WILHELM II, or WILLIAM II, (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; 27
January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last
Acceding to the throne in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von
Bismarck , in 1890 and launched
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early years
* 2 Accession * 3 Break with Bismarck
* 4 Wilhelm in control
* 4.1 Dismissal of Bismarck * 4.2 Promoter of arts and sciences
* 5 Personality
* 5.1 Relationships with foreign relatives * 5.2 Antisemitism
* 6 Foreign affairs
* 6.1 Abushiri Arab Revolt in East Africa * 6.2 Hun speech of 1900 * 6.3 Moroccan Crisis * 6.4 Daily Telegraph affair * 6.5 Naval expansion
* 7.1 The Sarajevo crisis * 7.2 July 1914 * 7.3 Shadow-Kaiser
* 8 Abdication and flight
* 8.1 Life in exile * 8.2 Death
* 9 Historiography
* 10 First marriage and issue
* 10.1 Remarriage
* 11 Religion
* 11.1 Own views * 11.2 Attitude towards other faiths
* 12 Ancestry * 13 Titles and styles * 14 Decorations and awards * 15 Documentaries and films * 16 See also
* 17 References
* 17.1 Notes * 17.2 Bibliography
* 18 Further reading * 19 External links
Wilhelm was born on 27 January 1859 at the Crown Prince\'s Palace ,
A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb\'s palsy , which he tried with some success to conceal. Many photos show him holding a pair of white gloves in his left hand to make the arm seem longer. In others, he holds his left hand with his right, or has his crippled arm on the hilt of a sword. In still others, he is seen holding a cane to give the effect of a useful limb posed at a dignified angle. His left arm was about 6 inches (15 centimetres) shorter than his right arm. Historians have suggested that this disability affected his emotional development.
In 1863, Wilhelm was taken to England to be present at the wedding of
his Uncle Bertie, (later King
His mother, Vicky, was obsessed with his damaged arm. She blamed herself for the child's handicap and insisted that he become a good rider. The thought that he, as heir to the throne, should not be able to ride was intolerable to her. Riding lessons began when Wilhelm was eight and were a matter of endurance for Wilhelm. Over and over, the weeping prince was set on his horse and compelled to go through the paces. He fell off time after time but despite his tears was set on its back again. After weeks of this he finally got it right and was able to maintain his balance.
Wilhelm, from six years of age, was tutored and heavily influenced by the 39-year-old teacher Georg Hinzpeter. "Hinzpeter," he later wrote, "was really a good fellow. Whether he was the right tutor for me, I dare not decide. The torments inflicted on me, in this pony riding, must be attributed to my mother."
As a teenager he was educated at
HOUSE OF HOHENZOLLERN
Children Crown Prince Wilhelm Prince Eitel Friedrich Prince Adalbert Prince August Wilhelm Prince Oskar Prince Joachim Victoria Louise, Duchess of Brunswick
* v * t * e
As a scion of the royal house of
Crown Prince Frederick was viewed by his son with a deeply felt love
and respect. His father's status as a hero of the wars of unification
was largely responsible for the young Wilhelm's attitude, as were the
circumstances in which he was raised; close emotional contact between
father and son was not encouraged. Later, as he came into contact with
the Crown Prince's political opponents, Wilhelm came to adopt more
ambivalent feelings toward his father, perceiving the influence of
Wilhelm's mother over a figure who should have been possessed of
masculine independence and strength. Wilhelm also idolised his
grandfather, Wilhelm I , and he was instrumental in later attempts to
foster a cult of the first
Wilhelm resisted attempts by his parents (especially his mother) to
educate him in a spirit of British liberalism. Instead, he agreed with
his tutors' support of autocratic rule, and gradually became
thoroughly 'Prussianized' under their influence. He thus became
alienated from his parents, suspecting them of putting Britain's
interests first. The German Emperor, Wilhelm I, watched as his
grandson, guided principally by the Crown Princess Victoria, grew to
manhood. When Wilhelm was nearing twenty-one the Emperor decided it
was time his grandson should begin the military phase of his
preparation for the throne. He was assigned as a lieutenant to the
First Regiment of Foot Guards , stationed at
In many ways, Wilhelm was a victim of his inheritance and of Otto von Bismarck's machinations. Both sides of his family had suffered from mental illness, and this may explain his emotional instability. When Wilhelm was in his early twenties, Bismarck tried to separate him from his parents (who opposed Bismarck and his policies) with some success. Bismarck planned to use the young prince as a weapon against his parents in order to retain his own political dominance. Wilhelm thus developed a dysfunctional relationship with his parents, but especially with his English mother. In an outburst in April 1889, Wilhelm angrily implied that "an English doctor killed my father, and an English doctor crippled my arm – which is the fault of my mother", who allowed no German physicians to attend to herself or her immediate family.
As a young man, Wilhelm fell in love with one of his maternal first cousins, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse-Darmstadt . She turned him down, and would, in time, marry into the Russian imperial family. In 1880 Wilhelm became engaged to Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein , known as "Dona". The couple married on 27 February 1881, and would remain married for forty years, until her death in 1921. In a period of ten years, between 1882 and 1892, Augusta Victoria would bear Wilhelm seven children, six sons and a daughter.
Beginning in 1884, Bismarck began advocating that Kaiser Wilhelm send
his grandson on diplomatic missions, a privilege denied to the Crown
Prince. That year, Prince Wilhelm was sent to the court of Tsar
Alexander III of Russia
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Although in his youth he had been a great admirer of Otto von Bismarck, Wilhelm's characteristic impatience soon brought him into conflict with the "Iron Chancellor", the dominant figure in the foundation of his empire. The new Emperor opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to protect Germany's "place in the sun." Furthermore, the young Emperor had come to the throne determined to rule as well as reign, unlike his grandfather. While the letter of the imperial constitution vested executive power in the emperor, Wilhelm I had been content to leave day-to-day administration to Bismarck.
Early conflicts between Wilhelm II and his chancellor soon poisoned the relationship between the two men. Bismarck believed that Wilhelm was a lightweight who could be dominated, and he showed scant respect for Wilhelm's policies in the late 1880s. The final split between monarch and statesman occurred soon after an attempt by Bismarck to implement a far-reaching anti-Socialist law in early 1890.
BREAK WITH BISMARCK
In this photo of Wilhelm, his right hand is holding his left hand, which was affected by Erb\'s palsy .
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The impetuous young Kaiser, says John C. G. Röhl, rejected Bismarck's "peaceful foreign policy" and instead plotted with senior generals to work "in favour of a war of aggression." Bismarck told an aide, "That young man wants war with Russia, and would like to draw his sword straight away if he could. I shall not be a party to it." Bismarck, after gaining an absolute majority in favour of his policies in the Reichstag, decided to make the anti-Socialist laws permanent. His Kartell, the majority of the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party , favoured making the laws permanent, with one exception: the police power to expel Socialist agitators from their homes. The Kartell split over this issue and nothing was passed.
As the debate continued, Wilhelm became more and more interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers who went on strike in 1889. He routinely interrupted Bismarck in Council to make clear where he stood on social policy. Bismarck sharply disagreed with Wilhelm's policy and worked to circumvent it.
Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the young Emperor
and undermined by his ambitious advisors, refused to sign a
proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Wilhelm,
as was required by the German Constitution. The final break came as
Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, with his Kartell
voted from power due to the anti-Socialist bill fiasco. The remaining
powers in the Reichstag were the
Catholic Centre Party
Although Bismarck had sponsored landmark social security legislation, by 1889–90, he had become disillusioned with the attitude of workers. In particular, he was opposed to wage increases, improving working conditions, and regulating labour relations. Moreover, the Kartell, the shifting political coalition that Bismarck had been able to forge since 1867, had lost a working majority in the Reichstag. At the opening of the Reichstag on 6 May 1890, the Kaiser stated that the most pressing issue was the further enlargement of the bill concerning the protection of the labourer. In 1891, the Reichstag passed the Workers Protection Acts, which improved working conditions, protected women and children and regulated labour relations.
WILHELM IN CONTROL
DISMISSAL OF BISMARCK
" Dropping the Pilot ", a famous caricature by Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914), first published in the British magazine Punch , 29 March 1890
Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II's insistence in 1890, at the age of
75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of
In foreign policy Bismarck had achieved a fragile balance of interests between Germany, France and Russia—peace was at hand and Bismarck tried to keep it that way despite growing popular sentiment against Britain (regarding colonies) and especially against Russia. With Bismarck's dismissal the Russians now expected a reversal of policy in Berlin, so they quickly came to terms with France, beginning the process that by 1914 largely isolated Germany.
Monarchical styles of GERMAN EMPEROR WILHELM II, KING OF PRUSSIA
REFERENCE STYLE His Imperial and Royal Majesty
SPOKEN STYLE Your Imperial and Royal Majesty
ALTERNATIVE STYLE Sire
In appointing Caprivi and then Hohenlohe, Wilhelm was embarking upon what is known to history as "the New Course", in which he hoped to exert decisive influence in the government of the empire. There is debate amongst historians as to the precise degree to which Wilhelm succeeded in implementing "personal rule" in this era, but what is clear is the very different dynamic which existed between the Crown and its chief political servant (the Chancellor) in the "Wilhelmine Era". These chancellors were senior civil servants and not seasoned politician-statesmen like Bismarck. Wilhelm wanted to preclude the emergence of another Iron Chancellor, whom he ultimately detested as being "a boorish old killjoy" who had not permitted any minister to see the Emperor except in his presence, keeping a stranglehold on effective political power. Upon his enforced retirement and until his dying day, Bismarck was to become a bitter critic of Wilhelm's policies, but without the support of the supreme arbiter of all political appointments (the Emperor) there was little chance of Bismarck exerting a decisive influence on policy. Silver 5-mark coin of Wilhelm II.
Bismarck did manage to create the "Bismarck myth," the view (which
some would argue was confirmed by subsequent events) that Wilhelm II's
dismissal of the Iron Chancellor effectively destroyed any chance
In the early twentieth century Wilhelm began to concentrate upon his
real agenda; the creation of a German navy that would rival that of
Britain and enable
PROMOTER OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Wilhelm enthusiastically promoted the arts and sciences, as well as public education and social welfare. He sponsored the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the promotion of scientific research; it was funded by wealthy private donors and by the state and comprised a number of research institutes in both pure and applied sciences. The Prussian Academy of Sciences was unable to avoid the Kaiser's pressure and lost some of its autonomy when it was forced to incorporate new programs in engineering, and award new fellowships in engineering sciences as a result of a gift from the Kaiser in 1900.
Wilhelm supported the modernisers as they tried to reform the Prussian system of secondary education, which was rigidly traditional, elitist, politically authoritarian, and unchanged by the progress in the natural sciences. As hereditary Protector of the Order of Saint John , he offered encouragement to the Christian order's attempts to place German medicine at the forefront of modern medical practice through its system of hospitals, nursing sisterhood and nursing schools, and nursing homes throughout the German Empire. Wilhelm continued as Protector of the Order even after 1918, as the position was in essence attached to the head of the House of Hohenzollern.
Emperor Wilhelm II talks with Ethiopians at the Tierpark
Historians have frequently stressed the role of Wilhelm's personality in shaping his reign. Thus, Thomas Nipperdey concludes he was:
...gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,—technology, industry, science—but at the same time superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success,—as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday—romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers' mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred against his English mother.
Historian David Fromkin states that Wilhelm had a love-hate relationship with Britain. According to Fromkin:
From the outset, the half-German side of him was at war with the half-English side. He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British, wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them because he never could be fully accepted by them.
Langer et al. (1968) emphasize the negative international consequences of Wilhelm's erratic personality:
He believed in force, and the 'survival of the fittest' in domestic as well as foreign politics... William was not lacking in intelligence, but he did lack stability, disguising his deep insecurities by swagger and tough talk. He frequently fell into depressions and hysterics... William's personal instability was reflected in vacillations of policy. His actions, at home as well as abroad, lacked guidance, and therefore often bewildered or infuriated public opinion. He was not so much concerned with gaining specific objectives, as had been the case with Bismarck, as with asserting his will. This trait in the ruler of the leading Continental power was one of the main causes of the uneasiness prevailing in Europe at the turn-of-the-century.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH FOREIGN RELATIVES
As a grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm was a first cousin of the
King George V
Wilhelm's most contentious relationships were with his British
relations. He craved the acceptance of his grandmother, Queen
Victoria, and of the rest of her family. Despite the fact that his
grandmother treated him with courtesy and tact, his other relatives
found him arrogant and obnoxious, and they largely denied him
acceptance. He had an especially bad relationship with his Uncle
Bertie , the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). Between 1888 and
1901 Wilhelm resented his uncle, himself a mere heir to the English
throne, treating Wilhelm not as Emperor of Germany, but merely as
another nephew. In turn, Wilhelm often snubbed his uncle, whom he
referred to as "the old peacock" and lorded his position as emperor
over him. Beginning in the 1890s, Wilhelm made visits to England for
Cowes Week on the
Isle of Wight
In 1913, Wilhelm hosted a lavish wedding in
Wilhelm's biographer Lamar Cecil identified Wilhelm's "curious but
well-developed anti-Semitism", noting that in 1888 a friend of Wilhelm
"declared that the young Kaiser's dislike of his Hebrew subjects, one
rooted in a perception that they possessed an overweening influence in
Germany, was so strong that it could not be overcome." Cecil
concludes: Wilhelm never changed, and throughout his life he believed
that Jews were perversely responsible, largely through their
prominence in the
On 2 December 1919, Wilhelm wrote to Field Marshal August von Mackensen , denouncing his own abdication as the "deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a person in history, the Germans have done to themselves... egged on and misled by the tribe of Judah ... Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil!" Wilhelm advocated a "regular international all-worlds pogrom à la Russe" as "the best cure" and further believed that Jews were a "nuisance that humanity must get rid of some way or other. I believe the best thing would be gas!"
1898 China imperialism cartoon: A Mandarin official helplessly
looks on as China, depicted as a pie, is about to be carved up by
German foreign policy under Wilhelm II was faced with a number of significant problems. Perhaps the most apparent was that Wilhelm was an impatient man, subjective in his reactions and affected strongly by sentiment and impulse. He was personally ill-equipped to steer German foreign policy along a rational course. It is now widely recognised that the various spectacular acts which Wilhelm undertook in the international sphere were often partially encouraged by the German foreign policy elite. There were a number of notorious examples, such as the Kruger telegram of 1896 in which Wilhelm congratulated President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic on the suppression of the British Jameson Raid , thus alienating British public opinion.
British public opinion had been quite favourable toward the Kaiser in
his first twelve years on the throne, but it turned sour in the late
1890s. During the
First World War
Wilhelm invented and spread fears of a yellow peril trying to
interest other European rulers in the perils they faced by invading
China; few other leaders paid attention. Wilhelm used the Japanese
victory in the
One of the few times when Wilhelm succeeded in personal diplomacy was when in 1900 he supported the marriage of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria to Sophie Chotek , against the wishes of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria .
A domestic triumph for Wilhelm was when his daughter Victoria Louise
married the Duke of Brunswick in 1913; this helped heal the rift
House of Hanover
ABUSHIRI ARAB REVOLT IN EAST AFRICA
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The German East Africa Company colonized the East African coast around Tanganyika but the Arabs under Abushiri ibn Salim al-Harthi started a massive revolt along the coast , killing German representatives of the company and seizing control. The German Empire sent troops to crush the uprising, with the help of a British blockade. The uprising was defeated by 1889 and the Arab rebel leader Abushiri was hanged by German forces.
HUN SPEECH OF 1900
Great overseas tasks have fallen to the new German Empire, tasks far
greater than many of my countrymen expected. The
It has been built up during thirty years of faithful, peaceful labor, following the principles of my blessed grandfather. You, too, have received your training in accordance with these principles, and by putting them to the test before the enemy, you should see whether they have proved their worth in you. Your comrades in the navy have already passed this test; they have shown that the principles of your training are sound, and I am also proud of the praise that your comrades have earned over there from foreign leaders. It is up to you to emulate them.
A great task awaits you: you are to revenge the grievous injustice that has been done. The Chinese have overturned the law of nations; they have mocked the sacredness of the envoy, the duties of hospitality in a way unheard of in world history. It is all the more outrageous that this crime has been committed by a nation that takes pride in its ancient culture. Show the old Prussian virtue. Present yourselves as Christians in the cheerful endurance of suffering. May honor and glory follow your banners and arms. Give the whole world an example of manliness and discipline.
You know full well that you are to fight against a cunning, brave, well-armed, and cruel enemy. When you encounter him, know this: no quarter will be given. Prisoners will not be taken. Exercise your arms such that for a thousand years no Chinese will dare to look cross-eyed at a German. Maintain discipline. May God’s blessing be with you, the prayers of an entire nation and my good wishes go with you, each and every one. Open the way to civilization once and for all! Now you may depart! Farewell, comrades!
The official version omitted the following passage from which the speech derives its name:
Should you encounter the enemy, he will be defeated! No quarter will
be given! Prisoners will not be taken! Whoever falls into your hands
is forfeited. Just as a thousand years ago the
Huns under their King
The term "Hun" later became the favored epithet of Allied anti-German war propaganda during the First World War.
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One of Wilhelm's diplomatic blunders sparked the Moroccan Crisis of
1905, when he made a spectacular visit to
DAILY TELEGRAPH AFFAIR
Main article: Daily Telegraph Affair
Wilhelm's most damaging personal blunder cost him much of his
prestige and power and had a far greater impact in
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Caricature by Olaf Gulbransson 1909: "Manoeuvre: Emperor William II explains the enemy's positions to Prince Ludwig of Bavaria "
Nothing Wilhelm did in the international arena was of more influence
than his decision to pursue a policy of massive naval construction. A
powerful navy was Wilhelm's pet project. He had inherited from his
mother a love of the British
The new admiral had conceived of what came to be known as the "Risk
Theory" or the
Tirpitz Plan , by which
In 1889 Wilhelm reorganised top level control of the navy by creating a Naval Cabinet (Marine-Kabinett) equivalent to the German Imperial Military Cabinet which had previously functioned in the same capacity for both the army and navy. The Head of the Naval Cabinet was responsible for promotions, appointments, administration, and issuing orders to naval forces. Captain Gustav von Senden-Bibran was appointed as the first head and remained so until 1906. The existing Imperial admiralty was abolished, and its responsibilities divided between two organisations. A new position was created, equivalent to the supreme commander of the army: the Chief of the High Command of the Admiralty, or Oberkommando der Marine , was responsible for ship deployments, strategy and tactics. Vice-Admiral Max von der Goltz was appointed in 1889 and remained in post until 1895. Construction and maintenance of ships and obtaining supplies was the responsibility of the State Secretary of the Imperial Navy Office ( Reichsmarineamt ), responsible to the Imperial Chancellor and advising the Reichstag on naval matters. The first appointee was Rear Admiral Karl Eduard Heusner , followed shortly by Rear Admiral Friedrich von Hollmann from 1890 to 1897. Each of these three heads of department reported separately to Wilhelm.
FIRST WORLD WAR
Emperor Wilhelm with the Grand Duke of Baden, Prince Oskar of
Prussia, the Grand Duke of Hesse, the Grand Duke of
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Prince Louis of Bavaria,
Prince Max of Baden
THE SARAJEVO CRISIS
Wilhelm was a friend of
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria , and he
was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914. Wilhelm
offered to support
A brilliant solution—and in barely 48 hours! This is more than could have been expected. A great moral victory for Vienna; but with it every pretext for war falls to the ground, and Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade. On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation.
Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had
already convinced the 83-year-old
Franz Joseph I of Austria
July Crisis Emperor Wilhelm in conversation with
the victor of Liège , General
Otto von Emmich ; in the background the
Hans von Plessen
On the night of 30 July, when handed a document stating that Russia would not cancel its mobilization, Wilhelm wrote a lengthy commentary containing these observations:
...For I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves—knowing that our treaty obligations compel us to support Austria—to use the Austro-Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us... Our dilemma over keeping faith with the old and honourable Emperor has been exploited to create a situation which gives England the excuse she has been seeking to annihilate us with a spurious appearance of justice on the pretext that she is helping France and maintaining the well-known Balance of Power in Europe, i.e., playing off all European States for her own benefit against us.
More recent British authors state that Wilhelm II really declared, "Ruthlessness and weakness will start the most terrifying war of the world, whose purpose is to destroy Germany. Because there can no longer be any doubts, England, France and Russia have conspired themselves together to fight an annihilation war against us".
An das deutsche Volk
Extract from Wilhelm's public address for mobilization, 6 August 1914.
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When it became clear that
Hindenburg , Wilhelm II, and Ludendorff in January 1917
Wilhelm's role in wartime was one of ever-decreasing power as he
increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties. The high
command continued with its strategy even when it was clear that the
ABDICATION AND FLIGHT
Main article: Abdication of Wilhelm II
Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in
Spa, Belgium , when
the uprisings in
Wilhelm's hopes of retaining at least one of his crowns was revealed
as unrealistic when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the
face of growing revolutionary unrest, Chancellor Prince Max of Baden
announced Wilhelm's abdication of both titles on 9 November 1918.
Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it
became clear that only
Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff's
The fact that the High Command might one day abandon the Kaiser had been foreseen in December 1897, when Wilhelm had visited Otto von Bismarck for the last time. Bismarck had again warned the Kaiser about the increasing influence of militarists, especially of the admirals who were pushing for the construction of a battle fleet. Bismarck's last warning had been:
Your Majesty, so long as you have this present officer corps, you can do as you please. But when this is no longer the case, it will be very different for you.
Subsequently, Bismarck had predicted accurately:
"Jena came twenty years after the death of
Frederick the Great
On 10 November, Wilhelm crossed the border by train and went into
exile in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the
war. Upon the conclusion of the
Treaty of Versailles
Wilhelm first settled in
Amerongen , where on 28 November he issued a
belated statement of abdication from both the Prussian and imperial
thrones, thus formally ending the Hohenzollerns' 400-year rule over
Prussia. Accepting the reality that he had lost both of his crowns for
good, he gave up his rights to "the throne of
LIFE IN EXILE
In 1922, Wilhelm published the first volume of his memoirs —a very slim volume that insisted he was not guilty of initiating the Great War, and defended his conduct throughout his reign, especially in matters of foreign policy. For the remaining twenty years of his life, he entertained guests (often of some standing) and kept himself updated on events in Europe. He grew a beard and allowed his famous moustache to droop. He also learned the Dutch language. Wilhelm developed a penchant for archaeology while residing at the Corfu Achilleion , excavating at the site of the Temple of Artemis in Corfu , a passion he retained in his exile. He had bought the former Greek residence of Empress Elisabeth after her murder in 1898. He also sketched plans for grand buildings and battleships when he was bored. In exile, one of Wilhelm's greatest passions was hunting, and he bagged thousands of animals, both beast and bird. Much of his time was spent chopping wood and thousands of trees were chopped down during his stay at Doorn.
In the early 1930s, Wilhelm apparently hoped that the successes of
"There's a man alone, without family, without children, without God... He builds legions, but he doesn't build a nation. A nation is created by families, a religion, traditions: it is made up out of the hearts of mothers, the wisdom of fathers, the joy and the exuberance of children... For a few months I was inclined to believe in National Socialism. I thought of it as a necessary fever. And I was gratified to see that there were, associated with it for a time, some of the wisest and most outstanding Germans. But these, one by one, he has got rid of or even killed... He has left nothing but a bunch of shirted gangsters! This man could bring home victories to our people each year, without bringing them either glory or danger. But of our Germany, which was a nation of poets and musicians, of artists and soldiers, he has made a nation of hysterics and hermits, engulfed in a mob and led by a thousand liars or fanatics. ― Wilhelm on Hitler, December 1938.
In the wake of the German victory over
During his last year at Doorn, Wilhelm believed that
Wilhelm in 1933 *
Wilhelm II's tomb in Doorn,
Wilhelm died of a pulmonary embolus in Doorn, Netherlands, on 4 June
1941, aged 82, just weeks before the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union
. German soldiers had been guarding his house. Hitler, however, was
reported to be angry that the former monarch had an honor guard of
German troops and nearly fired the general who ordered them when he
found out. Despite his personal animosity toward Wilhelm, Hitler
wanted to bring his body back to
Wilhelm was buried in a mausoleum in the grounds of Huis Doorn, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for German monarchists. Small but enthusiastic and faithful numbers of them gather there every year on the anniversary of his death to pay their homage to the last German Emperor.
Three trends have characterized the writing about Wilhelm. First, the court-inspired writers considered him a martyr and a hero, often uncritically accepting the justifications provided in the Kaiser's own memoirs. Second, there came those who judged Wilhelm to be completely unable to handle the great responsibilities of his position, a ruler too reckless to deal with power. Third, after 1950, later scholars have sought to transcend the passions of the early 20th century and attempted an objective portrayal of Wilhelm and his rule.
On 8 June 1913, a year before the Great War began, The New York Times
published a special supplement devoted to the 25th anniversary of the
Kaiser's accession. The banner headline read: "Kaiser, 25 Years a
Ruler, Hailed as Chief Peacemaker". The accompanying story called him
"the greatest factor for peace that our time can show", and credited
Wilhelm with frequently rescuing Europe from the brink of war. Until
the late 1950s, the Kaiser was depicted by most historians as a man of
considerable influence. Partly that was a deception by German
officials. For example, President
FIRST MARRIAGE AND ISSUE
Wilhelm and his first wife Augusta Viktoria
Wilhelm and his first wife, Princess Augusta Victoria of
NAME BIRTH DEATH SPOUSE CHILDREN
Crown Prince Wilhelm 6 May 1882 20 July 1951 Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Prince Wilhelm (1906–1940) Prince Louis Ferdinand (1907–1994) Prince Hubertus (1909–1950) Prince Frederick (1911–1966) Princess Alexandrine (1915–1980) Princess Cecilie (1917–1975)
Prince Eitel Friedrich 7 July 1883 8 December 1942 Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Oldenburg
Prince Adalbert 14 July 1884 22 September 1948 Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen Princess Victoria Marina (1915) Princess Victoria Marina (1917–1981) Prince Wilhelm Victor (1919–1989)
Prince August Wilhelm 29 January 1887 25 March 1949 Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg Prince Alexander Ferdinand (1912–1985)
Prince Oskar 27 July 1888 27 January 1958 Countess Ina Marie von Bassewitz Prince Oskar (1915–1939) Prince Burchard (1917–1988) Princess Herzeleide (1918–1989) Prince Wilhelm-Karl (1922–2007)
Prince Joachim 17 December 1890 18 July 1920 Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt Prince Karl Franz (1916–1975)
Princess Victoria Louise 13 September 1892 11 December 1980 Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick Prince Ernest Augustus (1914–1987) Prince George William (1915–2006) Princess Frederica (1917–1981) Prince Christian Oscar (1919–1981) Prince Welf Henry (1923–1997)
Empress Augusta, known affectionately as "Dona", was a constant companion to Wilhelm, and her death on 11 April 1921 was a devastating blow. It also came less than a year after their son Joachim committed suicide.
With second wife, Hermine, and her daughter, Princess Henriette
The following January, Wilhelm received a birthday greeting from a son of the late Prince Johann George Ludwig Ferdinand August Wilhelm of Schönaich-Carolath. The 63-year-old Wilhelm invited the boy and his mother, Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz , to Doorn . Wilhelm found Hermine very attractive, and greatly enjoyed her company. The couple were wed on 9 November 1922, despite the objections of Wilhelm's monarchist supporters and his children. Hermine's daughter, Princess Henriette , married the late Prince Joachim's son, Karl Franz Josef, in 1940, but divorced in 1946. Hermine remained a constant companion to the aging Emperor until his death.
Emperor Wilhelm II was a
ATTITUDE TOWARDS OTHER FAITHS
Regarding his attitude towards other religions, Wilhelm II was on
friendly terms with the
ANCESTORS OF WILHELM II, GERMAN EMPEROR
16. Frederick William II of
8. Frederick William III of
17. Landgravine Frederica Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
4. William I,
9. Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
19. Landgravine Frederica of Hesse-Darmstadt
2. Frederick III,
21. Landgravine Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
5. Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
22. Paul I of Russia
11. Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia
23. Princess Sophie Dorothea of Wurttemberg
1. WILHELM II, GERMAN EMPEROR
6. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
13. Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
29. Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
7. Victoria of the United Kingdom
31. Countess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf (= 25)
TITLES AND STYLES
Portrait by Max Koner (1890)
* 27 JANUARY 1859 – 9 MARCH 1888: His Royal Highness Prince Wilhelm of Prussia * 9 MARCH 1888 – 15 JUNE 1888: His Imperial and Royal Highness The German Crown Prince, Crown Prince of Prussia * 15 JUNE 1888 – 18 NOVEMBER 1918: His Imperial and Royal Majesty The German Emperor, King of Prussia
DECORATIONS AND AWARDS
* Grand Master of the following Orders:
Order of the Black Eagle
* Knight of the
Order of the Rue Crown
* Knight of the
Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain)
* Knight of the
Order of the Garter
DOCUMENTARIES AND FILMS
* William II. – The last days of the German Monarchy (original
title: "Wilhelm II. – Die letzten Tage des Deutschen Kaiserreichs"),
about the abdication and flight of the last German Kaiser.
Germany/Belgium, 2007. Produced by seelmannfilm and German Television.
Written and directed by Christoph Weinert.
* List of people on the cover of Time Magazine: 1920s – 28 June
* Research Materials: Max Planck Society Archive
Rulers of Germany family tree . He was related to every other
monarch of Germany.
* ^ A B Cecil 1996 , vol. 2, pp. 138–41.
* ^ William L. Putnam, -The Kaiser's merchant ships in World War I
(2001) p. 33
* ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHNorbVvyLg
* ^ Massie 1991 , p. 27.
* ^ A B Massie 1991 , p. 28.
* ^ Clay 2007 , p. 14.
* ^ Massie 1991 , p. 29.
* ^ Hull 2004 , p. 31.
* ^ Massie 1991 , p. 33.
* ^ Röhl 1998 , p. 12.
* ^ Massie 1991 , p. 34.
John C. G. Röhl (2014). Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life.
Cambridge UP. p. 44.
* ^ Gauss 1915 , p. 55.
* ^ Taylor 1967 , pp. 238–39.
* ^ König 2004 , pp. 359–377.
* ^ Clark 2003 , pp. 38–40, 44.
* ^ Sainty 1991 , p. 91.
* ^ Nipperdey 1992 , p. 421.
* ^ Fromkin 2008 , p. 110.
* ^ Fromkin 2008 , p. 87.
* ^ Langer 1968 , p. 528.
* ^ King, Greg, Twilight of Splendor: The Court of Queen Victoria
* Ashton, Nigel J; Hellema, Duco (2000), "Hanging the Kaiser:
Anglo-Dutch Relations and the Fate of Wilhelm II, 1918–20",
Diplomacy & Statecraft, 11 (2): 53–78, doi
:10.1080/09592290008406157 , ISSN 0959-2296 .
* Associated Press (15 March 1890), The Kaiser\'s Conference –
Trying to Solve the Workingmen\'s Problem. Formal Organization of the
* Clark, Christopher M. Kaiser Wilhelm II. (2000) 271 pp. short
biography by scholar
* Eley, Geoff. "The View From The Throne: The Personal Rule of
Kaiser Wilhelm II," Historical Journal, June 1985, Vol. 28 Issue 2,
* Kohut, Thomas A. Wilhelm II and the Germans: A Study in
Leadership, New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. ISBN
* Mommsen, Wolfgang J. "Kaiser Wilhelm II and German Politics."
Journal of Contemporary History 1990 25(2–3): 289–316. ISSN
* Otte, T.G., "The Winston of Germany": The British Elite and the
Wikimedia Commons has media related to WILHELM II OF GERMANY .
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