Emperor Wilhelm II’s Reign:
With the death of Emperor Wilhelm I in 1888, Emperor Frederick Wilhelm ascended the throne but reigned for only a few months. On June 15 1888, Wilhelm II was crowned third Kaiser of Germany and ninth King of Prussia. Wilhelm was autocratic in his rule and did not approve of democracy. German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck had pursued a policy of carefully measured colonization and cautious diplomacy. This led to a spat with the German Chancellor, and Emperor Wilhelm II dismissed the Bismarck.
Emperor Wilhelm II pursued active imperialism and rapid expansion. Radically anti- British, he endorsed German militarism to establish naval supremacy. During the Boer War, Emperor Wilhelm’s support of South Africa in the Boer War, statements supporting Morocco against the French and interview with The Daily Telegraph did not make him popular with other European nations.
Emperor Wilhelm II and World War I:
Emperor Wilhelm II had assured Austria-Hungary of German military support and was keen on taking to task the Black Hand group responsible for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Following the assassination, Austria-Hungary served Serbia a harsh ultimatum. Emperor Wilhelm II, though on his annual cruise at the time, hastened home to take control of the political developments. His assent of Serbia’s response, ignorant of Austria-Hungary’s decision to declare war was ineffectual as Russia had started to mobilize forces.
Emperor Wilhelm II considered Russia’s refusal to demobilize as part of a conspiracy on the part of Britain, Russia, and France to annihilate Germany. With the outbreak of World War I, Wilhelm II was the commander in chief of the German armed forces. With the progress of war, the emperor’s authority diminished.
Abdication and Exile:
By 1916, Germany had become a dictatorship with Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff controlling all military and administrative authority. In 1917, they pitched for the dismissal of Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg. The Empire collapsed in October 1918, and the country's military and civilian populace no longer looked upon Emperor Wilhelm II as the leader of Germany.
In 1918, a number of uprisings in Berlin and a mutiny in the armed forces left the Kaiser morally crippled. On November 9, 1918, German Chancellor Prince Max announced the abdication of the emperor.
Wilhelm then sought refuge in the Netherlands and Queen Wilhelmina did not succumb to the Allies’ appeal for his extradition. Wilhelm bought a castle in Doorn and lived there for the rest of his life. He wrote two autobiographical books, Memoirs 1878-1918 and My Early Life. Wilhelm II died in 1941 in Doorn. His last wishes of never returning to Germany were respected and he was buried in Doorn.
|Major Battles of World War I|
|Battle of Mons - 1914||Kaiser Wilhelm II|
|Battle of Tannenberg – 1914||Battles of Gaza - 1917|
|Kaiser Wilhelm II||Second Battle of Aisne - 1917|
|First Battle of Marne – 1914||Second Battle of Arras - 1917|
|First Battle of the Masurian Lakes – 1914||Battle of Messines – 1917|
|First Battle of Aisne – 1914||Battle of Passchendaele - 1917|
|First Battle of Albert - 1914||Battle of Caporetto - 1917|
|First Battle of Arras – 1914||Battle of Cambrai - 1917|
|First Battle of Ypres – 1914||Kaiser Wilhelm II|
|Gallipoli Campaign – 1915||Kaiser Wilhelm II - 1918|
|Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes – 1915||Kaiser Wilhelm II|
|Battles of Isonzo – 1915||Second Battle of Somme - 1918|
|Loos-Artois Offensive - 1915||Second Battle of Marne - 1918|
|Battle of Verdun - 1916||Battle of St Mihiel - 1918|
|Kaiser Wilhelm II||Battle of Cambrai - 1917|
|First Battle of Somme - 1916||Battle of Vittori Veneto - 1918|