Kaiser Wilhelm II -||- Wilhelm's Chancellors -||- Admiral von Tirpitz and the Naval Race -||- Alliance with Austria-Hungary -||- Relations with Europe -||- Internal Discontent and new Social Orders -||- Industry and Economy -||- The Schlieffin Plan -||- World War I
~~~~~-To Wilhelm II's Germany-~~~~~
The Kaiser inherited the throne young, when Prussia lost two Kaiser’s in a period of a few weeks. The first died of old age, and the second died of a sickness. Immediately, the ambitious Kaiser had plans for a greater Germany where he would rule like a Tsar- as a divine monarch.
There was one problem with that wish.
Germany and the rest of Europe (besides Russia) believed that they were
‘modernized’ and that the days of divine rule were over.
Many of the other countries had adopted a parliamentary system to
represent the people. Though it is
true that these parliaments were usually never so powerful as the monarchy,
their existence alone was groundbreaking.
The Kaiser actually began as a favored grandson of Queen Victoria, having
received a numerous number of British titles, including an honorable Admiralty
over one of the British Battleships. As
for the Kaiser, he admired the strength of the British and their dominance over
the world. At the same time, he
envied it, and set his ambitions for Germany.
Wilhelm II fired Chancellor Bismarck and replaced him with Caprivi.
There would however, be a total of four Chancellors who would serve the
Kaiser, those that did not bring him what he wanted had their power removed.
Others that he liked retired. Of
course, serving the Kaiser was no easy task.
It is never easy to serve a ruler that would order you to dance in a pink
tutu on whim.
Wilhelm greatly admired the Navy, despite having suffered from
sea-sickness. He was inspired by
the American Naval Admiral Mahan, as well as the German Admiral von Tirpitz to
create the best navy in the world for Imperialist colonization.
This ‘Naval Cold War’ would bring the worst relations with Britain.
The Kaiser’s lack of diplomacy was also a great source of trouble.
He would often refer to the King of Italy as a ‘Dwarf’ and the Queen
a ‘peasant girl’ and ‘daughter of a cattle thief’.
He also insulted Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria, calling him the ‘most
unscrupulous ruler in Europe’ and ‘festooned with decorations like a
Christmas tree’. This would later
make Holstein say that ‘the chief danger
of Wilhelm II is that he remains absolutely unconscious of the effect which his
speeches and actions have upon Princes, public men and the masses’.
It seemed however, that the Kaiser did not care.
Wilhelm II was a weak man trying to be strong.
He was born with physical defects and a cold upbringing, making him
believe that he was less than what he was supposed to be.
At the same time, he was raised in Prussia, leader of German Culture. The culture would only accept strong men as rulers, so at
times Wilhelm overdid his role.
There were times however, that because of these faults, Wilhelm II was
not the true ruler of Germany (making other exasperated politicians ask “Who
rules in Berlin?”) He is also not the only cause of World War One, and
should not have been the only one to be made Germany’s scapegoat in the end.
There were many things that led to German involvement in World War One.
Here's a cartoon by the famous 'Punch' Political Cartoonists on the Kaiser and his ambition to be known and always 'in the lime-light',