Wilhelm II, German Emperor

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Kaiser Wilhelm II in the uniform of the Imperial German Army

Wilhelm II, or more correctly Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert von Preußen (English: Frederick William Victor Albert of Prussia; 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941), of the Royal House of Hohenzollern was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling both the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from June 15, 1888 to November 9, 1918. Despite the Emperor of Austria also being a Kaiser, Wilhelm was popularly known, world-wide, as "The Kaiser".

Kaiser Wilhelm II..jpg

Titles and styles

Wilhelm with his father at Balmoral Castle in 1863
Queen Victoria with grandson Willy
  • 27 January 1859 – 9 March 1888: His Royal Highness Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
  • 9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888: His Imperial and Royal Highness The German Crown Prince, Crown Prince of Prussia
  • 15 June 1888 – 9 November 1918: His Imperial and Royal Majesty The German Emperor, King of Prussia

Full title as German Emperor

His Imperial and Royal Majesty Wilhelm the Second, by the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke of Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesse and in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt.[1]


Family background

The Second Empire

Wilhelm was born in Berlin to Frederick III, German Emperor while he was Crown Prince of Prussia and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal, thus making him the first grandchild of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. As the 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. As with most Victorian era royalty, he was related to many of Europe's royal families. He was the first cousin of George V and Maud of Wales.

A traumatic breech birth left him with a partially withered left arm due to Erb's palsy, which he tried with some success to conceal. In many photos he has arm on the hilt of a sword or holding a cane to give the effect of a good limb being posed at a dignified angle. However, he had some use from the arm which can been seen in motion pictures of his time and in sailing photos.

Early years

Wilhelm, beginning at the age of 6, was tutored by the 39-year old teacher Georg Hinzpeter. He stated later that his instructor never uttered a word of praise for his efforts.[2] 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. Wilhelm was possessed of a quick intelligence. He took an interest in the science and technology of the age, but although he liked to pose in conversation as a man of the world, he remained convinced that he belonged to a distinct order of mankind, designated for monarchy by the grace of God. Wilhelm was accused of megalomania as early as 1892, by the Portuguese man of letters Eça de Queiroz, a liberal, then in 1894 by the German bourgeois pacifist Ludwig Quidde,an anti-monarchist and critic of Bismarck also.

As a scion of the Royal House of Hohenzollern, Wilhelm was also exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy. This had a major impact on him and, in maturity, Wilhelm was seldom to be seen out of uniform (although this was generally the case with all European monarchs of his time). It is said that the military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame Wilhelm's political ideals as well as his personal relationships.

Wilhelm's relationship with the male members of his family was as interesting as that with his mother. 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 also idolised his grandfather, Wilhelm I, and he was instrumental in later attempts to foster a cult of the first modern German Emperor as "Wilhelm the Great".

In many ways, Wilhelm was a victim of his inheritance and of Otto von Bismarck's machinations. The Emperor's parents, Frederick and Victoria, were great admirers of the Albert, Prince Consort of Great Britain, Victoria's father. They planned to rule as consorts, like Albert and Queen Victoria, and they planned to reform the fatal flaws in the executive branch that Bismarck had created for himself. The office of Chancellor responsible to the Emperor would be replaced with a British-style cabinet, with ministers responsible to the Reichstag. Government policy would be based on the consensus of the cabinet. Frederick "described the Imperial Constitution as ingeniously contrived chaos."[3]

"The Crown Prince and Princess shared the outlook of the Progressive Party, and Bismarck was haunted by the fear that should the old Emperor die--and he was now in his seventies--they would call on one of the Progressive leaders to become Chancellor. He sought to guard against such a turn by keeping the Crown Prince from a position of any influence and by using foul means as well as fair to make him unpopular."[4]

When Wilhelm was in his early twenties, Bismarck tried to separate him from his liberal parents with some success. It was said that 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. In an outburst in April 1889, which the Empress Victoria conveyed in a letter to her mother, Queen Victoria, Wilhelm angrily inferred that "an English doctor killed my father, and an English doctor crippled my arm – which is the fault of my mother" who allowed no German physicians to attend to herself or her immediate family.[5]

Next to the throne

Kaiser Wilhelm II ascends to the throne in Berlin, 15 June 1888

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 Esophageal cancer (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. The new Emperor opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to project 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 believed that Wilhelm was a lightweight who could be dominated, and he showed scant respect for Wilhelm's ideas 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.

Difficulties with Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck, Imperial German Chancellor (Reichskanzler)
Wilhelm II in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet (Großadmiral) in the British Royal Navy with the Garter riband and star in Osborne in August 1889. His grandmother, Queen Victoria, had given him the honorary rank earlier that year. On 27 January 1901, on Wilhelm's 42nd birthday, the new king Edward VII, his uncle, also bestowed upon him the honorary rank of Field Marshal of the British Army.
Medal commemorating the naval review at Spithead in 1889 by Kaiser Wilhelm II
Kaiser Wilhelm II in Switzerland, September 1912; at his side Swiss President Ludwig Forrer, Generaladjutant Hans von Plessen, Flügeladjutant Maximilian von Mutius and others.

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 this, with one exception: the police powers 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 make the expulsion clause permanent. 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 increasingly 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 though Wilhelm supported the altered anti-Socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety, but when Bismarck's arguments couldn't convince Wilhelm, he became excited and agitated until uncharacteristically he blurted out his motive for having the bill fail: he wanted the Socialists to agitate until a violent clash occurred that could be used as a pretext to crush them. Wilhelm replied that he wasn't willing to open his reign with a bloody campaign against his subjects.

The next day, after realizing 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 distancing 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 against Wilhelm's ever-increasing interference with Bismarck's previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the Continental labor council Wilhelm held in high regard. 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 an alliance. This would be Bismarck's last political manoeuver. 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 certainly has the right to form coalitions to ensure his policies a majority, but in Germany, the Chancellor depended on the confidence of the Emperor alone, and Wilhelm believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his minister's meeting. After a heated argument at Bismarck's estate over Imperial authority, Wilhelm stormed out, both parting ways permanently.

Bismarck resigns

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 only published after Bismarck's death. When Bismarck realized that his dismissal was imminent:

All Bismarck’s resources were deployed; he even asked Empress Frederick to use her influence with 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. As Lord Salisbury told Queen Victoria: 'The very qualities which Bismarck fostered in the Emperor in order to strengthen himself when the Emperor Frederick should come to the throne have been the qualities by which he has been overthrown.' The Empress, with what must have been a mixture of pity and triumph, told him that her influence with her son could not save him for he himself had destroyed it.[6]

Although Bismarck had sponsored landmark social security legislation, by 1889–90 he had become disillusioned with the attitude of the workers. In particular, he was opposed to wage increases, improving working conditions, and regulating labour relations. Moreover the Kartell, the shifting political coalition that Bismarck had been able to forge and control since 1867, had lost a working majority in the Reichstag. Bismarck also attempted to sabotage the Labour Conference that the Kaiser was organizing. In March 1890, Bismarck's resignation coincided with the Kaiser's opening of the Labour Conference in Berlin.[7] [8] 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 laborer. [9] In 1891, the Reichstag passed the Workers Protection Acts, which improved working conditions, protected women and children, and regulated labor relations.

It has been alleged that Bismarck was organizing a military coup that would disband the striking miners, dissolve the Reichstag, repeal the universal suffrage law, introduce limited suffrage, reduce the Kaiser to a puppet, and establish a military dictatorship. The book that accompanied the BBC series Fall of Eagles — which covered the period 1848–1918 and traced the downfall of the Romanov, Hapsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties — contains an interview in which Louis Ferdinand, a grandson of the Kaiser, says:

Had Bismarck stayed he would not have helped. He already wanted to abolish all the reforms that had been introduced. He was aspiring to establish a kind of shogunate and hoped to treat our family in the same way the Japanese shoguns treated the Japanese emperors isolated in Kyoto. My grandfather had no other choice but to effectively dismiss him.[10]

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.

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. 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 as with 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". This was a view — which some would argue was confirmed by subsequent events — that, with his resignation, Wilhelm II effectively destroyed any chance Germany had of stable and effective government. In this view, Wilhelm's "New Course" was characterised far more as the German ship of state going out of control, eventually leading through a series of crises to the carnage of the First and Second World Wars.

Strong Chancellors

Following the dismissal of Hohenlohe in 1900, Wilhelm appointed the man whom he regarded as "his own Bismarck", Prince Bernhard von Bülow. Wilhelm hoped that in Bülow, he had found a man who would combine the ability of the Iron Chancellor with the respect for Wilhelm's wishes which would allow the empire to be governed as he saw fit.

Wilhelm's involvement in the domestic sphere was more limited in the early twentieth century than it had been in the first years of his reign. In part, this was due to the appointment of Bülow and Bethmann — arguably both men of greater force of character than Wilhelm's earlier chancellors — but also because of his increasing interest in foreign affairs.

Foreign affairs

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. It was argued that he was personally ill-equipped to steer German foreign policy along a rational course. It is now widely recognized that the various controversial acts which Wilhelm undertook in the international sphere were often partially encouraged by the German Foreign Office elites. 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 notorious Jameson Raid, thus alienating British public opinion. After the murder of the German Ambassador during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, a regiment of German troops was sent to Imperial China. In a speech of 27 July 1900, the Emperor exhorted these troops:

"Should you encounter the enemy, he will be defeated! No quarter will be given! Prisoners will not be taken! Whoever falls into your hands is forfeited. Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their leader Attila the Hun made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German."[11]

Its full impact was not felt until many years later, when the Triple Entente and American propagandists took advantage of this careless public speech. It has been said Wilhelm was vulnerable to manipulation by interests within the German Foreign Office elites, as subsequent events were to prove. Wilhelm had much disdain for his uncle, King Edward VII of Great Britain, who was a popular sovereign in Europe (despite his short reign).

One of the few times Wilhelm succeeded in personal "diplomacy" was when with he supported Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in marrying Sophie Chotek in 1900 against the wishes of Emperor Franz Joseph. Deeply in love, Franz Ferdinand refused to consider marrying anyone else. Pope Leo XIII, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Wilhelm all made representations on Franz Ferdinand's behalf to the Emperor Franz Joseph, arguing that the disagreement between Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand was undermining the stability of the monarchy.

One "domestic" triumph for Wilhelm was when his daughter Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia married Ernest Augustus, 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. In 1914, Wilhelm's son Prince Adalbert of Prussia married a Princess of the Ducal House of Saxe-Meiningen.


Following his dismissal of Bismarck, Wilhelm and his new Chancellor Caprivi became aware of the existence of the secret Reinsurance Treaty with the Russian Empire, which Bismarck had concluded in 1887. Wilhelm's refusal to renew this agreement which guaranteed Russian neutrality in the event of an attack by France was seen by many historians as the worst offense committed by Wilhelm in terms of foreign policy. In reality, the decision to allow the lapse of the treaty was largely the responsibility of Caprivi, though Wilhelm supported his Chancellor's actions. It is important not to overestimate the influence of the Emperor in matters of foreign policy after the dismissal of Bismarck, but it is certain that his meddling contributed to the general lack of coherence and consistency in the policy of the German Empire toward other powers.

In December 1897, Wilhelm visited Bismarck for the last time. On many occasions, Bismarck had expressed grave concerns about the dangers of improvising government policy based on the intrigues of courtiers and militarists. Bismarck’s last warning to Wilhelm was:

"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."[12]

Subsequently, just before he died, Bismarck made these dire and accurate predictions:

"The Battle of Jena-Auerstedt (Jena) 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.[13]
"One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans]]."[14]

Ironically, Bismarck had warned in February 1888 of a Balkan crisis turning into a world war (although when that war did come in 1914, the Balkan country was Serbia, not Bulgaria). He warned of the imminent possibility that Germany will have to fight on two fronts; he spoke of the desire for peace; then he set forth the Balkan case for war and demonstrates its futility:

Bulgaria, that little country between the Danube and the Balkans, is far from being an object of adequate importance... for which to plunge Europe from Moscow to the Pyrenees, and from the North Sea to Palermo, into a war whose issue no man can foresee. At the end of the conflict we should scarcely know why we had fought.[15]

A typical example of this was his "love-hate" relationship with Great Britain and in particular with his British cousins. He returned to England in January 1901 to be at the bedside of his grandmother, Queen Victoria, and was holding her in his arms at the moment of her death.[16] Open armed conflict with Britain was never what Wilhelm had in mind — "a most unimaginable thing", as he once said — yet he often gave in to the generally anti-British sentiments within the upper echelons of the German government, conforming as they did to his own prejudices toward Britain which arose from his youth. When war came in 1914, Wilhelm sincerely believed that he was the victim of a diplomatic conspiracy set up by his late uncle, Edward VII, in which Britain had actively sought to "encircle" Germany through the conclusion of the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904, and a similar arrangement with Russia in 1907. This is indicative of the fact that Wilhelm had a highly unrealistic belief in the importance of "personal diplomacy" between European monarchs, and could not comprehend that the very different constitutional position of his British cousins made this largely irrelevant. A reading of the Entente Cordiale shows that it was actually an attempt to put aside the ancient rivalries between France and Great Britain rather than an "encirclement" of Germany.[17]

Similarly, he believed that his personal relationship with his cousin-in-law Nicholas II of Russia (see The Willy-Nicky Correspondence) was sufficient to prevent war between the two powers. At a private meeting during the Treaty of Björkö in 1905, Wilhelm concluded an agreement with his cousin which amounted to a treaty of alliance, without first consulting with Bülow. A similar situation confronted Tsar Nicholas on his return to St.Petersburg, and the treaty was, as a result, a dead letter. But Wilhelm believed that Bülow had betrayed him, and this contributed to the growing sense of dissatisfaction he felt towards the man he hoped would be his foremost servant. In broadly similar terms to the "personal diplomacy" at Björkö, his attempts to avoid war with Russia by an exchange of telegrams with Nicholas II in the last days before the outbreak of the First World War came unstuck due to the reality of European power politics and Pan-Slavism. In a chivalrous fidelity to the Austro-Hungarian - German alliance, Wilhelm informed the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1889 that "the day of Austro-Hungarian mobilisation, for whatever cause, will be the day of German mobilisation too". Wilhelm and Germans generally believed in inferiority of Slavs and he is known to have said in 1913 that "The Slavs were not born to rule but to serve, this they must be taught"[18].

The Moroccan Crisis

In some cases, Wilhelm II's diplomatic "blunders" were often part of a wider-reaching policy emanating from the German governing élites. One such action sparked the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905, when Wilhelm was persuaded (largely against his wishes) to make a spectacular visit to Tangier, in Morocco. Wilhelm's presence was seen as an assertion of German interest there and in a 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.

Daily Telegraph affair

Perhaps Wilhelm's most damaging personal blunder in the arena of foreign policy had a far greater impact in Germany than internationally. The London Daily Telegraph affair of 1908 stemmed from the publication of some of Wilhelm's opinions in edited form in the British daily newspaper of that name. Wilhelm saw it as an opportunity to promote his views and ideas on Anglo-German friendship, but instead, due to his emotional outbursts during the course of the interview, Wilhelm ended up further alienating not only the British people, but also the French, Russians, and Japanese all in one fell swoop by implying, inter alia, that the Germans cared nothing for the British; that the French and Russians had attempted to incite Germany to intervene in the Boer War; and that the German naval build-up was targeted against the Japanese, not Britain. The effect in Germany was quite significant, with serious calls for his abdication being mentioned in the left-wing press. Quite understandably, Wilhelm kept a very low profile for many months after the Daily Telegraph fiasco, and later exacted his revenge by enforcing the resignation of Prince von Bülow, who had abandoned the Emperor to public criticism by publicly accepting some responsibility for not having edited the transcript of the interview before its publication.

The Daily Telegraph crisis deeply wounded Wilhelm's previously unimpaired self-confidence, so much so that he soon suffered a severe bout of depression from which he never really recovered (photographs of Wilhelm in the post-1908 period show a man with far more haggard features and greying hair), and it is said he lost much of the influence he had previously exercised in domestic and foreign policy.

Naval expansion

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. He had inherited, from his 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. 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.

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 battlefleet 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 reorganised top level control of the navy by creating a Navy Cabinet (Marine-Kabinett) 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 navy cabinet 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 Imperial admiralty was abolished and its responsibilities divided between two organisations. A new position (equivalent to the supreme commander of the army) was created, chief of the high command of the admiralty (Oberkommando 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.[19]

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.

World War I

Kaiserin Augusta visiting a military hospital (Lazarett) in WWI
Main article: World War I
See also Causes of World War I


The role of ultimate arbiter of wartime national affairs proved too heavy a burden for Wilhelm. Even the advice of his closest aides such as Generaloberst Moriz von Lyncker was not adequate. As the war progressed, his influence receded and inevitably his lack of ability in military matters led to an ever-increasing reliance upon his generals, so much that after 1916 the Empire had effectively become a military dictatorship under the control of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff.[20]

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. He remained a useful figurehead, and he toured the lines and munitions plants, awarded medals and gave encouraging speeches.

In December 1916, the Germans attempted to negotiate peace with the Allies, declaring themselves the victors. The negotiations were mediated by the United States, but the Allies rejected the offer. A German poster from January 1917 quotes a speech by Kaiser Wilhelm II lambasting the Allies for their decision.

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. Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September 1914 and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn. Similarly, Wilhelm was instrumental in the policy of inactivity adopted by the High Seas Fleet after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Likewise, it was largely owing to his sense of having been pushed into the shadows that Wilhelm attempted to take a leading role in the crisis of 1918. In the end, he realized the necessity of capitulation and insisted that the German nation should not bleed to death for a dying cause.

Upon hearing that his cousin George V had changed the name of the British royal house to Windsor, Wilhelm remarked that he planned to see Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Bolshevik Revolution

Main article: October Revolution

Following the 1917 February Revolution in Russia which saw the overthrow of Great War adversary Emperor Nicholas II, the German military hierarchy arranged for the exiled Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin to return home from Switzerland via Germany, Sweden and Finland in the hope that Lenin would create political unrest back in Russia, which would help to end the war on the Eastern front, allowing Germany to concentrate on defeating the Western allies. The Swiss communist Fritz Platten managed to negotiate with the German military for Lenin and his company to travel through Germany by rail, in the so-called "sealed train".

Lenin arrived in St. Petersburg on 16 April 1917, and seized power seven months later in the October Revolution. Germany's strategy paid off when Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918, withdrawing from the war and ceding Finland its independence. On Lenin's orders, Nicholas II, Wilhelm's first cousin, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (Alix of Hesse), their five children, and their few servants were brutally murdered by a Bolshevik firing squad led by Yakov Yurovsky (acting upon a telegram received from Jacob Sverdlov) in a basement in Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918.

Abdication and flight

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. Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him. 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. The unreality of this belief was revealed when, for the sake of preserving some form of government in the face of anarchy, 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. For telling Wilhelm the truth, Groener would not be forgiven by German arch-conservatives. The abdication instrument was not actually signed until 28 November; by then his six sons had sworn not to succeed him, so ending the dynasty's connection with the crown of Prussia.[21]

The following day, the now-former German Emperor Wilhelm II crossed the border by train 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. The erstwhile Emperor first settled in Amerongen, and then subsequently purchased a small castle in the municipality of Doorn on 16 August 1919 and moved in on 15 May 1920.[22] 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.[23]

October 1918 telegrams

The telegrams that were exchanged between the General Headquarters of the Imperial High Command, Berlin, and President Woodrow Wilson are discussed in Ferdinand Czernin's Versailles, 1919[24].

The following telegram was sent through the Swiss government and arrived in Washington, D.C., on 5 October 1918 [p. 6]:

The German Government requests the President of the United States of America to take steps for the restoration of peace, to notify all belligerents of this request, and to invite them to delegate positions for the purpose of taking up negotiations. The German Government accepts, as a basis of peace negotiations, the Program laid down by the President of the United States in his message to Congress of 8 January 1918, and his subsequent pronouncements, particularly in his address of 27 September 1918.

In order to avoid further bloodshed the German Government requests to bring about the immediate conclusion of an armistice on land, on water, and in the air.

—Max, Prince of Baden, Imperial Chancellor

In the subsequent two exchanges, Wilson's allusions "failed to convey the idea that the Kaiser's abdication was an essential condition for peace. The leading statesmen of the Reich were not yet ready to contemplate such a monstrous possibility." [p. 7]

The third German telegram was sent on 20 October. Wilson's reply on 23 October contained the following:

If the Government of the United States must deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with them later in regard to the international obligations of the German Empire, it must demand not peace negotiations but surrender. Nothing can be gained by leaving this essential thing unsaid.
—[Emil Ludwig, Wilhelm Hohenzollern (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1927), p. 489]

According to Czernin [p. 9]:

... Prince Hohenlohe, serving as councilor in the German Legation in Berne, Switzerland, cabled the German Foreign Office that 'a confidential informant has informed me that the conclusion of the Wilson note of 23 October refers to nothing less than the abdication of the Kaiser as the only way to a peace which is more or less tolerable.

Wilhelm's abdication was necessitated by the popular perceptions that had been created by the Entente propaganda against him, which had been picked and further refined when the U.S. declared war in April 1917.

A much bigger obstacle, which contributed to the five-week delay in the signing of the armistice and to the resulting social deterioration in Europe, was the fact that the Entente Powers had no desire to accept the Fourteen Points and Wilson's subsequent promises. As Czernin points out [p. 23]:

The Allied statesmen were faced with a problem: so far they had considered the 'fourteen commandments' as a piece of clever and effective American propaganda, designed primarily to undermine the fighting spirit of the Central Powers, and to bolster the morale of the lesser Allies. Now, suddenly, the whole peace structure was supposed to be built up on that set of 'vague principles,' most of which seemed to them thoroughly unrealistic, and some of which, if they were to be seriously applied, were simply unacceptable.

The Kaiser himself wrote:

Nevertheless, it must be noted that John Kenneth Turner, in his [. . .] book, Shall it Be Again? gives extensive proof that all Wilson’s reasons for America's entry into the war were fictitious; that it was far more a cause of acting solely in the interest of Wall Street high finance.[25]
The Kaiser, Sigurd von Ilsemann (center) and others having tea at Haus Doorn

Life in exile

Commemorative Badge for the 70th birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm II (Erinnerungszeichen zum 70. Geburtstag Kaiser Wilhelms II.); The decoration was donated on the occasion of the 70th birthday. The celebration took place in the Doorn house in exile in the Netherlands. This badge of honor was given to people from the circle of friends and family, the immediate environment as well as people who were close to the former emperor and were among the well-wishers. The official guests came to congratulate as soon as 24 January 1929. Among the well-wishers were various representatives of ruling and abdicated houses, representatives of the military such as Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen and General of the Infantry Oskar von Hutier. Around 100 pieces are said to have been handed out directly at the main celebration on 27 January 1929. All together, the number of awards of the commemorative badge is given as approx. 290 pieces.
Dutch gendarmerie (Marechausee) lieutenant-colonel[26] Marius Cornelius van Houten (1879–1953), responsible for the Kaiser‘s security[27]
The Kaiser's residence Huis Doorn in the Netherlands is a museum since 1952.

On 2 December 1919, Wilhelm wrote to General 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!"[28]

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. I believe the best would be gas!"[29]

In 1922, Wilhelm published the first volume of his memoirs—a very slim volume which nevertheless revealed the possession of a remarkable memory (Wilhelm had no archive on which to draw). In them, he asserted his claim that 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, the aging Emperor regularly entertained guests (often of some standing) and kept himself updated on events in Europe. On his arrival from Germany at Amerongen Castle in the Netherlands in 1918, the first thing Wilhelm said to his host was, "So what do you say, now give me a nice cup of hot, good, real English tea."[30] No longer able to call upon the services of a court barber, and partly out of a desire to disguise his features, Wilhelm grew a beard and allowed his famous moustache to droop. Wilhelm even learned the Dutch language.[31]

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 Austrian Empress Elisabeth after her murder in 1898. He also sketched plans for grand buildings and battleships when he was bored, although experts in construction saw his ideas as grandiose and unworkable. 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 (a hobby he discovered upon his arrival at Doorn) and observing the life of a country gentleman.[32]. During his years in Doorn, he largely deforested his estate.

In the early 1930s, Wilhelm apparently hoped that the successes of the German NSDAP would stimulate interest in the revival of the monarchy. His second wife, Hermine (see below), actively petitioned the German Reich government on her husband's behalf, but the scorn which Adolf Hitler felt for the man who he believed contributed to Germany's greatest defeat, and his own desire for power would prevent Wilhelm's restoration.

Though he hosted Hermann Göring at Doorn on at least one occasion, Wilhelm grew to mistrust Hitler. He heard about the Night of the Long Knives of 30 June 1934 by wireless and said of it, "What would people have said if I had done such a thing?"[33] and hearing of the murder of the wife of former Chancellor Schleicher, "We have ceased to live under the rule of law and everyone must be prepared for the possibility that the National Socialists will push their way in and put them up against the wall!"[34]

Wilhelm was also appalled at the Kristallnacht of 9–10 November 1938 saying, "I have just made my views clear to Auwi [Wilhelm's fourth son] in the presence of his brothers. He had the nerve to say that he agreed with the Jewish pogroms and understood why they had come about. When I told him that any decent man would describe these actions as gangsterisms, he appeared totally indifferent. He is completely lost to our family ..."[35]

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 stayed in regular contact with Hitler through General von Dommes, who represented the family in Germany.[36] 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." Nevertheless, after the German conquest of the Netherlands in 1940, the aging Wilhelm retired completely from public life.

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 Judah". Wilhelm asserted that the "British people must be liberated from Antichrist Judah. We must drive Judah out of England just as he has been chased out of the Continent."[37] 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 "Judah'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!"[37]

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."[38] 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."[39]

Wilhelm II's funeral 9 June 1941

The entry of the German Army into Paris, almost one year after France declared war on Germany, stirred painful, deep-seated emotions within him. In a letter to his daughter Victoria Louise, the Duchess of Brunswick, he allegedly wrote: "Thus is the pernicious entente cordial of Uncle Edward (VII) brought to nought."[40] Concerning Hitler's persecutions of the Jews: "The Jewish persecutions of 1938 horrified the exile. 'For the first time, I am ashamed to be a German.'"[41] Given that such comment directly contradicts his praise of Jews being removed from their occupations and residences in Europe (cited above), it is unclear which of the two positions (if either) is Wilhelm's true one.


Wilhelm II with Auguste Viktoria

Wilhelm II died of a pulmonary embolism in Huis Doorn, Netherlands, on 4 June 1941 aged 82, with German soldiers as an honour guard at the gates of his estate. Hitler had hoped 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. Hitler believed this would demonstrate to Germans the direct succession of the Third Reich from Imperial Germany.[42]

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, along with a military band. The mourners including Field Marshall August von Mackensen, and a few other military advisors.


He was buried in a mausoleum in the grounds of Huis Doorn, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for German monarchists. To this day, small but enthusiastic numbers of them gather at Huis Doorn every year on the anniversary of his death to pay their homage to the last German Emperor.[43]


The German Kaiser and his second wife, Hermine, née Princess Reuss of Greiz, widowed von Schoenaich-Carolath (1887–1947).

First marriage and issue

Wilhelm and his first wife, Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein, were married on 27 February 1881. They had seven children.


  1. Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882–1951) married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (20 September 1886 – 6 May 1954) in Berlin on 6 June 1905. Cecilie was the daughter of Frederick Francis III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1851–1897) and his wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia (1860–1922). They had six children. Their eldest son was killed in 1940 during World War II.
  2. Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia (1883–1942). On 27 February 1906 Prince Eitel married Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Oldenburg (2 February 1879 Oldenburg, Germany – 29 March 1964 Westerstede, Germany) in Berlin, Germany. They were divorced on 20 October 1926 and had no children.
  3. Prince Adalbert of Prussia (1884–1948). He married Princess Adelheid "Adi" Arna Karoline Marie Elisabeth of Saxe-Meiningen (16 August 1891 – 25 April 1971) on 3 August 1914 in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. They had three children.
  4. Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia (1887–1949). He married Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (21 April 1887 Germany – 15 April 1957 France), on 22 October 1908. They had one child.
  5. Prince Oskar of Prussia (1888–1958). He was married on 31 July 1914 to Countess Ina-Marie Helene Adele Elise von Bassewitz (27 January 1888 – 17 September 1973). This marriage was morganatic, and so upon marriage Ina-Marie was created Countess von Ruppin. In 1920, she and her children were granted the rank of Princess and Princes of Prussia with the style Royal Highness. They had four children. Their eldest son was killed in 1939 in World War II.
  6. Prince Joachim of Prussia (1890–1920) married Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt (10 June 1898 – 22 May 1983), on 11 March 1916. The couple had one son. Joachim's great-grandson Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia, Prince of Prussia (born 1981) is a pretender to the Russian throne.
  7. Princess Viktoria Luise (1892–1980); married 1913 to Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick (1887–1953). Victoria Louise and Ernest Augustus had five children.

Augusta, known affectionately as "Dona", was a close and constant companion to Wilhelm throughout his life, and her death on 11 April 1921 was a devastating blow, less than a year after their son Joachim had committed suicide, unable to accept his lot after the abdication of his father, and the severe trauma and depression felt after his service in the Great War.


The following January, Wilhelm received a birthday greeting from a son of the late Prince Johann George Ludwig Ferdinand August Wilhelm of Schönaich-Carolath. The 63-year-old Wilhelm invited the boy and his mother, Hermine Reuss of Greiz, to Doorn. Wilhelm found Hermine very attractive, and greatly enjoyed her company. The couple were wed on 9 November 1922, despite the objections of Wilhelm's monarchist supporters and his children. Hermine's daughter, Henriette, married the late Prince Joachim's son, Karl Franz Josef, in 1940, but divorced in 1946. Hermine remained a constant companion to the aging Emperor until his death.


Patrilineal descent

Patrilineal descent is the hereditary principle in royal houses (excepting Poland's elective monarchy and where there are no male heirs), as it can be easily traced back through the generations.

House of Hohenzollern

  1. Burkhard, Count of Zollern
  2. Frederick I, Count of Zollern, d. 1125
  3. Frederick II of Zollern and Hohenberg, d. 1145
  4. Frederick I, Burgrave of Nuremberg, 1139–1200
  5. Conrad I, Burgrave of Nuremberg, 1186–1261
  6. Frederick III, Burgrave of Nuremberg, 1220–1297
  7. Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg, 1287–1332
  8. John II, Burgrave of Nuremberg, 1309–1357
  9. Frederick V, Burgrave of Nuremberg, 1333–1398
  10. Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg, 1371–1440
  11. Albert III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg, 1414–1486
  12. John Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg, 1455–1499
  13. Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg, 1484–1535
  14. Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg, 1505–1571
  15. John George, Elector of Brandenburg, 1525–1598
  16. Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg, 1546–1608
  17. John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, 1572–1619
  18. George William, Elector of Brandenburg, 1595–1640
  19. Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, 1620–1688
  20. Frederick I of Prussia, 1657–1713
  21. Frederick William I of Prussia, 1688–1740
  22. Prince Augustus William of Prussia, 1722–1758
  23. Frederick William II of Prussia, 1744–1797
  24. Frederick William III of Prussia, 1770–1840
  25. Wilhelm I, German Emperor, 1797–1888
  26. Frederick III, German Emperor, 1831–1888
  27. Wilhelm II, German Emperor, 1859–1941


Further reading

  • The Private Lives of Wilhelm II & His Consort by Henry W. Fischer, Heinemann, London, 1906.
  • Kaiser Wilhelm und Seine Zeit 1888-1913 by Hans Schöningen, Hansa-Verlag, Hamburg, 1914.
  • Imperial Germany by Prince Bernhard von Bulow, English-language fourth edition, Cassell & Co., London, 1914.
  • The Kaiser's Memoirs by Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, Harper Bros., London & New York, 1922.
  • German Colonization - The Truth about the German Colonies, by Dr. Heinrich Schnee, English-language edition, London, 1926.
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II by Emil Ludwig, Putnam & Sons, London & New York, 1926-1929 (6 printings).
  • The Kaiser by Joachim von Kurenberg, Cassell & Co., London, 1954.
  • The Kings Depart by Richard M. Watt, Literary Guild, London, 1969, ISBN: 297-17858
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II by John C. G. Röhl, Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2014, ISBN: 978-10107-07225-1


  1. Titles and styles of William II
  2. Buchner, Max, Wilhelm II, Seine Weltanschauung [Wilhelm II, his world-view]. Leipzig: Verlag von K.F. Koehler. 1927, p. 22
  3. Balfour, Michael, The Kaiser and his Times, Houghton-Mifflin, 1964, p. 69
  4. Balfour, 1964, p. 70
  5. Buchner, p. 44
  6. Balfour, 1964, p. 132
  7. The New York Times, March 16, 1890
  8. The New York Times, March 16, 1890
  9. The German Emperor as shown in his public utterances, p. 55
  10. Sulzberger, C.L., The Fall of Eagles, Crown, 1977, p. 391
  11. Wilhelm II: “Hun Speech” (1900). German History in Documents and Images. Retrieved on 2009-07-10.
  12. Palmer, Alan, Bismarck, Charles Scribner & Sons, 1976, p. 267.
  13. Taylor, A.J.P., Bismarck,, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1969, p. 264.
  14. Churchill, Winston, The World Crisis, C. Scribner & Sons (1923) p. 195, attributed to Bismarck by Albert Ballin
  15. Ludwig, 1927, p. 73
  16. St. Aubyn, Giles Queen Victoria, p. 598
  17. Britannica.com
  18. Brown, Michael Edward, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, MIT Press, 2001, p. 49
  19. Herwig, pp. 21–23
  20. Craig, Gordon A., Germany 1866-1945, pages 374, 377-378 and page 393
  21. Keegan, John, The First World War (Hutchinson, London 1998), p. 449. ISBN 0-09-1801788
  22. The Last Kaiser, p. 426
  23. The Last Kaiser, p. 425
  24. G. P. Putnam's & Sons, New York, 1964
  25. My Memoirs: 1878–1918 by William II, London: Cassell & Co. (1922), p. 310
  26. On 1 November 1936, van Houten now a colonel, Kaiser Wilhelm II bestowed upon him the commander's cross (neck order) of the House Order of Hohenzollern "In grateful recognition of your excellent service over many years [...]". Source: https://gmic.co.uk/topic/81905-what-uniform-is-this
  27. Marius van Houten (Archive)
  28. Röhl, John, The Kaiser and His Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 210.
  29. Röhl, p. 210.
  30. The Last Kaiser, p. 419
  31. The Last Kaiser, 457.
  32. MacDonogh, Giles,The Last Kaiser, p. 457.
  33. The Last Kaiser, p. 452
  34. The Last Kaiser, pp. 452–452
  35. The Last Kaiser, p. 456
  36. Petropoulos, Jonathan, Royals and the Reich, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 170.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Röhl, p. 211.
  38. Petropoulos 2006, p. 170".
  39. Pakula, Hannah, The Empress Frederick, Touchstone, 1995, p. 602.
  40. Palmer, Alan, The Kaiser: Warlord of the Second Reich, Charles Scribner & Sons, 1978, p. 226.
  41. Balfour, 1964, p. 419.
  42. Sweetman, Jack, The Unforgotten Crowns: The German Monarchist Movements, 1918-1945, an Emory University Dissertation, 1973, pps:654–655.
  43. "How A German Soldier Still Loves His Dead Kaiser":