Wilhelm Emperor
German Emperor and King of Prussia
Wilhelm Emperor
Wilhelm II or William II was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe. Crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany on a bellicose "New Course" in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led to World War I. Bombastic and impetuous, he sometimes made tactless pronouncements on sensitive topics without consulting his ministers, and allowed his generals to dictate policy during World War I with little regard for the civilian government. An ineffective war leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.
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Dupa cum se stie automobilistul german ii luase locul lui Robert Kubica, care a suferit un grav accident la inceputul anului. Jenson Button promite „razbunare“ impotriva impotriva lui Michael Schumacher si Sebastian Vettel, insa nu in...Formula unu
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The only reason Ryan hasn't enrolled in Aiken High's strings program is that he is taking six honors classes this year, including biology and German II. Ryan actually contends that his memory is not that great. "He's being modest," said Keisha,
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Catholic Social Advance Institute holds graduation ceremony - Myjoyonline.com
Google News - over 5 years
The CSAI, she said, was a private institution set up by Dr Helga Kleinkowski, a German II social worker to train young women adequately to become gainfully employed or self employed. General Arts, Business, Vocational Studies, Secretaryship,
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New Milford High's Freshman/Sophomore Academic Awards - Housatonic Times
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French I Academic: Cody Helgesen; French II Honors: Sheridan Jones, Diana Orozco-Morato, Emma Riggs; French III Honors: Mia Carlone, Nichoals Cianciolo, Josheel Kainth; German II Honors: Melanie Talmadge; German III Honors: Egzon Beluli, Carolyn Pahner
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SCHOOL NEWS - MyCentralJersey.com
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Students who are in German II to V take this test every year. The test focuses on listening and reading comprehension, structure and vocabulary. The test is scored by percentile rankings — separately for each test level. A score in the 90th percentile
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Student Life;A Lesson in Limbo
NYTimes - almost 21 years
Paul Battles is a medievalist in his sixth year of doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jennifer Marshall, a student of German literature, is in her fifth year at Yale. Both Ph.D. candidates are preparing to test the academic job market this December, at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, the
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BRITISH START WAR GAMES ON CONTINENT
NYTimes - over 32 years
The operational phase of Britain's largest field-training exercise since 1945 got under way near here today, with nearly 58,000 British soldiers and airmen scheduled to take part. A total of 131,565 ground and air personnel are involved in the exercise, including the British troops and airmen already in West Germany as well as the American, Dutch
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Wilhelm II, German Emperor
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1941
    Age 82
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 Berlin for a state funeral, as Wilhelm was a symbol of Germany and Germans during the previous World War. Hitler felt that such a funeral would demonstrate to the Germans the direct descent of the Third Reich from the old German Empire. However, Wilhelm's wishes never to return to Germany until the restoration of the monarchy were respected, and the Nazi occupation authorities granted him a small military funeral, with a few hundred people present. The mourners included August von Mackensen, fully dressed in his old imperial Life Hussars uniform, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and Reichskommissar for the Netherlands Arthur Seyss-Inquart, along with a few other military advisers. However, Wilhelm's request that the swastika and other Nazi regalia be not displayed at his funeral was ignored, and they are featured in the photographs of the event taken by a Dutch photographer.
  • 1940
    Age 81
    Also in 1940 came what would have been his mother's 100th birthday, on which he wrote ironically to a friend "Today the 100th birthday of my mother!
    More Details Hide Details No notice is taken of it at home! No 'Memorial Service' or... committee to remember her marvellous work for the... welfare of our German people... Nobody of the new generation knows anything about her." This sympathy for his mother is in sharp contrast to the intense animosity he expressed for her during most of her life.
    He believed the Freemasons and Jews had caused the two world wars, aiming at a world Jewish empire with British and American gold, but that "Juda's plan has been smashed to pieces and they themselves swept out of the European Continent!" Continental Europe was now, Wilhelm wrote, "consolidating and closing itself off from British influences after the elimination of the British and the Jews!" The end result would be a "U.S. of Europe!" In a letter of 1940 to his sister Princess Margaret, Wilhelm wrote: "The hand of God is creating a new world & working miracles...
    More Details Hide Details We are becoming the U.S. of Europe under German leadership, a united European Continent." He added: "The Jews are being thrust out of their nefarious positions in all countries, whom they have driven to hostility for centuries."
    In May 1940, when Hitler invaded the Netherlands, Wilhelm declined an offer from Churchill of asylum in Britain, preferring to die at Huis Doorn.
    More Details Hide Details During his last year at Doorn, Wilhelm believed that Germany was the land of monarchy and therefore of Christ, and that England was the land of liberalism and therefore of Satan and the Anti-Christ. He argued that the English ruling classes were "Freemasons thoroughly infected by Juda". Wilhelm asserted that the "British people must be liberated from Antichrist Juda. We must drive Juda out of England just as he has been chased out of the Continent."
    Nevertheless, after the Nazi conquest of the Netherlands in 1940, the aging Wilhelm retired completely from public life.
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    Wilhelm greatly admired the success which Hitler was able to achieve in the opening months of the Second World War, and personally sent a congratulatory telegram when the Netherlands surrendered in May 1940: "My Fuhrer, I congratulate you and hope that under your marvellous leadership the German monarchy will be restored completely."
    More Details Hide Details Hitler was reportedly exasperated and bemused, and remarked to Linge, his valet, "What an idiot!". In another telegram to Hitler upon the fall of Paris a month later, Wilhelm stated "Congratulations, you have won using my troops." In a letter to his daughter Victoria Louise, Duchess of Brunswick, he wrote triumphantly, "Thus is the pernicious Entente Cordiale of Uncle Edward VII brought to nought."
  • 1939
    Age 80
    In the wake of the German victory over Poland in September 1939, Wilhelm's adjutant, General von Dommes, wrote on his behalf to Hitler, stating that the House of Hohenzollern "remained loyal" and noted that nine Prussian Princes (one son and eight grandchildren) were stationed at the front, concluding "because of the special circumstances that require residence in a neutral foreign country, His Majesty must personally decline to make the aforementioned comment.
    More Details Hide Details The Emperor has therefore charged me with making a communication."
  • 1938
    Age 79
    Hearing of the murder of the wife of former Chancellor Schleicher, he said "We have ceased to live under the rule of law and everyone must be prepared for the possibility that the Nazis will push their way in and put them up against the wall!" Wilhelm was also appalled at the Kristallnacht of 9–10 November 1938, saying "I have just made my views clear to Auwi fourth son in the presence of his brothers.
    More Details Hide Details He had the nerve to say that he agreed with the Jewish pogroms and understood why they had come about. When I told him that any decent man would describe these actions as gangsterisms, he appeared totally indifferent. He is completely lost to our family". He also stated, "For the first time, I am ashamed to be a German."
  • 1922
    Age 63
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Hermine remained a constant companion to the aging Emperor until his death. Emperor Wilhelm II was a Lutheran member of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia's older Provinces. It was a United Protestant denomination, bringing together Reformed and Lutheran believers. German awards Foreign honours
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 the German Nazi Party would stimulate interest in a restoration of the monarchy, with his eldest grandson as the fourth Kaiser. His second wife, Hermine, actively petitioned the Nazi government on her husband's behalf. However, Adolf Hitler, himself a veteran of the First World War, like other leading Nazis, felt nothing but scorn for the man they blamed for Germany's greatest defeat, and the petitions were ignored. Though he played host to Hermann Göring at Doorn on at least one occasion, Wilhelm grew to distrust Hitler.
  • 1920
    Age 61
    He purchased a country house in the municipality of Doorn, known as Huis Doorn and moved in on 15 May 1920.
    More Details Hide Details This was to be his home for the remainder of his life. The Weimar Republic allowed Wilhelm to remove twenty-three railway wagons of furniture, twenty-seven containing packages of all sorts, one bearing a car and another a boat, from the New Palace at Potsdam.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1919
    Age 60
    Upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article 227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm "for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties", but the Dutch government refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies.
    More Details Hide Details King George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as "the greatest criminal in history", but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George's proposal to "hang the Kaiser". President Woodrow Wilson of the United States rejected extradition, arguing that prosecuting Wilhelm would destabilize international order and lose the peace. 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 Prussia and to the German Imperial throne connected therewith." He also released his soldiers and officials in both Prussia and the empire from their oath of loyalty to him.
  • 1918
    Age 59
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it became clear that only Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD, could effectively exert control. Later that day, one of Ebert's secretaries of state (ministers), Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann, proclaimed Germany a republic. Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff's replacement, General Wilhelm Groener, had informed him that the officers and men of the army would march back in good order under Paul von Hindenburg's command, but would certainly not fight for Wilhelm's throne on the home front. The monarchy's last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist, was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown. 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:
    Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium, when the uprisings in Berlin and other centres took him by surprise in late 1918.
    More Details Hide Details Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him. After the outbreak of the German Revolution, Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate. Up to that point, he accepted that he would likely have to give up the imperial crown, but still hoped to retain the Prussian kingship. However, this was impossible under the imperial constitution. While Wilhelm thought he ruled as emperor in a personal union with Prussia, the constitution actually tied the imperial crown to the Prussian crown, meaning that Wilhelm could not renounce one crown without renouncing the other.
    That year also saw Wilhelm sickened during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic, though he survived.
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  • 1917
    Age 58
    Upon hearing in July 1917 that his cousin George V had changed the name of the British royal house to Windsor, Wilhelm remarked that he planned to see Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The Kaiser's support collapsed completely in October–November 1918 in the army, in the civilian government, and in German public opinion, as President Woodrow Wilson made clear the Kaiser could no longer be a party to peace negotiations.
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  • 1914
    Age 55
    Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September 1914 and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn.
    More Details Hide Details In 1917, Hindenburg and Ludendorff decided that Bethman-Hollweg was no longer acceptable to them as Chancellor and called upon the Kaiser to appoint somebody else. When asked whom they would accept, Ludendorff recommended Georg Michaelis, a nonentity he barely knew. The Kaiser did not know Michaelis, but accepted the suggestion.
    At the 1914 border between France and Germany, an attack at this more southern part of France could be stopped by the French fortress along the border.
    More Details Hide Details However, Wilhelm II stopped any invasion of the Netherlands. Wilhelm's role in wartime was 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 Schlieffen plan had failed. By 1916 the Empire had effectively become a military dictatorship under the control of Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff. Increasingly cut off from reality and the political decision-making process, Wilhelm vacillated between defeatism and dreams of victory, depending upon the fortunes of his armies. Nevertheless, Wilhelm still retained the ultimate authority in matters of political appointment, and it was only after his consent had been gained that major changes to the high command could be effected.
    He wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on 6 July 1914.
    More Details Hide Details Wilhelm made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram, and when the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to Serbia, he hurried back to Berlin. He reached Berlin on 28 July, read a copy of the Serbian reply, and wrote on it: Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 83-year-old Franz Joseph I of Austria to sign a declaration of war against Serbia. As a direct consequence, Russia began a general mobilization to attack Austria in defense of Serbia. 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: 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".
    Wilhelm was a friend of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914.
    More Details Hide Details Wilhelm offered to support Austria-Hungary in crushing the Black Hand, the secret organization that had plotted the killing, and even sanctioned the use of force by Austria against the perceived source of the movement—Serbia (this is often called "the blank cheque").
    Naval expansion under the Fleet Acts eventually led to severe financial strains in Germany by 1914, as by 1906 Wilhelm had committed his navy to construction of the much larger, more expensive dreadnought type of battleship.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1913
    Age 54
    A domestic triumph for Wilhelm was when his daughter Victoria Louise married the Duke of Brunswick in 1913; this helped heal the rift between the House of Hanover and the House of Hohenzollern which followed the annexation of Hanover by Prussia in 1866.
    More Details Hide Details 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. The Boxer rebellion, an anti-western uprising in China, was put down in 1900 by an international force of British, French, Russian, American, Japanese, and German troops. The Germans, however, forfeited any prestige they might have gained for their participation by arriving only after the British and Japanese forces had taken Peking, the site of the fiercest fighting. Moreover, the poor impression left by the German troops' late arrival was made worse by the Kaiser's ill-conceived farewell address, in which he commanded them, in the spirit of the Huns, to be merciless in battle. Wilhelm delivered this speech in Bremerhaven on 27 July 1900, addressing German troops who were departing to suppress the Boxer rebellion in China. The speech was infused with Wilhelm's fiery and chauvinistic rhetoric and clearly expressed his vision of German imperial power. There were two versions of the speech. The Foreign Office issued an edited version, making sure to omit one particularly incendiary paragraph that they regarded as diplomatically embarrassing.
    In 1913, Wilhelm hosted a lavish wedding in Berlin for his only daughter, Victoria Louise.
    More Details Hide Details Among the guests at the wedding were Tsar Nicholas II, who also disliked Wilhelm, and his English cousin, King George V and his wife, Queen Mary. 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:
  • 1910
    Age 51
    He also was present at the funeral of King Edward VII, in 1910.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1908
    Age 49
    Wilhelm's most damaging personal blunder cost him much of his prestige and power and had a far greater impact in Germany than overseas. The Daily Telegraph Affair of 1908 involved the publication in Germany of an interview with a British daily newspaper that included wild statements and diplomatically damaging remarks.
    More Details Hide Details Wilhelm had seen the interview as an opportunity to promote his views and ideas on Anglo-German friendship, but due to his emotional outbursts during the course of the interview, he ended up further alienating not only the British, but also the French, Russians, and Japanese. He implied, among other things, that the Germans cared nothing for the British; that the French and Russians had attempted to incite Germany to intervene in the Second Boer War; and that the German naval buildup was targeted against the Japanese, not Britain.
  • 1905
    Age 46
    One of Wilhelm's diplomatic blunders sparked the Moroccan Crisis of 1905, when he made a spectacular visit to Tangier, in Morocco.
    More Details Hide Details His presence was seen as an assertion of German interests in Morocco, in opposition to those of France. In his speech, he even made remarks in favour of Moroccan independence, and this led to friction with France, which had expanding colonial interests in Morocco, and to the Algeciras Conference, which served largely to further isolate Germany in Europe.
  • 1901
    Age 42
    Despite his poor relations with his English relatives, nevertheless, when he received news that Queen Victoria was dying at Osborne House in January 1901, Wilhelm traveled to England and was at her bedside when she died and remained for the funeral.
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  • 1900
    Age 41
    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.
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    Following the dismissal of Hohenlohe in 1900, Wilhelm appointed the man whom he regarded as "his own Bismarck", Bernhard von Bülow.
    More Details Hide Details 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. 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.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1897
    Age 38
    Wilhelm was fortunate to be able to call on the services of the dynamic naval officer Alfred von Tirpitz, whom he appointed to the head of the Imperial Naval Office in 1897.
    More Details Hide Details The new admiral had conceived of what came to be known as the "Risk Theory" or the Tirpitz Plan, by which Germany could force Britain to accede to German demands in the international arena through the threat posed by a powerful battlefleet concentrated in the North Sea. Tirpitz enjoyed Wilhelm's full support in his advocacy of successive naval bills of 1897 and 1900, by which the German navy was built up to contend with that of the British Empire.
  • 1896
    Age 37
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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, he became the central target of British anti-German propaganda and the personification of a hated enemy. 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 Russo-Japanese War to try and incite fear in the west of the yellow peril they faced by a resurgent Japan, which Wilhelm claimed would ally with China to overrun the west. Under Wilhelm Germany invested in strengthening its colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but few became profitable and all were lost during the First World War. In South West Africa (now Namibia), a native revolt against German rule led to the Herero and Namaqua Genocide, although Wilhelm eventually ordered it to be stopped.
  • 1890
    Age 31
    Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II's insistence in 1890, at the age of 75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of Germany and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi, who in turn was replaced by Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, in 1894.
    More Details Hide Details
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1889
    Age 30
    In 1889, Wilhelm's younger sister, Sophia, married the future King Constantine I of Greece.
    More Details Hide Details Wilhelm, infuriated by his sister's conversion to Greek Orthodoxy upon her marriage, attempted to ban her from entering Germany. 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 and often competed against his uncle in the yacht races. Edward's wife, the Danish-born Alexandra, first as Princess of Wales and later as Queen, also disliked Wilhelm, never forgetting the Prussian seizure of Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark in the 1860s, as well as being annoyed over Wilhelm's treatment of his mother.
    Although Bismarck had sponsored landmark social security legislation, by 1889–90, he had become disillusioned with the attitude of workers.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 and the Conservative Party. Bismarck wished to form a new bloc with the Centre Party, and invited Ludwig Windthorst, the party's parliamentary leader, to discuss a coalition. Wilhelm was furious to hear about Windthorst's visit. In a parliamentary state, the head of government depends on the confidence of the parliamentary majority and has the right to form coalitions to ensure his policies a majority, but in Germany, the Chancellor had to depend on the confidence of the Emperor, and Wilhelm believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his ministers' meeting. After a heated argument at Bismarck's estate over Imperial authority, Wilhelm stormed out. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Wilhelm's interference in foreign and domestic policy, which was published only after Bismarck's death.
    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.
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  • 1888
    Age 29
    Crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany on a bellicose "New Course" in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led in a matter of days to the First World War.
    More Details Hide Details Bombastic and impetuous, he sometimes made tactless pronouncements on sensitive topics without consulting his ministers, culminating in a disastrous Daily Telegraph interview in 1908 that cost him most of his influence. His leading generals, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, dictated policy during the First World War with little regard for the civilian government. An ineffective war-time leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.
    The German Emperor Wilhelm I died in Berlin on 9 March 1888, and Prince Wilhelm's father was proclaimed Emperor as Frederick III.
    More Details Hide Details He was already suffering from an incurable throat cancer and spent all 99 days of his reign fighting the disease before dying. On 15 June of that same year, his 29-year-old son succeeded him as German Emperor and King of Prussia. 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.
  • 1887
    Age 28
    One privilege was denied to Prince Wilhelm: to represent Germany at his maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria's, Golden Jubilee Celebrations in London in 1887.
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  • 1886
    Age 27
    In 1886, also, thanks to Herbert von Bismarck, the son of the Chancellor, Prince Wilhelm began to be trained twice a week at the Foreign Ministry.
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  • 1884
    Age 25
    Beginning in 1884, Bismarck began advocating that Kaiser Wilhelm send his grandson on various diplomatic missions, a privilege denied to the Crown Prince.
    More Details Hide Details That year, Prince Wilhelm was sent to the court of Tsar Alexander III in St. Petersburg to attend the coming of age ceremony of the sixteen-year-old Tsarevich Nicholas. However Wilhelm's behavior did little to ingratiate himself to the tsar. Two years later, Kaiser Wilhelm I took Prince Wilhelm on a trip to meet with the Austro-Hungarian emperor, Franz Joseph.
  • 1882
    Age 23
    In a period of ten years, between 1882 and 1892, Augusta Victoria would bear Wilhelm seven children, six sons and a daughter.
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  • 1881
    Age 22
    Wilhelm and his first wife, Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, were married on 27 February 1881.
    More Details Hide Details They had seven children: 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. 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.
  • 1880
    Age 21
    In 1880, however, 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.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1877
    Age 18
    As a teenager he was educated at Kassel at the Friedrichsgymnasium. In January 1877, Wilhelm finished high school and on his eighteenth birthday received as a present from his grandmother, Queen Victoria, the Order of the Garter.
    More Details Hide Details After Kassel he spent four terms at the University of Bonn, studying law and politics. He became a member of the exclusive Corps Borussia Bonn. Wilhelm possessed a quick intelligence, but this was often overshadowed by a cantankerous temper. As a scion of the Royal house of Hohenzollern, Wilhelm was exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy. This had a major impact on him and, in maturity, Wilhelm was seldom seen out of uniform. The hyper-masculine military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame his political ideals and personal relationships. 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 German Emperor as "Wilhelm the Great". However, he had a distant relationship with his mother.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1863
    Age 4
    In 1863, Wilhelm was taken to England to be present at the wedding of his Uncle Bertie, (later King Edward VII), and Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
    More Details Hide Details William attended the ceremony in a Highland costume, complete with a small toy dirk. During the ceremony the four-year-old became restless. His eighteen-year-old uncle Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, charged with keeping an eye on him, told him to be quiet, but Wilhelm drew his dirk and threatened Alfred. When Alfred attempted to subdue him by force, Wilhelm bit him on the leg. His grandmother, Queen Victoria, missed seeing the fracas; to her Wilhelm remained "a clever, dear, good little child, the great favourite of my beloved Vicky". 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.
  • 1861
    Age 2
    He was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, but more importantly, as the first son of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Wilhelm was from 1861 second in the line of succession to Prussia, and also, after 1871, to the newly created German Empire, which, according to the constitution of the German Empire, was ruled by the Prussian King.
    More Details Hide Details A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb's palsy, which he tried with some success to conceal. In many photos he carries a pair of white gloves in his left hand to make the arm seem longer, holds his left hand with his right, or has his crippled arm on the hilt of a sword or 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.
  • 1859
    Age 0
    Wilhelm was born on 27 January 1859 at the Crown Prince's Palace, Berlin to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future Frederick III) and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of his birth, his great-uncle Frederick William IV was king of Prussia, and his grandfather and namesake Wilhelm was acting as Regent.
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