Monday 6 June 2011

Wilhelm II: Seventy Years On

"Anyone who reads about the personalities of his era cannot but be intrigued by him. Vilified and caricatured as he was - and his speeches and distinctive appearance were a gift to opponants - it is clear with hindsight that he was a much more complex and interesting figure than he once appeared. At times bombastic and vainglorious, at others insightful and far-sighted, a man who could be both bullying and selfless, he still arouses strong feelings..."

Over on his blog Once I Was A Clever Boy, John Whitehead reflects on attitudes to Kaiser Wilhelm II on the seventieth anniversary of his death. The former emperor of Germany passed away in exile in the Netherlands on June 4th 1941, after having abdicated at the end of the First World War twenty-three years earlier. The emperor was survived by his second wife, Hermine; his first wife, Augusta-Viktoria, had died shortly after the downfall of the monarchy. And by six of the seven children from his first marriage - Crown Prince Wilhelm, Prince Eitel-Friedrich, Prince Adalbert, Prince Oskar and the Kaiser's only daughter, Viktoria-Louisa, Duchess of Brunswick. His youngest son, Prince Joachim, who had struggled with severe depression for much of his adult life, had tragically committed suicide in 1920 in the aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles and his divorce from Princess Maria-Augusta von Anhalt. 

The emperor was buried in Doorn, Holland, where he had lived in exile since 1918 and his tomb can still be seen there today (below). 


  1. "distinctive appearance"??? Any portrait I've ever seen of him shows the man to be stunningly handsome (mangled arm aside) - kind of like a Ralph Lauren model.
    Thankfully, Kaiser Bill is finally getting a break from historians, and WWI is being exposed for the sham and the tradgedy it was.

  2. Thank you for commemorating Kaiser Wilhelm II.


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