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Great Times

Upstaging the Kaiser August Giesen


It takes a lot to upstage a German Emperor, but fledgling entrepreneur and good-natured chancer August (Aw-goost) Giesen did just that the day he missed his train to a dinner engagement he was working at. Always one to push an adventure to the limit, on this occasion August outdid himself.

As a German restaurateur, August had scored the plum job as head waiter at a banquet at Cologne’s grand Dom Hotel for Wilhelm II the last German Emperor and King of Prussia.

But the night before instead of doing the sensible thing and having an early bedtime, August, who loved a good time hit the town. A big night out meant he overslept missing the train to work in Cologne.

At this point most would have thrown in the towel, but August Giesen was determined and he was damned if he was going to let something as simple as a missed train stop him from carrying out what his biggest job ever.

August had a plan.

Using his savings he persuaded the Station Master to let him charter a whole train, locomotive and all to get him to Cologne. This audacious scheme allowed August to arrive on time and wait on the Emperor and his entourage with his usual aplomb.

Between tips for his outstanding banquet service and donations from his co-workers August made enough cash to cover the cost of the train – no mean feat given he was a head waiter and the trip cost the equivalent of around $10,000 in today’s money.

The following morning it wasn’t the grand banquet of the court of Wilhelm II on the front page of the paper it was August Giesen and his audacious train ride!

Upstaging the Kaiser image

Wilhelm II the last German Emperor and King of Prussia

Upstaging the Kaiser image

August Giesen with his two sisters