Wilhelm II, King of Prussia and German Kaiser, born 27-01-1859 in the nobel Hohenzollern House in Berlin, the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria, The son of of Crown Prince Friedrich III of Prussia (1831–1888) and Princess Victoria Adelaide Mary Sax-Coburg, daughter of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria. (1840–1901). Wilhelm symbolized his era and the nouveaux riche aspects of the German empire. The Kaiser suffered from a birth defect that left his left arm withered and useless. He overcame this handicap, but the effort to do so left its mark, and despite efforts of his parents to give him a liberal education, the prince became imbued with religious mysticism, militarism, anti-Semitism, the glorification of power politics. His English family always spoke of “Willy’s withered arm”. Some have claimed that his personality displayed elements of a narcissistic personality disorder. Bombastic, vain, insensitive, and possessed with grandiose notions of divine right rule, his personality traits paralleled those of the new Germany: strong, but off balance; vain, but insecure; intelligent, but narrow; self-centred yet longing for acceptance. Wilhelm, who was brought up in this Prussian conservative and military tradition, was also a militarist pur sang and therefore had a great preference for external military displays such as conducting the frequently held military parades at all kinds of official events and the distribution and collection of medals, banners. and other military decorations. He especially had a lifelong passion for uniforms and was thus always dressed in uniform. Wilhelm also wore a mustache with extravagantly curled up tips (this was also a rewarding object for cartoons of the emperor).
He had several permanent tailors and a special uniform for every conceivable occasion. He often changed up to six times a day. He is said to have even put on his admiral’s uniform when he went to the opera Der Fliegende Holländer/The Flying Dutch. The story that he also donned this when he went to the aquarium at the Berliner Zoo is probably only a legend. Wilhelm himself enjoyed designing his own fantasy uniforms, which he wore on some informal occasions. He also actively pursued honorary colonies in foreign regiments in order to acquire the corresponding English, Austrian, Spanish, Russian and other uniforms. Another hobby of Wilhelm’s hobby was drive hunting, in particular releasing tipsy wild boars from their suffering with a special spear, the Saufeder. He enjoyed the applause that followed, although one of his courtiers once called these activities a “disgusting and depraved spectacle.” He was also fond of sailing, was a creditable amateur painter and had a nice baritone Under the guise of training him for his future royal duties, Otto von Bismarck
sought to move Wilhelm into a conservative foil against his father’s so-called liberalism. The scheme succeeded all too well but backfired when Friedrich died within four months of becoming emperor and Wilhelm proved uncontrollable. Soon after coming to the throne in 1888, Wilhelm distanced himself from his mother and dismissed Bismarck. Setting his own course, albeit a rather directionless one, he abandoned the Iron Chancellor’s policy of keeping Russia and Austria-Hungary separated by allying with both. He allowed Germany’s ties to Russia to lapse, a vacuum that France quickly filled. Bound now to the fate of Austria-Hungary, the real “sick man” of Europe, Wilhelm sought to break what he called Germany’s encirclement. His efforts alternately amused or scared Europe. His penchant for uniforms and vainglorious pronouncements might have merely provoked derision and laughter had he headed some inconsequential nation, but Germany’s army and economy dominated the Continent, and wish as they might, Europe’s statesmen could not ignore him. His inferiority complex and a love-hate relationship with England and his uncle (Edward VII) made him easy prey for the blandishments of Admiral Tirpitz and the Navy League. When Germany, the sole European nation with the industrial capability to rival England’s naval dominance, began to construct a large, modern fleet, England’s reaction was predictable. England viewed the German fleet as a mortal threat to her vital interests and she patched up her colonial differences with first France, then Russia, initiating military discussions with the French in 1906. Historians still debate Germany’s and Wilhelm’s complicity in bringing about the war. A stronger indictment emerges from Wilhelm’s hesitancy to halt the apparatus of war as it lurched towards the brink, propelled by mobilization plans and timetables. Wilhelm’s last-minute anguish to General Helmuth von Moltke
over the inflexibility of the Alfred von Schlieffen
Plan belied the fact that the Kaiser had known (and approved) the plan’s contents for years. The outbreak of war did occasion one of Wilhelm’s best speeches, his “Burgfrieden” (Peace of the Castle) speech in which he rallied all Germans to sublimate internal politics to the prosecution of the war. In that effort he proved a failure. As the war progressed, the professionals increasingly took charge, and Wilhelm retreated to the background. His zeal and spirit seemed to wane with Germany’s military progress and, browbeaten into a number of disastrous cabinet appointments by Erich Ludendorff, his popularity plummeted. The final blow came when his ministers and the public understood Wilson’s October armistice note to mean that the Kaiser’s very presence prevented peace. At the end, his Generals told him his troops would march home to restore order, but not in his name. It was best, they said, that he abdicate, but while he temporized, the Majority Socialists declared a republic on the morning of 09-11-1918. After 300 years, the Hohenzollern dynasty was finished. The Kaiser fled to The Netherlands on 10-11-1918, where his niece Queen Wilhelmina in 1920 allowed him to buy the estate in Doorn. Therefor he lived with Graf Bentinck in his castle Amerongen. He purchased an estate at Doorn where he maintained a tiny household. The emperor was soon struck by a personal tragedy. Wilhelm had seven children, six Boys and one daughter, Wilhelm van Pruisen , born 06-05-1882, Eitel Frederik van Pruisen , born 07-07-1883, Adalbert van Pruisen , born 14-07-1884, August Wilhelm van Pruisen , born 29-01-1887, Oscar van Pruisen, born 27-07-1888 , Joachim van Pruisen, 17-12-1890 and daughter Victoria Louise van Pruisen, born 13-09-1892 , On July 18-07-1921 his youngest son Prince Joachim Franz, age 30 , disillusioned by the war and his aftermath, killed himself in a hunting lodge in Potsdam. He was the Empress’s favorite son. It was said that after his father’s abdication and failed marriage, he could not accept his fate. Joachim’s death deeply affected his parents. Empress Augusta never recovered from the death of her favorite son; her health deteriorated and she died on 11-04-1921. Following the death of his mother Augusta Victoria the Kaiserine in 1921 a few months later, his father Wilhelm II married a young widow, 28 years younger, Princess v. Schoenaich, Hermine of Reuss. She had five children and the youngest Henriette, came and lived with her mother and stepfather in Doorn. When Wilhelm married Hermine he was no longer an emperor. Yet the entire courteous staff in Huis Doorn had to call Hermine “Empress,” something she never really was.
The same year he published his memoirs, absolving himself of any war guilt. Over the next two decades, he received visitors and kept abreast of events in Europe. In exile, one of Wilhelm’s greatest passions was hunting, and he bagged thousands of animals, both beast and bird. Much of his time was spent chopping wood and thousands of trees were chopped down during his stay at Doorn After a brief interest in the Nazis, spurred by Hitler’s (see Adolf Hitler) manipulation of the restoration issue, the imperial couple turned against the brown shirts.
For a time Wilhelm II seems to have believed seriously that a Nazi victory by Hitler’s NSDAP in the elections would bring him back to the throne. His wife Hermine a fanatic Hitler fan in any case regarded Hitler as Germany’s savior and trusted him completely, and several members of his retinue were equally enthusiastic about the Nazis. From 17 to 19 January 1931, Hermann Goering, then a representative for the NSDAP in the Reichtstag and Hitler’s representative in Berlin, paid a special visit to Doorn
with his 1st wife Carin. born Fock. During this three-day visit, Herman Goering did not make any promises about Wilhelmina’s return to the throne. Here his son crown prince Wilhelm at a SA meeting, with SA leader Ernst Julius Röhm, in 1932 The Nazis kept the Hohenzollerns very hand in line and suggested that they would restore the monarchy if they came to power. In reality, they had no intention of doing that and the purpose behind their deception was only to get followers of the monarchy into their camp.
Death and burial ground of Wilhelm II.
After a long life, Wilhelm’s end came unexpectedly: on 01-3-1941, he became unwell while sawing wood, followed by a general faintness. At first he recovered remarkably quickly and the hastily gathered children left for home in May 1941, except for daughter Victoria Louise. However, at the end of the afternoon of 03-06-1941, Wilhelm suddenly developed severe pain and breathing problems. His condition deteriorated rapidly and in the evening he lost consciousness. Without regaining consciousness, Wilhelm died in the presence of, among others, daughter Victoria Louise, Princess Hermine and his aide Sigurd von Ilsemann on 04-06-1941 in Doorn, which turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. He was 82 years old.
His funeral ceremony was attended by his immediate family but also by representatives of the German occupier in the Netherlands; various generals of the Wehrmacht and former generals of the former imperial army, including General Anton Mackensen, who was then 91 years old. Wilhelmina’s wish not to display swastikas at his funeral was not granted. Hitler had a huge wreath delivered: the mourning ribbons on it were indeed decorated with this Nazi symbol. Among the few hundred attendees was also a Dutch photographer who, despite the strict security – the occupier was on guard at the gates – managed to make a photo reportage. Also visitors were Reichscommissar, Arthur Seyss Inquart, Admiral, Wilhelm Canaris
and General der Flieger, Wehrmacht in the Netherland, he ordered the masacre of Putten, Friedrich Christiansen. Wilhelm was buried in a Chapel on the grounds of his estate.
After the end of the war Henriette his wife was transferred by the Red Army to Frankfurt (Oder) where she died as an internee on 07-08-1947. Against her wishes, Hermine was interred in the so-called ‘antique temple’, the family grave of Wilhelm, in the park of Sanssouci Castle in Potsdam and not on the side of the deceased ex-emperor in Doorn.