Marie of Baden, Duchess of Anhalt
Marie of Baden was the last Duchess of Anhalt, as the wife of Friedrich II, Duke of Anhalt. She was born Princess Marie Luise Amelie Josephine of Baden on July 26, 1865, in Baden-Baden, Grand Duchy of Baden, now in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Baden and Princess Marie of Leuchtenberg. Marie had one younger brother:
- Prince Maximilian, Margrave of Baden (1867-1929) – married Princess Marie Luise of Hanover, had issue
On July 2, 1889, in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, now in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Marie married Hereditary Prince Friedrich of Anhalt, the son of Friedrich I, Duke of Anhalt and Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg. From all accounts, the marriage was a very happy one, but the couple did not have any children.
Marie quickly became involved in charity after her marriage, supporting organizations that promoted education and care for the underprivileged. In 1892, along with her mother-in-law, she helped found the Anhalt Deaconess Institution, which educated women in caring for the sick and the poor. She also made a large donation of books to the Melanchthon House in Bretten, a museum of the Protestant Reformation and research institution for Philipp Melanchthon, which was inaugurated in 1903.
During World War I, Marie continued working to establish better medical and care facilities for wounded soldiers. In honor of her efforts, on January 10, 1918, Friedrich II established the Marien-Kreuz (Marie Cross). It was awarded to women of Anhalt for distinguished service during the war – particularly for caring for wounded soldiers. The medal featured Friedrich and Marie’s initials intertwined, with the arms of Anhalt on the reverse.
When her husband died in April 1918, the throne of Anhalt passed to his younger brother, Eduard. Marie eventually returned to Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, where she died on November 29, 1939, having survived her husband by over 21 years. The last Duchess of Anhalt, Marie was buried in the Ducal Mausoleum (link in German) in Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, now in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. In 1958, the remains of members of the House of Anhalt were removed from the Ducal Mausoleum secretly by night for political reasons (Dessau was then in Communist East Germany) and reburied in the Ziebigker Cemetery in Dessau in a common grave, marked only by a simple wooden cross. In 2019, Marie’s remains were moved a second time and reinterred in the Marienkirche (link in German) in Dessau, the traditional burial site of the Dukes of Anhalt-Dessau dating back to the 15th century. The Marienkirche was destroyed during World War II and has since been rebuilt.