of them but is wounded himself. Akki drives him away in a car but they are chased by more Nazis. They reach a bridge where they are cornered by a tank. They kiss each other goodbye and drive off the bridge into the river below.
The Kaiser, meanwhile, refuses Himmler's offer and declares his loyalty to Germany but not to Hitler. He also affirms his friendship with his Jewish relatives and denounces the Nazi atrocities. Himmler is furious and orders his men to arrest the Kaiser and his wife. However, before they can do so, they are attacked by Dutch resistance fighters who have been alerted by Akki's contacts. The Kaiser and his wife are rescued by the resistance and taken to a safe house.
The story ends with an epilogue that reveals what happened to the main characters after the war. The Kaiser died in 1941 in Huis Doorn, where he was buried in a mausoleum. His wife died in 1947 and was buried next to him. Krebbs and Akki survived their plunge into the river but were separated by the war. Krebbs was captured by the Soviets and spent years in a prison camp before being released. Akki returned to Britain and continued working for the secret service until she retired. They never saw each other again but they never forgot each other either.
The Historical Context of The Kaiser's Last Kiss
The Kaiser's Last Kiss is a novel that mixes fiction with fact. It is based on real events and characters from World War II but it also imagines some scenarios that did not happen or happened differently.
The most obvious example of this is the timeline of the story, which compresses some events that took place over a year into a few weeks or days. For instance, the German invasion of Holland occurred in May 1940, while the death of the Kaiser occurred in June 1941. The assassination attempt against Hanns Albin Rauter, the head of the SS in Holland, occurred in March 1945, while the Le Paradis massacre, where German soldiers killed 97 British prisoners of war, occurred in May 1940.
Another example of fictionalization is the characters of Krebbs and Akki, who are invented by Judd for the sake of the story. There was no SS officer named Martin Krebbs who guarded the Kaiser or fell in love with a Jewish maid named Akki. However, there was a detachment of Wehrmacht troops under an SS officer who guarded Huis Doorn after the Nazi invasion. There was also a British agent named Christopher Steele-Perkins who infiltrated Huis Doorn as a gardener and reported on the Kaiser's activities.