Ancient history

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany

Name:Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Hohenzollern

Born:January 27, 1859 Potsdam, Germany

Died:June 5, 1941 (aged 82)Doorn, Netherlands


Occupation:German Emperor (1888-1918)Last King of Prussia (1888-1918)


Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Hohenzollern) born January 27, 1859 and died June 5, 1941, was the last German Emperor (and not Emperor of Germany) and last King of Prussia from 1888 to 1918.

Grandson of the King of Prussia and then German Emperor William I, he was born in Potsdam du Kronprinz, the future German Emperor Frederick III and his wife Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom. She was the aunt of Tsarina Alexandra (wife of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia) and the sister of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. He was therefore the grandson of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. However, he was never favorable to the British and favored and claimed his Prussian ancestry. His British ancestry partly explains his desire to challenge the maritime supremacy of the United Kingdom. He got along badly with his father as well as with his mother.

Bearer of a paralysis of the brachial plexus, his left arm was a little atrophied, infirmity from birth, due to an error of the doctor-accoucheur, which he always tried to conceal and in particular which prevented him from riding alone on horseback. Some historians believe that he could also have suffered a head trauma, which could explain some of his character traits (cyclothymia, aggressiveness, stubbornness, impulsiveness and lack of tact).

He studied at the Gymnasium in Kassel and at the University of Bonn. He married in 1881 Princess Augusta Viktoria von Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (born October 22, 1858, died April 11, 1921) and they had seven children:

* Guillaume de Prussia (1882-1951) Kronprinz who married in 1905 Cécile de Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954),

* Eitel-Frédéric de Prussia (1883-1942) who married in 1906 Sophie-Charlotte d'Oldenburg (1879-1964) divorced in 1926,

* Adalbert of Prussia (1884-1948) who married in 1914 Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (1891-1971),

* Auguste-Guillaume de Prussia (1887-1949) who married in 1908 Alexandra de Holstein-Sonderbourg-Glücksbourg (1887-1957) divorced in 1920 called "Auwi",

* Oscar of Prussia (1888-1958) who married Ina von Bassewitz (1888-1973) in 1914,

* Joachim of Prussia (1890-1920) who married in 1920 Augusta of Anhalt (1898-1983),

* Victoria-Louise of Prussia (1892-1980) who married in 1913 Ernest-Auguste duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1887-1953) (Ernest-Auguste III of Hanover).

He became emperor in June 1888 (“the year of the three emperors”) after the very short reign of his father Frederick III of Germany.

His reign was marked by an exacerbated militarism. In 1890, he dismissed Chancellor Bismarck and did not renew the German-Russian mutual assistance pact. Its aggressive foreign policy (maritime armament according to the Tirpitz Plan, desire for German expansion) brought it into confrontation with the United Kingdom in particular and isolated it diplomatically. Relations with France were marked by the latter's desire for revenge and competition in foreign and colonial matters.

To prevent another Prime Minister from assuming as much importance as Bismarck, he changed it several times:after Bismarck succeeded Leo von Caprivi, in 1894 Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, in 1900 Prince Bernhard von Bülow and in 1909 Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, but none was a politician of Bismarck's stature.

Despite his behavior, it is difficult to say that he caused - at least on his own - the First World War, even if he did little to prevent it. Fischer's (1961) thesis suggests a larger political calculation.

During the war he was commander-in-chief of the armies, but soon lost real authority and his popularity was diminished. After his abdication and the foundation of the republic, he took refuge in Doorn in the Netherlands (protected by the Queen, William II will not be delivered to be tried in accordance with the wishes of the allies). It should be noted that he was an early anti-Nazi and that he strongly condemned anti-Jewish laws and that he did not approve of the invasion of Poland which started World War II (nor the invasion of other countries European countries including the Netherlands, its host), but during the French defeat in June 1940, he sent a telegram to Adolf Hitler to congratulate him. Some of his sons were mobilized under Hitler and two of them were Nazis.

His second wife, Princess Hermine von Schoenaich, was taken prisoner by the Soviets. She died of starvation in 1947.

In 1911, he founded the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut zur Förderung der Wissenschaft, which after the Second World War became the prestigious Max Planck Society.


* William II collected uniforms and liked to be disguised, for example as a naval admiral when he visited an aquarium. He had over 200 of them, which were regularly maintained by his 12 valets.

* He loved horses. He also had a saddle in his office.

* He practiced deer hunting in the forests of Prussia in the company of Junker.

* He restored the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg in Alsace, in ruins since the 17th century.

* He built the "imperial quarter" of Metz, the new temple and endowed the cathedral with a neo-Gothic portal more in keeping with the style of the building on which he figures the prophet Daniel.

* The shape of his mustache has been reproduced by many Germans, creating a fashion phenomenon.

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