The approaching war puts an end to a twelve-year tradition

In 1914, everything was prepared for the summer stay at Villa Cassel and the master had already arrived.


An assassination with consequences

However, all the signs strongly indicated that war was about to start in Europe. In previous years, Cassel had tried to make his influence felt in Germany and England and wherever possible he had campaigned for peace. He had talked with Churchill and other English ministers and in 1912 he had even met Emperor Wilhelm II in Berlin for negotiations concerning the naval conflict between England and Germany. However, after the assassination of Austria’s Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo all negotiations became pointless.


Diplomacy in the Villa Cassel
At no other time had the phone line from the Villa Cassel to Brig played such an important role. Because even at the last minute, Cassel and other important men from the worlds of high finance and business tried to persuade the German and British governments not to go to war. However, the disastrous cascade of threats and counter threats, ultimatums and solidarity with allied states had already escalated to such an extent that there was no going back.


Departure at the last minute
Sir Cassel left Switzerland only as the chaos grew. In the following summers, he always had the villa prepared for his arrival; however, the turmoil of the war and Cassel’s declining state of health prevented his coming. His anxiety about his financial investments and his failure to prevent a war caused him a great deal of anguish.

An era is ending
Just as he never got over the early death of his wife and his daughter, he also never recovered from the fact that all of a sudden, as a Jewish German living in England, he was regarded as a potential traitor even though he had only recently made enormous private investments in English war bonds. Cassel died embittered on 21 September 1921 in his house in London.

With his death, a long epoch came to an end - not just in Switzerland but all over Europe. Edwina Mountbatton, Cassel’s granddaughter inherited the enormous fortune and Villa Cassel as well. What was she going to do with it...?