Ascent: Emperor Wilhelm I dies 9-Mar-1888. Frederick III is crowned Emperor
but cannot rule due to throat cancer and a ninety-nine day coma. Wilhelm II succeeds his father and is crowned Emperor (midyear) 1888.
Politics: Above all, the Kaiser wanted "a place in the sun" for the German people. The problem was the only places left were in the shade. There was very little room left for new colonization in the early part of this century. Never the less the Kaiser built up the German military machine and under the Tirpitz Plan, built a naval fleet to rival that of Great Britain. The term "saber rattler" sums up his politics as well as his personality. Historian Barbara Tuchman put it well when she referred to the Kaiser as "possessor of the least inhibited tongue in Europe".
Personal: The Kaiser was born with a withered left arm (like FDR's polio, this defect was pretty well covered up and is visible in only a few photographs). This, together with having some tough footsteps in which to follow, led Wilhelm towards the military lifestyle. He loved his numerous uniforms and surrounding himself with the elite of German military society.
Misconception: The Kaiser was a warmonger solely responsible for the First World War. The Kaiser did not start the war. The Kaiser did not want the war. "Saber rattling" is one thing, a war with the other major European powers is something very different indeed! The most that can be said is that the Kaiser did not do enough to try to control the actions of Austria-Hungary and prevent the outbreak of war. In the end he accepted war.
Fate: The Kaiser was forced to abdicate as part of the Armistice. He went to the Netherlands where he died in 1941. He is buried at Doorn.
|Between 1908 and the first world war, Kaiser Wilhelm II spent his summers at Achilleion Palace (Corfu Greece). His favourite trip was to the village of Pelekas (12 km from Corfu Town) to watch the sunset. A lookout point on a rock pinnacle is still known today as "Kaisers Throne" from where you have a superb view of the center of the island spread out below.|