Der Letzte Deutsche Kaiser - The Last German Emperor

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


It was just past 6.15 pm on the 22nd January 1901 in the ornate bedroom of a large Italianate mansion by the sea.
The old lady's family surrounded as her shallow breathing became weaker.
Her favorite grandson cradled the sweet old lady in his arms. 
Finally the dying woman breathed her last, and the devoted and distraught grandson gently closed the old lady's eyes.
The Queen-Empress, Victoria, ruler of the greatest empire in the world, had ended her long and eventful reign in her bedroom in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
Seventeen years later crowds were demanding the hanging, or even 'boiling alive in oil' of the devoted grandson, whose name was Wilhelm - Kaiser Wilhelm  - the Last German Emperor.
So what had happened in the intervening years.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Kaiser is the German title meaning "Emperor".
Imperial State Crown of India
Julius Ceasar
Like the Russian 'царь' (Czar)  it is directly derived from the Roman Emperors' title of 'Caesar', which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens (clan) Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar, the forebear of the first imperial family, belonged.
Although the British monarchs styled "Emperor of India" were also called "Kaisar-i-Hind" in Hindi and Urdu, this word, although ultimately sharing the same Latin origin, is derived from the Greek 'Kaisar', not the German Kaiser.
In English, the term the 'Kaiser' is usually reserved for the Emperors of the German Empire, the emperors of the Austrian Empire and those of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It is important to note that during the First World War, the term the 'Kaiser' - especially as applied to Wilhelm II of Germany — gained considerable pejorative connotations in English-speaking countries.

Wappen des Heiligen Römischen Reiches
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
The 'Holy Roman Emperors' (962–1806) called themselves 'Kaiser', combining the imperial title with that of Roman King (assumed by the designated heir before the imperial coronation); they saw their rule as a continuation of that of the Roman Emperors and used the title derived from the title Caesar to reflect their supposed heritage.
The rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1804–1918) were drawn from the Habsburg dynasty, who, after 1438, provided most of Holy Roman Emperors.
The Austrian-Hungarian rulers adopted the title 'Kaiser'.

Kaiserkrone des Heiligen Römischen Reiches
Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire
There were only three 'Kaisers' of the Austrian Empire, the successor empire to the 'Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation' (Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), and they have all belonged to the Habsburg dynasty.
The successor empire to the Austrian Empire was termed the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had only two 'Kaisers', both again from the Habsburg dynasty.
In 1871, there was much debate about the exact title for the monarch of those German territories (such as free imperial cities, principalities, duchies, and kingdoms) that agreed to unify under the leadership of Prussia, thereby forming the German Empire.
'Deutscher Kaiser' ("German Emperor") was chosen over alternatives such as 'Kaiser von Deutschland' ("Emperor of Germany"), or 'Kaiser der Deutschen' ("Emperor of the Germans"), as the chosen title simply connoted that the new emperor, hearkening from Prussia, was a German, but did not imply that this new emperor had dominion over all German territories.
There were only three Kaisers of 'das Zweite Reich' (the Second German Empire).
All of them belonged to the 'Hohenzollern' dynasty, which, as kings of Prussia, had been de facto leaders of lesser Germany.

Wappen des Hauses Hohenzollern
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near Hechingen.
The family uses the motto Nihil Sine Deo (English: Nothing Without God). The family coat of arms, first adopted in 1192, began as a simple shield quarterly sable and argent. A century later, in 1317, Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg, added the head and shoulders of a hound as a crest. Later quartering reflected heiresses’ marriages into the family.

Burg Hohenzollern - Hechingen
The family split into two branches, the Catholic Swabian branch and the Protestant Franconian branch, known also as the Kirschner line. The Swabian branch ruled the area of Hechingen until the revolution of 1848/49. The Franconian branch was more successful: members of the Franconian branch became Margrave of Brandenburg in 1415 and Duke of Prussia in 1525. Following the union of these two Franconian lines in 1618, the Kingdom of Prussia was created in 1701, eventually leading to the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871.
Social unrest at the end of World War I led to the German Revolution of 1918, with the formation of the Weimar Republic forcing the Hohenzollerns to abdicate, thus bringing an end to the modern German monarchy. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 set the final terms for the dismantling of the German Empire.

In English the (untranslated) word 'Kaiser' is mainly associated with the emperors of the unified German Empire (1871–1918), in particular with Kaiser Wilhelm II.
In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, but the title of 'Kaiser' was retained by the House of Habsburg, the head of which, beginning in 1804, bore the title of Emperor (Kaiser) of Austria.

Wappen der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie
Greater Coat of Arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Kaisers of the Austrian Empire (1804–1867) and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918) were:

Franz I (1804–1835)
Ferdinand I (1835–1848)
Franz Joseph I (1848–1916)
Karl I (1916–1918)

Wappen des Zweiten Deutsch Reich
Greater Arms of the German Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Kaisers of the German Empire (1871–1918) were:

Wilhelm I (1871–1888);
Frederick III (9 March-15 June 1888), who ruled for 99 days;
Wilhelm II (1888–1918), during whose reign the monarchy in Germany ended near the end of World War I
Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia, is currently head of the House of Hohenzollern, which was the former ruling dynasty of the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Karl von Habsburg is currently the head of the House of Habsburg.

Proklamation des Deutschen Reiches - Versailles - Frankreich
Deutscher Kaiser - (the German Emperor) was the official title of the Head of State and ruler of the German Empire, beginning with the proclamation of William I as Emperor during the Franco-Prussian War, on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris in France, and ending with the official abdication of William II on 18 November 1918, at the end of the First World War.

The title 'Deutscher Kaiser' (German Emperor) was carefully chosen by Otto von Bismarck after discussion until (and after) the day of the proclamation.
William I of Prussia accepted this title grudgingly as he would have preferred "Emperor of Germany" which was however, unacceptable to the federated monarchs, and would also have signalled a claim to lands outside of his reign (Austria, Swiss Confederation, Luxembourg etc.). The title Emperor of the Germans, as proposed in 1848, was ruled out as he considered himself chosen 'durch die Gnade Gottes' (By the Grace of God), not by the people as in a democracy.
By this ceremony, the 'Norddeutscher Bund' (North German Confederation) was transformed into the 'Deutsches Kaiserreich' (German Empire).
This empire was a federal monarchy; the emperor was head of state and president of the federated monarchs (die Könige (the Kings) of Bayern, Württemberg, Sachsen, die Großherzöge of Baden, Mecklenburg, Hesse, as well as other principalities, duchies and of the free cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen).

Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen
Kaiser Wilhelm I
Wilhelm I (Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, 22 March 1797 – 9 March 1888), of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King of Prussia (2 January 1861 – 9 March 1888) and the first German Emperor (18 January 1871 – 9 March 1888).
Under the leadership of Wilhelm and his Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire.

In his memoirs, Bismarck describes Wilhelm as an old-fashioned, courteous, infallibly polite gentleman, and a genuine Prussian officer, whose good common sense was occasionally undermined by "female influences".

In 1829, Wilhelm married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar and had two children:
Frederick III, German Emperor (1831–1888) and
Princess Louise of Prussia (1838–1923)

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William the First, by the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia; Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern; sovereign and supreme Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz; Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen; Duke of Saxony, of Westphalia, of Angria, of Pomerania, Lunenburg, Holstein and Schleswig, of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelders, Cleves, Jülich and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kassubes, of Crossen, Lauenburg and Mecklenburg; Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Prince of Orange; Prince of Rügen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and Pyrmont, of Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, of Verden, Cammin, Fulda, Nassau and Moers; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, Tecklenburg and Lingen, of Mansfeld, Sigmaringen and Veringen; Lord of Frankfurt.

Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen
Friedrich III - 
Friedrich III, Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen; (18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888) was German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in 1888, the 'Year of the Three Emperors'. Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl, known informally as Fritz, was the only son of Emperor William I and was raised in his family's tradition of military service.
Following the unification of Germany in 1871 his father, then King of Prussia, became the German Emperor.
On William's death at the age of 90 on 9 March 1888, the throne passed to Frederick, who had by then been Crown Prince for 27 years.
Frederick was suffering from cancer of the larynx when he died on 15 June 1888, aged 56, following unsuccessful medical treatments for his condition.
Frederick married Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The couple were well matched; their shared liberal ideology led them to seek greater representation for commoners in the government.

Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum - Potsdam - Berlin
Frederick, in spite of his conservative militaristic family background, had developed liberal tendencies as a result of his ties with Britain, and his studies at the University of Bonn.
As the Crown Prince, he often opposed the conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, particularly in speaking out against Bismarck's policy of uniting Germany through force, and in urging that the power of the Chancellorship be curbed.
Liberals in both Germany and Britain hoped that as emperor, Frederick III would move to liberalize the German Empire.
However, Frederick reigned for only 99 days.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht; 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) 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-Empress Victoria, and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe.
Crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany on a  "New Course" in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that contributed to conflict of the First World War.
An ineffective war leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.


Wilhelm was born on 27 January 1859 at the Crown Prince's Palace in Berlin to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future Frederick III) and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom.
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) the second in the line of succession to Prussia, and also, after 1871, to the German Empire, which, according to the constitution of the German Empire, was ruled by the Prussian King.
He was related to many royal figures across Europe.
A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb's palsy, making his left arm about 6 inches (15 centimeters) shorter than his right arm, which he tried with some success to conceal.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Erb's palsy or Erb–Duchenne palsy is a paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm's main nerves, specifically the severing of the upper trunk C5–C6 nerves. These form part of the brachial plexus, comprising the ventral rami of spinal nerves C5–C8 and thoracic nerve T1. These injuries arise most commonly, but not exclusively, from shoulder dystocia during a difficult birth. Depending on the nature of the damage, the paralysis can either resolve on its own over a period of months, necessitate rehabilitative therapy, or require surgery.

Georg Hinzpeter
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.
Wilhelm, from six years of age, was tutored and heavily influenced by the 39-year old teacher Georg Hinzpeter.

Wilhelm - Teenager
As a teenager he was educated at Kassel at the Friedrichsgymnasium, and the University of Bonn, where he became a member of Corps Borussia Bonn.
As a scion of the Royal house of Hohenzollern, Wilhelm was exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy.

Friedrichsgymnasium - Kassel
This had a major impact on him and, in maturity, Wilhelm was seldom seen out of uniform.
The 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 in 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, given the perceived influence of Wilhelm's mother over a figure who should have been possessed of masculine independence and strength.

Wilhelm the Great
Otto von Bismark
Wilhelm also idolized his grandfather, Wilhelm I, and he was instrumental in later attempts to foster a cult of the first German Emperor as "Wilhelm the Great".
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.


Kaiser Frederick III
The German Emperor Wilhelm I died in Berlin on 9 March 1888, and Prince Wilhelm's father was proclaimed Emperor as Frederick III.
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.

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative German statesman who dominated European affairs from the 1860s to his dismissal in 1890. After a series of short victorious wars he unified most of the German states (whilst excluding some, most notably Austria) into a powerful nation-state German Empire in 1871 under Prussian leadership, then created a "balance of power" that preserved peace in Europe from 1871 until 1914.

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 with the determination that he was going to rule as well as reign, unlike his grandfather, who had largely 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 unwisely 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.
It was during this time that 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.
This power had been used excessively at times against political opponents, and the National Liberal Party was unwilling to pass the expulsion clause in the first place.
Bismarck would not give his assent to a modified bill, so the Kartell split over this issue.
The Conservatives would support the bill only in its entirety and threatened to and eventually did veto the entire bill.
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.
Following his policy of active participation in government, 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.
Even if Wilhelm supported the altered anti-Socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety, but when Bismarck's arguments failed to convince Wilhelm, the Chancellor (uncharacteristically) blurted out his motive for having the bill fail: he wanted the Socialists to agitate until a violent clash occurred, which could be used as a pretext to crush them.
Wilhelm replied that he would not open his reign with a bloody campaign against his subjects. 
The next day, after realising his blunder, Bismarck attempted to reach a compromise with Wilhelm by agreeing to his social policy towards industrial workers and even suggested a European council to discuss working conditions, presided over by the German Emperor.
Despite this, a turn of events eventually led to his distance from Wilhelm.
Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the Emperor and undermined by ambitious advisors, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Wilhelm, as was required by the German Constitution, to protest Wilhelm's ever-increasing interference with Bismarck's previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the council that Wilhelm held so dear.
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.
When Bismarck realised that his dismissal was imminent all his resources were deployed; he even asked Empress Victoria to use her influence at her son on his behalf.
But the wizard had lost his magic; his spells were powerless because they were exerted on people who did not respect them, and he who had so signally disregarded Kant's command to use people as ends in themselves had too small a stock of loyalty to draw on.
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.

Reischstag - Berlin
Moreover the Kartell, the shifting political coalition that Bismarck had been able to forge since 1867, had lost a working majority in the Reichstag.
Bismarck also attempted to sabotage the council that the Kaiser was organising.
In March 1890, the dismissal of Bismarck coincided with the Kaiser's opening of the Labour Conference in Berlin.
Subsequently, 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.


Graf Leopold von Caprivi 
Dismissal of Bismark
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.

Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi de Caprera de Montecuccoli (Count George Leo of Caprivi, Caprera, and Montecuccoli, born Georg Leo von Caprivi; 24 February 1831 – 6 February 1899) was a German major general and statesman, who succeeded Otto von Bismarck as Chancellor of Germany. Caprivi served as German Chancellor from March 1890 to October 1894. As part of Kaiser Wilhelm's "Neuer Kurs" in foreign policy, Caprivi abandoned Bismarck's military, economic, and ideological cooperation with Russia, and was unable to forge a close relationship with Britain. He negotiated commercial treaties and emphasized the reorganization of the German military.

Chlodwig Carl Viktor, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Prince of Ratibor and Corvey (German: Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Fürst von Ratibor und Corvey) (31 March 1819 – 6 July 1901), usually referred to as the Prince of Hohenlohe, was a German statesman, who served as Chancellor of Germany and Prime Minister of Prussia from 1894 to 1900. Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, he had served in a number of other positions, including as Prime Minister of Bavaria (1866–1870), German Ambassador to Paris (1873–1880), Foreign Secretary (1880) and Imperial Lieutenant of Alsace-Lorraine (1885–1894). He was regarded as one of the most prominent liberal politicians of his time in Germany.

 Fürst Hohenlohe
Following the dismissal of Hohenlohe in 1900, Wilhelm appointed the man whom he regarded as "his own Bismarck", Bernhard von Bülow.

Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow (May 3, 1849 – October 28, 1929), named in 1905 Prince (Fürst) von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.

Bernhard von Bülow
Bülow reserved his mornings for Wilhelm, who would visit the chancellery every morning when in Berlin. His determination to remain on Wilhelm's good side was remarkable, even for those accustomed to Wilhelm's manner. Wilhelm's household controller noted, "Whenever, by oversight, he expresses an opinion in disagreement with the emperor, he remains silent for a few moments and then says the exact contrary, with the preface, 'as Your Majesty so wisely remarked'". He gave up tobacco, beer, coffee and liqueurs and took 35 minutes of exercise every morning and would ride in good weather through the Tiergarten. Sundays he would take long walks in the woods. In 1905, aged 56, he led his old Hussars regiment at the gallop in a parade for Wilhelm and was rewarded by an appointment to the rank of major general. Wilhelm remarked to Eulenburg in 1901, "Since I have Bülow I can sleep peacefully".
His first conspicuous act as chancellor was a masterly defense in the Reichstag of German imperialism in China. 

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.

Inauguration of the Reichstag (December 5, 1894)
There is debate among 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.
Something which Bismarck was able to effect was the creation of the "Bismarck myth".

Bethmann Hollweg
Alfred Thayer Mahan
This was a view - which some would argue was confirmed by subsequent events - that, with the dismissal of the Iron Chancellor, Wilhelm II effectively weakened any chance Germany had of stable and effective government.
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 Germany to declare itself a world power.
He ordered his military leaders to read Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan's book, 'The Influence of Sea Power upon History', and spent hours drawing sketches of the ships that he wanted built.
Bülow and Bethmann Hollweg, his loyal chancellors, looked after domestic affairs, and Wilhelm began to spread disuiet in the chancelleries of Europe with his increasingly eccentric views on foreign affairs.

Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (29 November 1856 – 1 January 1921) was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917.

In foreign policy, he pursued a policy of détente with Britain, hoping to come to some agreement that would put a halt to the two countries' ruinous naval arms race, but failed, largely due to the opposition of German Naval Minister Alfred von Tirpitz. Despite the increase in tensions due to the Second Moroccan Crisis of 1911, Bethmann Hollweg did improve relations with Britain to some extent, working with British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey to alleviate tensions during the Balkan Crises of 1912-1913, and negotiating treaties over an eventual partition of the Portuguese colonies and the Berlin-Baghdad railway. 
Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, Bethmann Hollweg and Foreign Secretary Gottlieb von Jagow were instrumental in assuring Austria of Germany's unconditional support regardless of Austria's actions against Serbia.
In the last days before the outbreak of war, once it became clear that, should war break out, British involvement was inevitable, he appeared to have some second thoughts, and he took half-hearted measures to prevent an all out war, until Russia's mobilization on 31 July 1914, took the matter out of his hands.


Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Eva Wagner Chamberlain
With Bismark long gone, Wilhelm needed a new source of inspiration for his ideology, and that person was to be found in the person of Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain (September 9, 1855 – January 9, 1927) was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and Richard Wagner.
Chamberlain married the composer's daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner's death.
His two-volume book, 'Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century), published in 1899, became one of the many references for the pan-Germanic movement of the early 20th century, and, later, of the völkisch philosophy of racial superiority.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Chamberlain's education began in a Lycée at Versailles and most of his education occurred on the continent, but his father had planned a military career for his son and at the age of eleven he was sent to Cheltenham College, an English boarding school which produced many army and navy officers.
The young Chamberlain was "a compulsive dreamer" more interested in the arts than the military, and he developed a fondness for nature and a near-mystical sense of self.
The prospect of serving as an officer in India or elsewhere in the British Empire held no attraction for him. In addition, he was a delicate child with poor health.
At the age of fourteen he had to be withdrawn from school.
He then traveled to various spas around Europe, accompanied by a Prussian tutor, Herr Otto Kuntze, who taught him German and interested him in German culture and history.
Richard Wagner
Chamberlain then went to Geneva, where he studied under Carl Vogt, (a supporter of racial typology at the University of Geneva) Graebe, Müller Argoviensis, Thury, Plantamour, and other professors.
He studied systematicbotany, geology, astronomy, and later the anatomy and physiology of the human body.
Thereafter he settled at Dresden, where "he plunged heart and soul into the mysterious depths of Wagnerian music and philosophy, themetaphysical works of the Master probably exercising as strong an influence upon him as the musical dramas."
Chamberlain was immersed in philosophical writings, and became a Völkisch author, one of those who were concerned more with art, culture, civilization and spirit than with quantitative physical distinctions between groups.
This is evidenced by his huge treatise on Immanuel Kant with its comparisons.

Friedrich Nietzsche
His knowledge of Friedrich Nietzsche is demonstrated in that work (p. 183) and 'Foundations' (p. 153n).
Arthur de Gobineau
By this time Chamberlain had met his first wife, the Prussian Anna Horst, whom he was to divorce in 1905.
In 1889 he moved to Austria.
During this time it is said his ideas on race began taking shape, influenced by the concept of Teutonic supremacy embodied in the works of Wagner and Arthur de Gobineau.
Chamberlain had attended Wagner's Bayreuth Festival in 1882 and struck up a close correspondence with his wife Cosima.
In 1908 he married Eva Wagner, the composer's daughter, and the next year he moved to Germany and became an important member of the "Bayreuth Circle" of German nationalist intellectuals.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was born in Southsea, Hampshire, England, the son of Rear Admiral William Charles Chamberlain, RN.
His mother, Eliza Jane, daughter of Captain Basil Hall, RN, died before he was a year old, and he was raised by his grandmother in France.

'Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts'

'Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts'
In 1899 Chamberlain wrote his most important work, 'Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' - 'The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century', - in German.
'Die Grundlagen'  (1899) was the best-selling work by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. In it he advances various racist and especially völkisch anti-Semitic theories on how he saw the Aryan race as superior to others, and the Teutonic peoples as a positive force in European civilization and the Jews as a negative one.
Chamberlain was a Germanophile who adopted German citizenship, and wrote most of his works in German (on numerous subjects, from biographies to biology).
Published in German, the book focuses on the controversial notion that Western civilization is deeply marked by the influence of the Teutonic peoples.
Chamberlain grouped all European peoples - not just Germans, but Celts, Slavs, Greeks, and Latins - into the "Aryan race", a race built on the ancient Proto-Indo-European culture.
At the helm of the Aryan race, and, indeed, all races, were the Nordic or Teutonic peoples.
Certain anthropologists would fain teach us that all races are equally gifted; we point to history and answer: that is a lie !
The races of mankind are markedly different in the nature and also in the extent of their gifts, and the Germanic races belong to the most highly gifted group, the group usually termed Aryan... Physically and mentally the Aryans are pre-eminent among all peoples; for that reason they are by right ... the lords of the world.”
Chamberlain's book focused on the claim that the Teutonic peoples were the heirs to the empires of Greece and Rome, something which Charlemagne and some of his successors also believed.
He argued that when the Germanic tribes destroyed the Roman Empire, Jews and other non-Europeans already dominated it.
The Germans, therefore, saved Western civilization from Semitic domination.
Chamberlain's thoughts were influenced by the writings of Arthur de Gobineau - (right) - who had argued the superiority of the "Aryan race".
 Houston Stewart Chamberlain
'Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' was published in 1900, and it was through the publication of the book that Wilhelm beacame familiar with Chamberlain's thinking.

Wilhelm II first met Houston Stewart Chamberlain in 1901.
Kaiser Wilhelm II patronized Chamberlain, maintaining a correspondence, inviting him to stay on many occasions at his court, distributing copies of 'Die Grundlagenamong' the German army, and seeing that 'Die Grundlagen' was carried in German libraries and included in the school curricula.
'Die Grundlagen' would prove to be a seminal work in German nationalism; due to its success, aided by Chamberlain's association with the Wagner circle, its ideas of Aryan supremacy and a struggle against Jewish influence spread widely across the German state at the beginning of the century.


Wilhelm II enthusiastically promoted the arts and sciences, as well as public education and social welfare.
He sponsored the 'Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschafte' (Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science) 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 Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science (German Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften) was a German scientific institution established in the German Kaiserreich in 1911. During the Third Reich it was involved in scientific operations, and after the Second World War was wound up, its functions being taken over by the Max Planck Society. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was an umbrella organization for many institutes, testing stations, and research units spawned under its authority.

Protector of the Order of Saint John
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 II 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.


Historians have frequently stressed the role of Wilhelm's personality in shaping his reign.

Wilhelm II
Kaiserin Frederick
Gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,- technology, industry, science - but at the same time 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 balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, 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, - he had a pathological love-hate against his English mother.
In addition Wilhelm had an unresolved love-hate relationship with Britain.
From the outset, it should be remembered that 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,and yet 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.
Like many Germans of this period 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 was mildly bi-polar.
The Kaiser lived, like all his predecessors, in the 'Stadtschloss Palace' in Berlin.

Potsdamer Stadtschloss
The Potsdam City Palace (German: Potsdamer Stadtschloss) was a historical building in Potsdam, Germany. It was the second official residence (the winter residence) of the Margraves and electors of Brandenburg, later kings in Prussia, kings of Prussia and German emperors. It stood on the Old Market in Potsdam, next to the Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche) and the Old Townhall.

Wilhelm in Admiral's Uniform
The baroque palace was constructed on the site of an earlier fortification from 1662 to 1669 under Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, and was rebuilt by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff under Friedrich II from 1744 to 1752, who performed additional interior decoration. It stood as one of the most important examples of Frederician Rococo.

In the summer, he is used to spend his vacations near the Norwegian coasts on one of his private yachts.
He was very fond of appearing in  uniform (like wearing an admiral's uniform while visiting an aquarium), and also loved to hunt stag in Prussian forests in company of his advisers.
Despite his arm malformation, he also loved to ride was was an accomplished horseman.


Wilhelm's entourage consisted mainly of two groups: military and the "camarilla", the latter represented by Eulenburg and his 'Liebenberg Circle'.

Philipp Fuerst von Eulenburg 
Philipp Fuerst von Eulenburg was born at Königsberg, Province of Prussia, the eldest son of Philipp Konrad Graf zu Eulenburg (Königsberg, 24 April 1820 - Berlin, 5 March 1889) and of his wife, Alexandrine Freiin von Rothkirch und Panthen (Glogau, 20 June 1824 - Meran, 11 April 1902). The Eulenburgs were a Junker family which belonged to the Uradel (ancient nobility). For generations the family had served the House of Hohenzollern; his uncle, Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenburg served as Interior Minister of Prussia as did his cousin Botho zu Eulenburg.

Roughly said, both fulfilled the same function for Kaiser Wilhelm II, despite the inherent opposition (on the one side the masculine military, on the other side the art-oriented, intellectual, feminine Liebenberg Circle). They both assured him in his masculinity.
Wilhelm needed this because he had problems of self-esteem stemming from his childhood. deformity (see above).

Queen-Empress Victoria 
Kaiserin (Empress) Frederick 
This in itself would not have had such a great influence on Wilhelm's psyche, since he learned how to cope with this disability.
What was worse than this was the way in which he learned to cope with it, and how his mother treated him.
His mother Victoria, daughter of Queen-Empress Victoria of England and married to crown prince Friedrich, the son of Kaiser Wilhelm I, came to Germany with great plans.
Together with her husband she wanted to transform the German monarchy to a liberal monarchy, such as the one already established in England.
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
She wanted to bring up her son in the idealised image she had of her father, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
But when she became aware of Wilhelm's disability to move his left arm, she felt that he would not be able to fulfil her great expectations.
Her first reaction was attempting to cure Wilhelm's stunted arm, but when he made only slow efforts, she reacted with rejection of her son.
Wilhelm saw the different medical treatments he had to endure as tortures, and they helped their part to alienate him from his mother.
In the same way that she withdrew her love from him, he also began to hate her and placed the guilt for all of his suffering on her.
Kaiser Friedrich III 
Wilhelm's father, Friedrich, left the upbringing of his children in the hands of his wife.
Although most of Wilhelm's memories of his father were good, Friedrich and his son had no close relationship.
Despite this, Wilhelm glorified his father, but Friedrich's presence in his son's life was not strong enough to play a paternal role towards Wilhelm.
More than that, realising the fact that Victoria dominated Friedrich, Wilhelm had to put even more blame on his mother.
His longing to win back his father from his mother's influence, a negative Oedipus-complex, when Vitoria undermined the position Wilhelm wanted his father to have, had a big influence for Wilhelm's later entourage.
Dr. Georg Hinzpeter
Other men around the young Wilhelm were not able to fill the gap his father left, least of all his tutor Dr. Georg Hinzpeter, who by function would have been predestined for this role.
Hinzpeter was appointed Wilhelm's tutor in 1866, when Victoria thought the boy needed a male person around him.
The tutor took his duties seriously and taught Wilhelm in a coldly rational and eventually brutal way.
It was impossible to satisfy Hinzpeter, who never gave encouraging words or praise, but always expected perfection: - an impossibility.
One of the most torturing experiences was when Wilhelm at the age of eight-and-a-half still could not ride because of his left arm.
Hinzpeter taught him to keep balance on the horse by ordering him to try it again without pause. It took some weeks, but finally Wilhelm could ride despite his disability.
Wilhelm later placed the blame for this poor treatment on his mother.
It is not possible to say to what extent Wilhelm's psychological defects were inherited or the outcome of his childhood and youth, however, following the psychoanalytic model can give in this case at least some explanations for the behaviour Wilhelm showed in his later life.
The two main groups of Wilhelm's entourage - the military and 'Liebenberg Circle' - were chosen subconsciously by the Kaiser because they helped him to deal with his problems.
Both of them served the purpose of male companionship and, as it is mentioned above, assured him in his masculinity.
Wilhelm preferred male companionship for different reasons.
It was on the one hand the outgrowth of his longing for a strong idealised father, and furthermore a result of the experiences Wilhelm made in his family life.

His father was dominated by his mother, and Wilhelm saw this as the reason for his father's absence.
This finally led to a general aversion of women, and to the glorification of an all-male companionship - the "Männerbund", clearly identifiable in both parts of Wilhelm's entourage.
Symbolic of Wilhelm's affection for the military is the fact that one of his first sentences was "Soldat ist ein schöner Mensch".
German Soldiers Parading - Berlin
Soldiers gave Wilhelm a sense of stability and security.
The command of his troops gave him a sense of confidence and power.
When he was together with army generals, whom Wilhelm admired from his early childhood, Wilhelm vicariously participated in their masculine activities.
Through them, he tried to achieve a masculine identity.

Wilhelm II Gala Uniform
He could even feel more masculine than them, because they had to obey his orders.
Wilhelm's love of uniform has to be seen in the same context: When wearing a uniform, Wilhelm could show that he was part of the army, once again proving he was as leader of the army more masculine than them.
The second way for Wilhelm to derive strength from his masculine entourage through their degradation.

General Dietrich von Hülsen-Haeseler
The most famous example of this occurred when General Dietrich von Hülsen-Haeseler, chief of the military cabinet, died of a heart attack in 1908, shortly after he had to dance in front of the Kaiser dressed as a ballerina.
The humiliation of honourable members of his military entourage allowed Wilhelm to feel as if he was the only sober person surrounded by tipsy and childish companions, and thus gained self-confidence.
The military assured Wilhelm in his masculinity because of its masculinity, while the 'Liebenberg Circle' assured Wilhelm in his masculinity because of its femininity.
Here, homo-eroticism plays a role as the circle was feminine due to the 'passive-homosexual' orientation of most of its members.
There is almost no doubt that Philipp Count zu Eulenburg-Hertefeld, the pivot of the 'Liebenberg Circle', was homosexual.
Eulenburg had heterosexual tendencies (he had a wife and eight children and was described as a "devoted father"), so that perhaps "bisexual" is a better term.
But Eulenburg's homosexual side was stronger.
He enjoyed his family life only for a short time, and the only female person he was ever close to in his life was his mother.
The relationship to his male companions of the 'Liebenberg Circle' seems to have been by far stronger than any relationship to a female with the exception of his mother.

The main source for the examination of Eulenburg and the 'Liebenberg Circle' is Eulenburg's correspondence, and although in the letters homosexuality is never directly mentioned, some evidence can be found that Eulenburg's friendship to Kuno von Moltke, a member of the 'Liebenberg Circle', included more than an ordinary friendship, and that the whole "Männerbund" lived out in the 'Liebenberg Circle' had a homoerotic background.
Eulenburg also had sexual relationships to lower-class men, which was proved by Maximilian Harden during the Munich process in 1908.
Maximilian Harden
Wilhelm's close friendship to Philipp Count zu Eulenburg, and thus the whole affiliation with the 'Liebenberg Circle' served Wilhelm's psyche in different ways.
Eulenburg gave the Kaiser, seven years his junior, the friendly affection which Wilhelm had never received from his parents.
Eulenburg's genuine affection also stood in contrast to the flattery of those who sought only their own advancement when they met Wilhelm.
Eulenburg had bad health and suffered constantly from a number of illnesses.
He also had hypochondrious tendencies.
Eulenburg's weakness made the Kaiser feel more masculine, self-confident, and powerful. Eulenburg's melodramatic suffering and self-pity helped Wilhelm to overcome anxiety about his own health by playing the role of the stronger, more courageous friend who offers encouragement and support.
Up to this point Wilhelm's personality concerning his relationships to men can be explained without assuming he was homosexual.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Nontheless, labelling Wilhelm as a repressed or latent homosexual, who was perhaps unaware of this fact, gives hints to the explanation of Wilhelm's complex personality.
Yet Wilhelm's psychological shortcomings cannot be simplified to a hidden sexual orientation.
Assuming Wilhelm was homosexual can only contribute partially to an explanation of his character.
The exposure of Eulenburg and other members of his group was not initially pursued because of the 'homoerotic' nature of the group, but rather because Eulenburg was seen as a detrimental influence on Wilhelm's approach to the governance of the Reich.
Subsequently the accusations against the group involved a number of court cases, which did little to guide Wilhelm onto a more constitutional approach with regard to the political situation, and unfortunately damaged the reputation of certain groups in the officer corps and the aristocracy.


In February, 27 1881, Wilhelm II married the eldest daughter of Duke Friedrich VIII of Schleswig-Holstein, the Princess Auguste Viktoria Friederike Luise Feodora Jenny of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, who was known as Empress Augusta-Viktoria (born on October, 22 1858).

Kaiserin Augusta-Viktoria 
Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein (22 October 1858 – 11 April 1921) was the last German Empress and Queen of Prussia.
She was the eldest daughter of Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
Her maternal grandparents were Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Feodora of Leiningen, half-sister of Queen Victoria.

On 27 February 1881, Augusta married Prince Wilhelm of Prussia in an eight-hour ceremony that required everyone to remain standing.
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was a strong proponent of the marriage, believing that it would end the dispute between the Prussian government and Augusta's father.
Wilhelm had earlier proposed to his first cousin, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (known in the family as "Ella"), but she declined.
Wilhelm did not take that well - and was adamant to soon marry another princess.
Wilhelm's family was originally against the marriage with Augusta Viktoria, whose father was not even a sovereign, but in the end, Wilhelm's intransigence, the support of Bismarck, and a determination to move beyond the rejection of his proposal to Ella, led the reluctant imperial family to give official consent.
Kaiserlichen Monogramm
Kaiserin Augusta Victoria

Augusta was known as "Dona" within the family.
She enjoyed a somewhat lukewarm relationship with her mother-in-law, Victoria, who had hoped that Dona would help to heal the rift between herself and Wilhelm; sadly, this was not to be the case.
In 1920, the shock of exile and abdication proved too much for Augusta.
She died in 1921, in House Doorn at Doorn in the Netherlands.
The Weimar Republic allowed her remains to be transported back to Germany, where they still lie in the 'Temple of Antiquities', not far from the New Palace, Potsdam.

They had seven children together, and the Empress died on April, 11 1921, in the last years of the Weltkrieg (First World War), certainly depressed by the devastating war.

Kaiserin Hermine
Taking advantage of the Kaiser's birthday in 1922, the recently widowed Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz (born on December, 17 1887), was invited with her son to the Imperial Palace. The old Kaiser found the widow very attractive, despite the fact she was 30 years younger than him and had already five children.
Despite the grumblings of his personal advisers and his children, the Kaiser married the woman on November, 9 1922, now known as Empress Hermine. They had no children.

1. Kronprinz Wilhelm (born Friedrich Wilhelm Victor August Ernst on May, 6 1882), official heir to his father as German Kaiser and King of Prussia. Married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, had six children.
2. Prince Eitel Friedrich (born Wilhelm Eitel Friedrich Christian Karl on July, 7 1883). Married Duchess Sophie Charlotte Holstein-Gottorp of Oldenburg, they had no children.
3. King Adalbert (born Adalbert Ferdinand Berengar Viktor on July, 14 1884), current king of Flanders-Wallonia. Married Adelheid Arna Karoline Marie Elisabeth of Saxe-Meiningen, had two living children. As king of another country, renounced to his rights to the Prussian throne.
4. Prince August Wilhelm (born August Wilhelm Heinrich Günther on January, 29 1887), controversial due to his links to the Pan-Germanist GDVP. Married Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, had a son.
5. Prince Oskar (born Oskar Karl Gustav Adolf on July, 27 1888), married morganically Countess Ina-Marie Helene Adele Elise von Bassewitz, thus renunciating to his succession rights, had four children.
6. Prince Joachim (born Joachim Franz Humbert on December, 17 1890), king of Ireland for three months before Irish dictator Michael Collins abolished the monarchy imposed by the Germans. Diseappeared from political life after his failed tentative of suicide in 1923, due to his failed marriage. Married Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt, had one son.
7. Princess Viktoria Luise (born Viktoria Luise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte on September, 13 1892), duchess of Braunschweig. Married Ernst August III, Duke of Braunschweig, had five children.


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.

Paul Kruger
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 key exceptions, such as the famous Kruger telegram of 1896 in which Wilhelm congratulated President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic on the suppression of the Jameson Raid, thus alienating British public opinion.

Boxer Rebellion - China
Wilhelm invented and spread fears of a yellow peril trying to interest other European rulers in the perils they faced by invading Chinese; few other leaders paid attention.
After the murder of Clemens von Ketteler during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, German troops were sent to China.
Under Wilhelm Germany attempted to develop its colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but few became self-supporting, and all were lost during World War I. 

Herzogin von Hohenberg
One of the few times Wilhelm succeeded in personal diplomacy was when he supported Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in marrying Sophie Chotek in 1900 against the wishes of Emperor Franz Joseph.

Herzogin von Hohenberg - Sophie Maria Josephine Albina Gräfin Chotek von Chotkow und Wognin - (Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg) - (1 March 1868 – 28 June 1914) was a Czech aristocrat from the Kingdom of Bohemia, the morganatic wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Their assassination sparked World War I.
She was granted the title of Duchess of Hohenberg with the style of Highness in 1909.

Prinzessin Victoria Louise
One 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 after the 1866 annexation of Hanover by Prussia.
One of Wilhelm II's diplomatic blunders sparked the Moroccan Crisis of 1905, when Wilhelm made a spectacular visit to Tangier, in Morocco.
Wilhelm's presence was seen as an assertion of German interests in Morocco, in opposition to France.
In his speech he even made certain remarks in favour of Moroccan independence.
This led to friction with France, which had expanding colonial interests in Morocco, and led to the Algeciras Conference, which served largely to further isolate Germany in Europe.
This Moroccan debacle can be seen as an aspect of Wilhelm's strange involvement with the Ottoman Empire.


محمد خامس
Mehmed V Reshad
Osmanli Armasi 
Wilhelm II of Germany enjoyed a personal romance with Islam, intensified by national strategic imperatives.
There is concrete evidence that Turco-German-jihad action plans were ready to go when the guns of August started firing.
The Kaiser’s Islamic enthusiasm was fired by an 1889 visit to Turkey, which Bismarck opposed on the grounds that it would gratuitously alarm the Russians.
Wilhelm met the murderous Sultan Abdul Hamid II and enjoyed the sinuous gyrations of the Circassian dancers in his Constantinople harem.
In 1898 Wilhelm returned to the Ottoman Empire and rode into Jerusalem through a breach specially made in its walls, allegedly to dedicate the new Church of the Redeemer, built by German Protestants.
This pilgrimage was deemed somewhat less benign than it sounded, since the Kaiser wore a field marshal’s uniform with holstered pistol.
Referring to the Kaiser as Haji Wilhelm, the German Intelligence Bureau for the East spread propaganda throughout the region, fostering rumours that the Kaiser had converted to Islam following a secret trip to Mecca, and portraying him as a savior of Islam.
The Kaiser and some influential German diplomats, bankers, and soldiers were powerfully attracted by the notion of establishing a bridgehead in the Near East to exploit its natural resources.
The foremost manifestation of German influence would be a railway built from the Asian shore of Constantinople to Baghdad, crossing not only Turkey’s vast wildernesses but the Taurus Mountains and bandit regions of Syria and Mesopotamia.
Wilhelm’s ambassador to the Ottoman court, Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, wrote that the railway must be constructed “with only German materials and for the purpose of bringing goods and people to [Asia]…from the heart of Germany.

The railway would run from Berlin to the Persian Gulf, and would further connect to British India through Persia.
This railway could provide a short and quick route from Europe to Asia, and could carry German exports, troops and artillery.
At the time, the Ottoman Empire could not afford such a railway, and Abdülhamid II was grateful to Wilhelm's offer, but was suspicious over the German motives.
Abdülhamid II's secret service believed that German archaeologists in the Emperor's retinue were in fact geologists with designs on the oil wealth of the Ottoman empire.
Later, the secret service uncovered a German report, which noted that the oilfields in Mosul, northern Mesopotamia were richer than that in the Caucuses.
In his first visit, Wilhelm secured the sale of German-made rifles to Ottoman Army, and in his second visit he secured a promise for German companies to construct the Istanbul-Baghdad railway.

Bağdat Demiryolu - Baghdad Railway
Bağdat Demiryolu (Bagdadbahn - The Baghdad Railway), was built from 1903 to 1940 to connect Berlin with the Ottoman Empire city of Baghdad, where the Germans wanted to establish a port in the Persian Gulf, with a 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) line through modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.
Funding and engineering was mainly provided by German Empire banks and companies, which in the 1890s had built the Anatolian Railway (Anatolische Eisenbahn) connecting Constantinople, Ankara and Konya. The Ottoman Empire wished to maintain its control of Arabia and to expand its influence across the Red Sea into the nominally Ottoman (until 1914) Khedivate of Egypt, which had been under British military control since the Urabi Revolt in 1882. The Germans gained access to and ownership of oil fields in Iraq, and with a line to the port of Basra would have gained better access to the eastern parts of the German colonial empire, by avoiding the Suez Canal.
The railway became a source of international disputes during the years immediately preceding World War I.
It has been argued that the railway was a leading cause of the First World War.
Technical difficulties in the remote Taurus Mountains and diplomatic delays meant that by 1915 the railway was still 480 kilometres (300 mi) short of completion, severely limiting its use during the war in which Baghdad was occupied by the British while the Hejaz railway in the south was attacked by guerrilla forces led by T. E. Lawrence. Construction resumed in the 1930s and was completed in 1940.
A history of this railway in the context of World War I history has lately emerged to describe the German interests in countering the British Empire, and Turkey's interest in countering their Russian rivals.

The Central Powers
The involvement with the Ottoman Empire  led to the creation of the Central Powers (German: Mittelmächte; Turkish: İttifak Devletleri or Bağlaşma Devletleri) were one of the two warring factions in World War I (1914–18), composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria.
This alignment originated in the Triple Alliance, and fought against the Allied Powers that had formed around the Triple Entente.

A Prussian military mission had been entrusted with the modernization of the Ottoman army as early as 1835 and since that time the Germans were viewed by the Ottomans as friends.
Wilhelm II visited Istanbul twice during Abdülhamid's reign in 1889 and in 1898, the first Western sovereign to do so. The Germans embarked in a policy of encouraging Pan-Islamism in the hope that Muslim rebellions would dislodge the British from the Middle East.
In his second visit Kaiser Wilhelm visited Jerusalem on October 29, 1898. He dedicated a German Protestant church but he also took care of the Catholics by sending a telegram to Pope Leo XIII offering his protection of Catholics in the Holy Land. The Kaiser next visited Damascus where he laid a wreath on the tomb of Sala'din and offered to build a marble mausoleum in his honor. He topped it all by declaring in a speech: "May the Sultan (i.e. Abdülhamid) and his 300 million subjects scattered across the earth, who venerate him as their Caliph, be assured that the German Kaiser will be their friend for all time". There were several problems with this declaration: the Shia Muslims of Persia and what is now southern Iraq did not accept the Ottoman sultan as their caliph; and most important, many of the 300 million Muslims were subject of Britain or France. But of course, that was the point for the German Kaiser. He wanted to use Islam to cause trouble for the British and the French.

Bronsart von Schellendorf
As the war progressed Germany became increasingly involved in the management of the poorly trained and poorly equipped Ottoman forces, and Friedrich (Fritz) Bronsart von Schellendorf (1864–1950) was appointed as the chief of the Ottoman General Staff, part of German military mission in the Ottoman Empire.
The ruler of the Ottoman Empire during the period of the Central Powers was  محمد خامس  (Mehmed V Reshad).
He was born at Topkapı Palace, Constantinople.
Like many other potential heirs to the throne, he was confined for 30 years in the Harems of the palace.
For nine of those years he was in solitary confinement. During this time he studied poetry of the old Persian style and was an acclaimed poet.

His reign began on 27 April 1909 but he was largely a figurehead with no real political power, as the Ottoman state affairs were largely run by the 'Three Pashas' since the 'Young Turk Revolution' in 1908.

Members of the Committee of Union and Progress
The Young Turks( chikas) (Turkish: Jön Türkler (plural) or Turkish: Genç Türkler (plural), from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) was a secularist Turkish nationalist reform party in the early twentieth century, favoring reformation of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire. Officially known as the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), their leaders led a rebellion against Sultan Abdul Hamid II. They contributed to establish the Second Constitutional Era in 1908 and The İttihat ve Terakki (Committee of Union and Progress) based on the ideas of the Young Turks ruled the Ottoman empire from 1908 until the end of World War I in November 1918.

Enver Pasha
Enver Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: انور پاشا‎, Turkish: Enver Paşa) or Ismail Enver Pasha (اسماعیل انور پاشا‎, İsmail Enver Paşa‎, born Ismail Enver) (November 22, 1881 – August 4, 1922) was an Ottoman military officer and a leader of the Young Turk revolution. He was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I. 
As a war minister and de facto Commander-in-Chief (de jure he was Deputy Commander-in-Chief, since formally the Sultan held the title), Enver Pasha was considered to be the most powerful figure of the government of Ottoman Turkey.

Talaat Pasha
Talaat Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: طلعت پاشا, born Mehmed Talaat (Ottoman Turkish: محمد طلعت, Turkish: Mehmed Talât or Mehmet Talat) (1874–1921) was one of the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress that controlled the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Djemal Pasha
In 1917, Talaat became the Grand Vizier, but was unable to reverse the downward spiral of Ottoman fortunes in his new position.
Over the next year, Jerusalem and Baghdad were lost, and in October 1918 the British shattered both Ottoman armies they faced. With defeat certain, Talaat resigned on October 14, 1918.

Djemal Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: جمال پاشا, modern Turkish: Cemal Paşa), born Ahmed Djemal (Ottoman Turkish: احمد جمال, Turkish: Ahmet Cemal; 6 May 1872 - 21 July 1922), was a Young Turk and member of the Three Pashas. Djemal was also Mayor of Istanbul.

Mehmed V's only significant political act was, as Caliph, to formally declare 'jihad' against the Entente Powers (Allies of World War I) on 11 November 1914, following the Ottoman government's decision to join the First World War on the side of the Central Powers.
This was the last genuine proclamation of jihad in history by a Caliph, as the Caliphate ended in 1924.

Enver Pasha had the Sultan proclaimed jihad in the hope that it would provoke and aid a vast Muslim revolution, particularly in India.
Translations of the proclamation were sent to Berlin for propaganda purposes, for distribution to Muslim troops of the Entente Powers, however, while widely heard, the proclamation did not have the intended effect of mobilising global Muslim opinion on behalf of Turkey or the Central Powers.

The proclamation had no noticeable effect on the war, despite the fact that many Muslims lived in Ottoman territories.
The Arabs eventually joined the British forces against the Ottomans with the Arab Revolt in 1916.
Mehmed V hosted Kaiser Wilhelm II, his World War I ally, in Constantinople on 15 October 1917.
He was made Generalfeldmarschall of the Kingdom of Prussia on 27 January 1916, and of the Empire of Germany on 1 February 1916.
The Ottoman Sultan specifically wanted the Empire to remain a non-belligerent nation, however, pressure from some of Mehmed's senior advisors led the Empire to align with the Central Powers.
Whilst Great Britain was unenthusiastic about aligning with the Ottoman Empire Germany was enthusiastic.
Germany needed the Ottoman Empire on its side.
The Orient Express had run directly to Constantinople since 1889, and prior to the First World War the Sultan had consented to a plan to extend it through Anatolia to Baghdad under German auspices.
This would strengthen the Ottoman Empire's link with industrialised Europe, while also giving Germany easier access to its African colonies and to trade markets in India.
To keep the Ottoman Empire from joining the Triple Entente, Germany encouraged Romania and Bulgaria to enter the Central Powers.
Led by Enver Pasha, a coup in Turkey in 1913 sidelined Sultan Mehmed V, and concentrated power in the hands of a junta.
Despite the secular nature of the new government, Turkey retained its traditional influence over the Muslim world.
Turkey ruled Hejaz until the Arab Revolt of 1916 and controlled the Muslim holy city of Mecca throughout the war.
Osmanli Devleti Nisani Yeni
The Sultan's title of Caliph was recognised as legitimate by most Muslims, including those in Afghanistan and India.
A secret treaty was then concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on August 2, 1914.
The Ottoman Empire was to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers one day after the German Empire declared war on Russia.
The alliance was ratified on 2nd August by many high ranking Ottoman officials, including Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha, the Minister of War Enver Pasha, the Interior Minister Talat Pasha, and Head of Parliament Halil Bey.
However, there was no signature from the House of Osman as the Sultan Mehmed V did not sign it.
The Sultan was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as written in the constitution, this made the legitimacy of the Alliance questionable.
This meant that the army was not be able to fight a jihad on behalf of the Sultan.
He did not wish to command a war himself, and as such left the Cabinet to do much of his bidding.
The third member of the cabinet of the 'Three Pashas', Djemal Pasha also did not sign the treaty as he had tried to form an alliance with France.
The Alliance was not universally accepted by all parts of the Ottoman government.
The Ottoman Empire did not enter the war until German elements in the Ottoman Navy took matters into their own hands and bombarded Russian ports on the 29th of October 1914.
Once at war, Turkey joined Germany in taking aim at the opposing Entente Powers and their extensive empires in the Muslim world.


Nothing Wilhelm II 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.

Spithead Diamond Jubilee Review 26 June 1897
King-Emperor Edward VII
He had inherited from his English mother a love of the British Royal Navy, which was at that time the world's largest.
He once confided to his uncle, Edward VII, that his dream was to have a "fleet of my own some day".
Wilhelm's frustration over his fleet's poor showing at the Fleet Review at his grandmother Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, combined with his inability to exert German influence in South Africa following the dispatch of the Kruger telegram, led to Wilhelm taking definitive steps toward the construction of a fleet to rival that of his British cousins.

Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz
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.

Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz (March 19, 1849 – March 6, 1930) was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten the British Royal Navy. His navy, however, was not strong enough to confront the British successfully in World War I; the one great naval Battle of Jutland was a draw. Tirpitz turned to submarine warfare, which antagonized the United States. He was dismissed in 1916 and never regained power.

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 battle-fleet 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 United Kingdom.

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.
In 1889 Wilhelm II re-organised top level control of the navy by creating a 'Marine-Kabinett' (Navy Cabinet) - (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 'Marine-Kabinett' was responsible for promotions, appointments, administration and issuing orders to naval forces.
Captain Gustav von Senden-Bibran was appointed as its first head and remained so until 1906.
The existing kaiserlichen Admiralität (Imperial Admiralty) was abolished and its responsibilities divided between two organisations.
A new position (equivalent to the supreme commander of the army) was created, Chef des Oberkommandos der Marine, being 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 Chancellor and advising the Reichstag on naval matters.
The first appointee was Rear Admiral 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 II.
In addition to the expansion of the fleet the 'Kiel Canal' was opened in 1895 enabling faster movements between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.


Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand
Wilhelm was a friend of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914.
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.
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.
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:
'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 [the Ambassador] Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade.
On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation.'

Kaiser Franz Josef
Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 84-year-old Francis 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:

'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.'

When it became clear that Germany would experience a war on two fronts and that the United Kingdom would enter the war if Germany attacked France through neutral Belgium Wilhelm attempted to redirect the main attack against Russia.
When Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) (who had chosen the old plan from 1905, made by the former German general von Schlieffen for the possibility of German war on two fronts) told him that this was impossible, Wilhelm said: "Your uncle would have given me a different answer!"
Wilhelm is also reported to have said, "To think that George and Nicky should have played me false! If my grandmother had been alive, she would never have allowed it."
In the original Schlieffen plan, Germany would attack the (supposed) weaker enemy first, meaning France.
The plan supposed that it would take a long time before Russia was ready for war.
Defeating France had been easy for Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
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. However, Wilhelm II got von Moltke (the younger) to not also invade the Netherlands.


Wilhelm's role in wartime was of ever-decreasing power as he increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties.
The high command foolishly 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 Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff.

Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known universally as Paul von Hindenburg -  (2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934.
Hindenburg enjoyed a long career in the Prussian Army, retiring in 1911. He was recalled at the outbreak of World War I, and first came to national attention, at the age of 66, as the victor at Tannenberg in 1914. As Germany's Chief of the General Staff from 1916, he and his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, rose in the German public's esteem until Hindenburg came to eclipse the Kaiser himself.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life one more time in 1925 to be elected as the second President of Germany.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes referred to as von Ludendorff) (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany's effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.
After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader who was convinced that the German Army had been betrayed by Marxists and Republicans in the Versailles Treaty. He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg,

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.

Helmuth von Moltke
Prinz Ruprecht and Wilhelm II
Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September 1914 and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn.

Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke (23 May 1848, Biendorf – 18 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger, was a nephew of Field Marshal Count Moltke and served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger. Moltke the Younger's role in the development of German war plans and the instigation of the First World War is extremely controversial.

Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.

Falkenhayn succeeded Moltke as Chief of the General Staff of the German Army after the Battle of the Marne on 14 September 1914. Confronted with the failure of the Schlieffen Plan due to Moltke's interference, he attempted to outflank the British and French in the "Race to the Sea", a series of engagements throughout northern France and Belgium in which each side tried to turn the other's flank until they reached the coastline. The British and French eventually stopped the Germans at the First Battle of Ypres (October–November 1914).
Falkenhayn preferred an offensive strategy on the Western Front while conducting a limited campaign in the east: he hoped that Russia would accept a separate armistice more easily if it had not been humiliated too much. This brought him into conflict with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who favored massive offensives in the east. Eventually – either in the hope that a massive slaughter would lead Europe's political leaders to consider ending the war, or that losses would in the end be less harmful for Germany than for France – Falkenhayn staged a massive battle of attrition, as claimed in his post-war memoires, at Verdun in early 1916. Although more than a quarter of a million soldiers eventually died – for which Falkenhayn was sometimes called "the Blood-Miller of Verdun" – neither side's resolve was lessened, because, contrary to Falkenhayn's assumptions, the Entente was able to replace their dead. 
After the failure at Verdun, coupled with several reverses in the east and incessant lobbying by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Falkenhayn was replaced as Chief of Staff by Hindenburg.

Georg Michaelis

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.
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.
That year Wilhelm also became seriously ill during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic, though he survived.


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.

The Kiel Mutiny - 1918
Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him.

The Kiel mutiny was a major revolt by sailors of the German High Seas Fleet on 3 November 1918. The revolt triggered the German revolution which was to sweep aside the monarchy within a few days. It ultimately led to the end of the German Empire and to the establishment of the Weimar Republic.
On 7 November, the revolution had spread as far south as München, causing Ludwig III of Bavaria to flee.

After the outbreak of the German Revolution, Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate.
Up to that point, he was confident that even if he were obliged to vacate the German throne, he would still retain the Prussian kingship.

Maximillian Prinz von Baden
The unreality of this belief was revealed when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the face of growing revolutionary unrest, Wilhelm's abdication both as German Emperor and King of Prussia was abruptly announced by the Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, on 9 November 1918.
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.
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, thus ending the Hohenzollern dynasty's five-century rule.
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; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this" - a prophecy fulfilled almost to the month.
On November 10, Wilhelm Hohenzollern crossed the border by train, as a private citizen, and went into exile in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the war.
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 Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies.
King-Emperor 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 Wilson rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the peace.

Wilhelm after his Abdication
The erstwhile Emperor first settled in Amerongen, where on 28 November he issued a formal statement of abdication.

He subsequently purchased a country house in the municipality of Doorn on 16 August 1919 and moved in on 15 May 1920.
This was to be his home for the remainder of his life.
From this residence, 'Huis Doorn', Wilhelm absolved his officers and servants of their oath of loyalty to him; however, he himself never formally relinquished his titles, and hoped to return to Germany in the future.
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.


Huis Doorn
On 2 December 1919, Wilhelm wrote to Field Marshal August von Mackensen, denouncing his 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!"
He 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."

Residence of Empress Elisabeth - Corfu
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 during his vacations on 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.

Wilhelm's Library - Huis Doorn
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 NSDAP would stimulate interest in a restoration of the monarchy, with his eldest grandson as the fourth Kaiser.
His second wife, Hermine, actively petitioned the government of the Third Reich on her husband's behalf, but the petitions were ignored.
Though he hosted Hermann Göring at Doorn on at least one occasion, Wilhelm grew to mistrust Hitler.
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. The Emperor has therefore charged me with making a communication."
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 on the fall of Paris stating "Congratulations, you have won using my troops."

'Uncle Edward VII' 
In a letter to his daughter Victoria Louise, the Duchess of Brunswick, he wrote triumphantly, "Thus is the pernicious Entente Cordiale of Uncle Edward VII brought to nought."
Nevertheless, after the conquest of the Netherlands in 1940, the aging Wilhelm retired completely from public life.
In May 1940, when Hitler invaded the Netherlands, Wilhelm declined an offer from Churchill for asylum (?) in the UK, preferring to die at Huis Doorn.
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."
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 to his sister Princess Margaret in 1940, Wilhelm wrote: "The hand of God is creating a new world & working miracles... 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."
Also in 1940 came what would have been his mother's 100th birthday, of which he ironically wrote to a friend "Today the 100th birthday of my mother! 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.


Wilhelm II died of a pulmonary embolus in Doorn, Netherlands on 3 June 1941 aged 82, just weeks before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
German soldiers had been guarding his estate.

Grabmal von Kaiser Wilhelm II - Doorn
Funeral of Kaiser Wilhelm II - Doorn
Despite his personal animosity toward Wilhelm, Hitler wanted to bring Wilhelm's body back to Berlin for a state funeral, as Wilhelm was a symbol of Germany and Germans during World War I.
Begräbnis von Kaiser Wilhelm II - Doorn

Hitler felt this would demonstrate to Germans the direct succession of the Third Reich from the old Kaiserreich, however, Wilhelm's wishes of never returning to Germany until the restoration of the monarchy were respected, and the German occupation authorities granted a small military funeral with a few hundred people present, the mourners including August von Mackensen, along with a few other military advisers.
He was buried in a small mausoleum in the grounds of 'Huis Doorn', which has since become a place of pilgrimage for German monarchists.

Three trends have characterized the writing about Wilhelm.
First, the writers who considered him a martyr and a hero.
Second, those who judged Wilhelm as completely unable to handle the great responsibilities of his office.
Third, after 1950, scholars sought to transcend the passions of the 1910s and attempted objective portrayal of Wilhelm II 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 coronation. 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 man of considerable influence.
Partly that was a deception by German officials.
For example, President Theodore Roosevelt believed the Kaiser was in control of German foreign policy because Hermann Speck von Sternburg, the German ambassador in Washington and personal friend of Roosevelt, presented messages of Chancellor von Bülow to the president as messages from the Kaiser.
Then historians downplayed his role, arguing senior officials learned to work around him.
More recently historian John C. G. Röhl has portrayed Wilhelm II as the key figure in understanding the downfall of Imperial Germany.
Thus the argument is made that the Kaiser played a major role in promoting the policies of naval and colonial expansion that caused the sharp deterioration in Germany's relations with Britain before 1914.


Seine Kaiserliche und Königliche Majestät Wilhelm der Zweite, von Gottes Gnaden Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen, Markgraf von Brandenburg, Burggraf von Nürnberg, der Hohenzollern, Herzog von Schlesien und der Grafschaft Glatz Graf, Großherzog vom Niederrhein und Posen, Herzog in Sachsen, der Angria, Westfalen, Pommern und Lunenburg, Herzog von Schleswig, Holstein und Crossen, Herzog von Magdeburg, Bremen, der Geldern und Jülich, Cleve und Berg, Herzog von der Wenden und Kaschuben, von Lauenburg und Mecklenburg, Landgraf von Hessen und Thüringen, Markgraf von Ober-und Niederlausitz, Prinz von Oranien, auf Rügen, Ost-Friesland, Paderborn und Pyrmont, Prinz von Halberstadt, Münster, der Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, Verden, der Kammin, Fulda, Nassau und Moers, Fürstlicher Grafen von Henneberg, der Mark Graf von Ravensberg, Hohenstein, Tecklenburg und Lingen, Graf von Mansfeld, der Sigmaringen und Veringen, Herr von Frankfurt.

to be continued....