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Wilhelm II. CW 41: Germany United and Divided, 1890-1991. Wilhelm going to the throne. Wilhelm was crowned as King Of Prussia and Emperor of Germany at the age of 29. This made him 3 rd Emperor of Germany and 9 th King of Prussia. While on the throne.

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Wilhelm II


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    1. Wilhelm II CW 41: Germany United and Divided, 1890-1991

    2. Wilhelm going to the throne • Wilhelm was crowned as King Of Prussia and Emperor of Germany at the age of 29. • This made him 3rd Emperor of Germany and 9th King of Prussia.

    3. While on the throne • Wilhelm rejected the Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck’s foreign policy. • In 1890 Wilhelm and Otto ‘Split up’ • The ‘Bismarck Myth’ the view that with the resignation of the Iron Chancellor (Bismarck), Wilhelm II effectively destroyed any chance of Germany having a stable and effective government.

    4. While on the throne • In 1900 Wilhelm appointed Prince Bernard von Bulow as Chancellor. • He hoped he had found a man with the ability of the Iron Chancellor and also had respect for his wishes – he would run Germany how Wilhelm wanted. • Over the next decade Wilhelm started to regret his choice, and after the ‘Daily Telegraph Affair’ ( Bulow showed Wilhelm in a bad light) he dismissed him for Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg (1909) • In 1917 he dismissed Bethmann-Hollweg reluctantly after three years of WWI.

    5. Kaiser messing up Germany • In 1896 Wilhelm sent a telegraph to the South African Republic, congratulating him on defeating the British led Jameson raid. • This made the British VERY ANGRY as it seemed to be undermining their domination of the seas.

    6. The WWI role • Wilhelm kept the triple alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy, which was Bismarck policy. • When the heir to the Austrian throne was murdered, Wilhelm wanted to help them get revenge on Siberia. • Yet at the same time he was trying to prevent Austria declaring war on Serbia. • He failed! • All the powers, including Germany, were sucked into WWI

    7. Bye bye Wilhelm • Germany lost WWI • On 9th November 1918 Wilhelm was forced from his throne • He avoided captivity and lived quietly, until his death in 1941, in the Netherlands.

    8. Source 1: Kaiser Wilhelm II gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph that was published on 28th October 1908. Germany is a young and growing empire. She has a world-wide commerce which is rapidly expanding and to which the legitimate ambition of patriotic Germans refuses to assign any bounds.Germany must have a powerful fleet to protect that commerce and her manifold interests in even the most distant seas. She expects those interests to go on growing, and she must be able to champion them manfully in any quarter of the globe. Her horizons stretch far away. She must be prepared for any eventualities in the Far East. Who can foresee what may take place in the Pacific in the days to come, days not so distant as some believe, but days at any rate, for which all European powers with Far Eastern interests ought steadily to prepare? Look at the accomplished rise of Japan; think of the possible national awakening of China; and then judge of the vast problems of the Pacific. Only those powers that have great navies will be listened to with respect when the future of the Pacific comes to be solved; and if for that reason only, Germany must have a powerful fleet. It may even be that England herself will be glad that Germany has a fleet when they speak together on the same side in the great debates of the future.

    9. Source 2: The Austrian ambassador summarised the thoughts of Kaiser Wilhelm II after a meeting with him on 5th July 1914. First His Majesty assured me that he had expected severe measures on our part in regard to Serbia, but he must confess that as a result of the analysis given by our august Sovereign he must not lose sight of possible serious European complications. When I laid great emphasis on the seriousness of the situation, His Majesty authorized me to convey to our august Sovereign that even in that case we may reckon on full support from Germany. He did not in the least doubt that Herr von BethmannHollweg would entirely agree with his own view. This was especially true in respect of any measure we might take against Serbia. In His Majesty's view there should be no delay in undertaking these measures. Russia's bearing would in any case be hostile, but for this he had been prepared for years. And even if matters went to the length of war between Austria-Hungary and Russia, we could remain assured that Germany in her customary loyalty as an ally would stand at our side. Russia, by the way, was, as things stand today, not at all ready for war and would certainly think twice before resorting to arms. But she would certainly incite the other powers of the Triple Entente against us and fan the flames in the Balkans.

    10. Source 3: Kaiser Wilhelm II issued orders to U-boat commanders on 1st February, 1917. We will frighten the British flag off the face of the waters and starve the British people until they, who have refused peace, will kneel and plead for it.

    11. Source 4: Kaiser Wilhelm II, speech, Berlin (4th August, 1914) I recognise parties no more; I recognise only Germans!

    12. Source 5: Gottlieb von Jagow, letter to Prince Lichnowsky (18th July, 1914) We must see to localizing the conflict between Austria and Serbia. Whether this is possible will depend in the first place on Russia and in the second place on the moderating influence of the other members of the Entente. The more boldness Austria displays, the more strongly we support her, the more likely is Russia to keep quiet. There is certain to be some blustering in St. Petersburg, but at bottom Russia is not now ready to strike. France and England will not want war now. In a few years according to all expert opinion Russia will be ready to strike. Then she will crush us with the numbers of her soldiers, then she will have built her Baltic fleet and strategic railways. Our group meanwhile will be growing steadily weaker. Russia knows this well and therefore absolutely wants peace for several years more. If localization is not attainable and if Russia attacks Austria, then we cannot sacrifice Austria. We should then find ourselves in a not exactly proud isolation. I have no wish for a preventive war, but if the fight offers itself, we dare not flinch. I still hope and believe that the conflict can be localized. England's attitude in this matter will be of great importance.