Thursday, April 29, 2010

Monarch Profile: Kaiser Wilhelm II

One of the monarchs who still stirs extreme emotions from the last century today is the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, better known to the English-speaking world as “Kaiser Bill”. A somewhat mysterious man who often seemed contradictory much of his inconsistent behavior has been attributed to his family background to the extent that he could at times be seen as a stereotypical Englishman and a stereotypical Prussian. Born on January 27, 1859 he was the eldest child of Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich III and the British Princess Royal Victoria. His traumatic birth left him with a stunted and all but useless left arm, deaf in his left ear and unbalanced because of that. His parents were rather unimpressed with him from the start and would remain so and in his early years methods were employed in an effort to correct his disabilities that were almost torturous. However, from an early age his upbringing was supervised by Prince Bismarck and his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I who distrusted the liberal tendencies of his parents.

As a result Wilhelm II grew up with a very reactionary mindset. He believed in nationalism, military dominance and the Divine Right of Kings. To compensate for his disability he went out of his way to act the part of the Prussian warrior king and to sound as bombastic as possible. However, he was also always in awe of his British grandmother Queen Victoria and looked upon the massive British Empire with a mixture of admiration and envy. He wanted Germany to have colonies too and he wanted Germany to have a powerful navy too. Upon coming to the throne in 1888 he said he wanted to put no one in the shade but demanded for Germany her own “place in the sun”. The British took this as a challenge to their global dominance and likewise felt threatened by the increasing economic strength of Germany. As a result, the Kaiser shifted back and forth from adoring to despising Great Britain.

When the Kaiser dismissed Bismarck as Chancellor there followed a succession of statesmen who were largely dominated by Wilhelm II. He tried to walk a line between being a traditional autocrat and a modern people’s prince. Largely popular in Germany, his comments on foreign affairs often led to controversy. When he voiced support for the British in the Boer War the German public was angered and when he congratulated Paul Kruger on a Boer victory the British people were angered. A visit to Morocco during calls for independence angered France though the Kaiser had not thought the trip a good idea. In later years his enemies could point to a number of comments to portray the Kaiser as an aggressive militarist. Probably most famous was his comments to German troops leaving for the international expedition against the Boxer rebels in China in which he advised them to bear themselves as the Huns of Attila. Yet, he never fought an actual war during his reign until 1914 and even then was very hesitant about taking action. He liked seeing his army parade, dressing up in uniform and going out on maneuvers but the last thing he wanted was to risk his army in actual combat. He was even more protective of his navy.

When the Great War did come the Kaiser was slowly sidelined. He blamed the conflict on a conspiracy against him started by King Edward VII with the alliance with France and, given his tendency to view things in personal terms, considered it a betrayal on the part of his cousins George V of Great Britain and Nicholas II of Russia. During the war he was reduced to settling disputes between generals and finally to almost purely figurehead status as the team of Hindenburg and Ludendorff came to dominate and could have their way on almost anything by threatening to resign. His advice and warnings were often ignored and when the Allies made it clear that the presence of the Kaiser was a block to ending the war he was forced to abdicate and go into exile in the Netherlands. It was a decision the Kaiser wrestled with and he always held a little anger on Hindenburg for failing to try to use the army to maintain his throne.

Exiled in Holland, Wilhelm II lived the life of a country gentleman and though he thought a restoration highly unlikely he never completely lost hope in an eventual return. Always a very religious man this only increased during his exile. The Nazis flirted with him, and the Kaiser extended some courtesies but he quickly realized they were no friends of his and he came to despise them. When World War II broke out he turned down an offer of rescue from the British and, it must be said, he took some joy in seeing France defeated and German troops marching triumphantly through Paris. The Kaiser died on June 4, 1941 and in his will forbid the display of any swastikas at his funeral and also refused to be buried in Germany so long as it was not a monarchy. This prevented Hitler from making a spectacle of his passing and despite a ban from the Nazi leader many high-ranking German officers and officials attended. His remains rest to this day at House Doorn in the Netherlands.

10 comments:

  1. It should be remarked that it was the Kaiser's government that let Lenin pass to Russia, thus spreading Communism in that country and, eventually, in the world. This action caused great damage to a Christian nation and to the world.

    Jorge

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  2. That is true, but then it should also be said that this was done by the time the Kaiser had virtually lost control of his government, that the Kaiser himself had grave misgivings about it and predicted (correctly) that Germany would live to regret that decision.

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  3. Indeed in the long run the German nation did live to regret the decision... But it wasn't a legitimate German nation that was to suffer by this wholly avoidable situation.. Nazi gangsters had no right to the divine power of the German machine (indeed neither did the pathetic Wiemar republican government)and sewed their own destruction regardless of the Imperial governments decision to let Lenin pass or not. The point is at the time it was a perfectly wise and acceptable military decision that led to the completion of the war in the east for His Imperial Majesty's Army and thus the freeing up of divisions for the completion of the war in the west. Unfortunately though close the decision was... it didn't work out in this way. And we all know how it went from there.

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  4. His Majesty's birthday is next month, Jan. 27, 2011. We will don Our Prussian Cavalry dress ubiform and attend dinner with some friends at a local German eatery. The bier will flow...

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  5. While I prefer a Democratic Government Im still admired him when he choose to solving a strike problem trough dialogue instead of represion. He even sided with the people when Bismark trying to crushes them. Regardless of political beliefs, that's a true leader are should be.

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  6. The Reichstag was elected, and it may surprise some to know that Wilhelmine Germany had universal manhood suffrage and national healthcare before more "liberal" countries like Great Britain did. They also fought fewer wars than Britain or France.

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  7. A great and inspirational man to Monarchists everywhere. He was True German, perhaps the last True German.

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    1. I agree, in school years ago I gave a presentation on WW1. I brought in an Iron Cross my great grandfather recieved from him from the war. So I've been told is how he got it anyway.

      My teacher asked me why I care so much about it. I replied, although I was born and raised in the US, he is the sovereign of my family's homeland. And I will never abandone him.

      Years later I display a German Empire flag proudly and sing Heil dir im Seiger Kranz on his birthday.

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    2. Those of us who were raised in English-speaking countries but can only truly feel German at heart should form some sort of club. I know for a fact that there's a ton of us out there - and that's just from my experiences of Australia alone.

      Perhaps someday the Fatherland will be in crisis, and we can go home.

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  8. I love this man! Asides from his signature mustache, there is a lot about him to be respected. He is probably one of the most maligned monarchs out there because all blame shifted unto Germany after the war and nobody in his distant family really liked him... which is sad. Even now it seems nobody really likes him. He even offered safe passage for his cousin Nicholas II and his family to be rescued by a British ship, but of course that George V did not carry out the rescue plan, leaving his cousin to die. He was right about nearly everything, but like Cassandra from Greek mythology, was rather ignored because of his personality and such... actually I think it goes deeper than that.

    Germany in itself had a lot of history, and France was still seeking revenge for what happened in 1871, although they happily kicked away Napoleon III and declared themselves that monstrous Third Republic. Britain of course was the natural ally of France, and Russian alliance with France occurred sometime in 189x, which all seems to be a plot to get rid of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

    He spoke about the Freemasonic conspiracy and how the Jews (Kabbalist Jews) were involved in the destruction of Europe and was the true supporter of monarchy even unto his death, declaring he will not be buried in Germany until it is once again a monarchy. I actually wonder about Britain though; why was it one of the few monarchies left alone when others fell? I believe the heart of all this evil resides in London, and they have infiltrated the government with this democracy and such. Edward VII seems to be a prime suspect, and the Kaiser did not have a good relationship with 'Uncle Edward' either, and called him the mastermind of the war. I think the Kaiser knew something much more sinister than we could ever imagine... which at first sounded like ravings of a madman (I somewhat thought that at first), but it starts making sense now that I think about it. He even blamed his mother for inviting British doctors to look over his father's throat cancer instead of German doctors... I'm starting to wonder...

    R.I.P. Kaiser Wilhelm II; there never was a man like him. With him out of the scene along with Nicholas II and a few others, Christian Europe that once was has died and been replaced with the atrocious Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and other monstrous powers... I dread to think where this is all headed.

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