Wilhelm II, German Emperor
|Emperor of Germany; King of Prussia; Grand Sausage-swallowing Loon
|The Kaiser, once again attempting to hide his withered arm
|1888 - 1918
|None (overthrown and ran away to Holland)
|France, Great Britain
|Victoria 'Jung Wicky'
“I want all my generals dressed as ballet dancers. Schnell! Schnell!!”
“My destiny is to rule the world. ”
Kaiser Wilhelm II (German: Wilhelm Friedrich Viktor Albrecht von Preußen, Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen; Australian: Billy Two) (27 January 1859 - 3 June 1941) would have been the Supreme Monster of the 20th Century but got beaten into first place by a certain Bohemian Corporal when the poll was carried out in Bild newspaper.
Crowned in 1888 Kaiser Wilhelm at first relied on his chancellor Otto von Bismarck to look after the country whilst he indulged in his passion of dressing up in tight military uniforms. When that got boring (at least in the short term), the Kaiser blamed Bismarck and took over running Germany directly. Bismarck was dismissed and redeployed to a bakery. He later produced a new kind of ration that would be better tasting and more portable than the existing foodstuffs. Bismarck called his creating the 'Kaiser roll.
Kaiser Wilhelm was born in 1859 to Prince Frederick of Prussia and his English wife Victoria - though in fact she was as German as he was being that ancestors were 100% wurst munchers - being the daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Wilhem was born with his riding boots and so made it a difficult birth for his mother. She had insisted on English doctors but they botched the birth by trying to pull out the little prince out of his mother by his black booties. In the chaos and screaming, Wilhelm's left arm was left behind and only stitched back on when the nurses noticed that something was wrong.
Whilst the rest of Wilhem grew up into a caricature of a stiff backed Prussian, his left arm remained a puny thing. Wilhelm tried to get an elephant at Berlin Zoo to pull it out longer but failed. So instead he had it strapped to a sword or walking stick (when out in his civvies) so that no one could detect a physical weakness.
It was an exciting time for Wilhem to grow up. His grandfather King Wilhelm beat Denmark, Austria-Hungary and France in a rapid series of wars which transformed Germany from a collection of quarreling midget states into a European superstate in 1871. His grand father's Prime Minister Otto Von Bismarck then became Imperial Chancellor and ran the country for the next 19 years with barely a reference to Wilhelm's family. This irked the Kaiser who would throw monster tantrums or visit his relatives in England to annoy them. Queen Victoria loved 'Villy' as he was her eldest grandson but Uncle Bertie wished his nephew got swallowed by a hippopotamus. The young Kaiser stayed out of Bertie and when scolded by his other English relatives, threatened he would return next time with the Prussian army.
In 1888 Bismarck discovered Emperor Wilhelm I (he had been title up graded in 1871) had been dead for three months and no one had noticed. The new emperor was Frederick but his 100 cigarette day habit caught up with him and he was dead 99 days later. Wilhelm was now the Kaiser chief!
Billy boy bully
The Kaiser wanted no one to tell him to wipe his nose or tell him off if he let go a few trumpet blasts when inspecting his army. When Bismarck objected to the Kaiser's childish sense of humour, Wilhelm ordered Bismarck out of his office and to spend the rest of his days in a rowing boat.
Now Wilhelm could practise his swagger and indulge in his passion for collecting uniforms. Military ones for him and a variety of fancy dress outfits which he would insist all his ministers and generals wear whilst addressing him. Bismarck was at least spared a dress but his successors were not so luck. Leo von Caprivi was obliged to dress up as a milk maid, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst got to try on an undertaker's outfit whilst Bernhard von Bülow had to deliver his explanations of German foreign policy in a gorilla suit.
It was only when he came to England to visit his British relatives that Wilhelm had to remind himself no to act the oaf. But when you wield so much power, it was hard for him to modify what he was doing. And to cap it all, he had serious naval envy. The German army had been created by his Prussian ancestors but they had no interest in regular bathing let alone messing around with boats. This also changed with Wilhelm. He wanted a big fleet like the English. It was the first diagnosed case of extreme Navalism.
To disguise his intentions and fool the British, Wilhelm insisted his navy would be used only in a giant bath he ordered to be constructed near Berlin. Photographs were published in Germany showing Wilhelm's bath time toys, though they were suspiciously neither yellow or duck shape. The man entrusted for the task of creating the Kaiser's navy was Alfred von Tirpitz.
A look-a-like for Neptune with his forked beard and large bulk, Tirpitz wanted the German navy to so scare the British that they would come on their hands, knees and stomach pleading for a military alliance. Tirpitz said the English needed to fear Germany and not make jokes about sausages and over waxed mustaches.
So Germany embarked on their great naval expansion. Extra wide docks were constructed for extra fat ships. The Germans like their naval vessels to look like them - low centre of gravity and a lot spilling over the trousers. The British naval designers preferred the sleek and dashing look with their vessels. At the Battle of Jutland each side would get to test their boat theories when firing shells at each other.
The Kaiser insisted his navy would carry the names of great German admirals. Except, there weren't any. So instead vessels got named after generals instead. The Duke of Wellington's old buddy Marshal Blucher got a ship named after him. It unfortunately sank after an unpleasant incident on Dogger Bank in 1915 when the Royal Navy used it for target practice and sold the photos to Fleet Street.
When the Kaiser began his reign, France was a friendless, can-can obsessed country with no allies. The British hadn't forgottten Horatio Nelson or the Battle of Trafalgar. The Russians disliked the French for them being a dangerous republic in a Europe where every other state bar Switzerland and San Marino were a monarchy, principality, duchy or the Pope. Only the USA was a friend of France which is why they got the hideous Statue of Liberty as a birthday present
Bismarck had spent a lot of his time being friends with the Russians. After all, both countries couldn't abide the Poles but when it came to the other slav nations like Serbia and Bulgaria, Russia behaved differently. They were after all followers of the shaggy bearded Orthodox Christianity. So the Tsar liked to boast that Russia was a 'big brother' who would protect them from their enemies. One were the Turks but the others were Austria-Hungary. They were rock solid allies. Russia wasn't friends with Austria but the wiley Emperor Franz-Josef in Vienna knew the Germans wouldn't abandon him for a flaky Romanov like 'Nicky'. So Willy dropped Nicky and became friends with Madame Fifi.
Wilhelm maintained his British connection. He often visted unofficially, disguising his helmet under a huge hat. However Wilhelm chose to champion the Boers in the Boer War and this really got up the fat nose of King Edward VII when he became King in 1901. Wilhelm hated Bertie and the feeling was mutual. He called Edward 'Brothel Bertie' for the king's preferred enjoyment of like in gay Paris and a succession of mistresses. In comparison, the Kaiser was married to the dim Empress Augusta and appears to have had no interest in corset chasing either. He liked the company of men in uniform and would order the latest 'cut' of military fancy dress to parade around in. Sigmund Freud would have had something to say but the Kaiser was an anti-semite and feared the octopus.
So it is of no surprise that the personal animosity of Edward and Wilhelm led to something that the German ruler wasn't expecting. The British and French put aside 900 years of trying to kick the merde out of each other to pal up against their common enemy - the popinjay Wilhem. An Entente Cordiale (with extra lime and lemon) was announced in 1903. France, Russia and Britain together? A coincidence thought not the Kaiser. He would do his damnedest to sink this one.
Plans and blank sheets of paper
Wilhelm could strut as emperor but when it came to the nuts and bolts of any given policy, the Hohenzollern brain would switch off. His High Command told him about their various 'plans' in the event of war. One was the Schlieffen Plan. This envisaged a deft bit of military ballet involving attacking France first and then sending the army out East before the Russians got their peasant boots on. This plan wasn't changed even when the British were counted as the new enemy.
Rather foolishly, the Kaiser had also promised Austria-Hungary that if the shit kicked off in the Balkans again, Germany would stand behind her ally. He signed a jotter book of blank pages and handed them over to the The Austrian emperor-in-waiting Franz Ferdinand. Franz thanked the Kaiser and they celebrate their friendship by spending weekends together blasting away at anything that ran, crawled or flew through the air. So when Franz Ferdinand got the bullet in Sarajevo in June 1914 and the Austrians asked the Kaiser 'are you still with us?', Wilhem said Ja! and then went on a boating holiday in the Baltic. When he came back, the Austrians were firing shells at Belgrade and the Russians were mobilizing.
In desperation Wilhem sent off love letters to Czar Nicholas (In English). These were the embarrassing 'Willy-Nicky' or 'Nicky-Willy' correspondence. A couple of years later the Bolsheviks published the correspondence. Some went like this:
I am sooooo embarrassed! We could be at war soon!! Oh can you drop some sleepy pills in your generals' vodka and I will do the same with the schnapps at my HQ? This is one huge misunderstanding. Our real enemy is King Georgie and his French slattern. Let's forget about the Balkans and that old codger Franz-Josef will soon be gone.
Love and Kisses,
In response Tsar Nicholas wrote back.
I hate this business too but that 'old codger' wants to rub my country's arse in his manure. I can't let that happen again or the Romanovs are toast and marmalade. Our countries share so much in common like lacking of a sense of humour for one thing. And both of us can't abide the Poles either.
On the 1st August 1914, Germany and Russia declared war. On each other.
They tell me nothing
Wilhelm ordered his '1914 Victory' uniforms in advance. For France he requested a glittery uniform in white to ride on a horse through the Arc de Triomphe. With Russia it was to be in the uniform of a hussar whilst with the British, Wilhelm would disembark from one of his warships outside the Tower of London where he would visit his imprisoned British relatives.
Yet Wilhelm who had never fought in any battles (something even his despised father Fred had managed to do) was shunted aside from military planning. It became the 'Paul and Erich' show as generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff got to run the show. The Kaiser was left to his fleet to play with but since they were his 'toys', Wilhelm was reluctant for them to take on the British fleet directly. 'Georgie' had more ships and within a year, those units of the German fleet outside Germany were either sunk or destroyed.
Retreating to his bath room to sulk, the Kaiser eventually agreed to build more U-Boats and concentrate on using mines to tackle the English. These sank for more British naval units than any of his shiny boats at anchor in Kiel or the Baltic. Only once did the Germans go out into the North Sea to find sneak up behind the British Grand Fleet at Jutland. German engineering had made their vessels virtually unsinkable but they still retreated back into Kiel after.
In 1917 Russia finally collapsed as 'Nicky' soon lost his throne, liberty and eventually his life. Instead of sorting out a quick deal, the Kaiser was eager to annex vast stretches of Poland and the Ukraine to the German empire. So it wasn't until 1918 that the Germans finally got free of that war with a treaty. By then after sinking rich Americans on their cross Atlantic cruises, the Americans had joined the war against Germany.
Finally in November 1918, the Kaiser ordered his navy to go out to battle with the Allies in a 'do or die' encounter. The navy preferred to do nothing and with the Western Front collapsing, the Kaiser fled to Holland. He had developed a serious cheese addiction.
The Dutch refused to hand the Kaiser over to the Allies. King George expressed the opinion that he would like to see his former cousin swinging from the yard arm of a British Dreadnought. The French wanted either death or exile to Devil's Island for their enemy. The Russians (at least the Bolsheviks) expressed a view that everyone responsible for the war be shot. The American President Woodrow Wilson said the Kaiser had been a very naughty German.
The Dutch declined to comply to any of this and instead the former German leader was left alone in his refuge a Doorn. Their Wilhelm spent his time re-fighting all his enemies and blaming everyone for being an 'utter cad' to him. Starting with the English, naturally. When his fleet which had been impounded by the British and locked up at Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands, decided to sink their own ships, the Kaiser ceremonially sunk all his models in the large duck pond in the grounds of his house.
There is a German army to protect you
Wilhelm hated the German republic that had replaced his regime. He hoped it would fall over and his dynasty would be returned. He was expecting that restoration would mean him returning as emperor but thought either his sons or grandsons would get the throne back. Like many German monarchists, he hoped that Adolf Hitler would do the decent thing and step down after he became Fuhrer. The former corporal had no intention of doing that but did send his friend Hermann Goering over to visit. It was probably there that Goering picked up his mania for fancy-dancy uniforms. Wilhelm preferred to dress like an English gentleman (as ever, he was full of contradictions) and drank tea.
The former Emperor's retreat was disturbed when the German army turned up unannounced. The former Kaiser invited the generals for lunch but Hitler ordered what was in effect house arrest on Wilhelm. In June 1940 Hitler achieved what Wilhelm had failed to do: A victory march through Paris. Showing a last flicker of his childish personality, Wilhem write a letter to Hitler congratulating him. Addressing the dictator as 'Chancellor Hitler', Wilhelm wrote:
...of course I think it is a great victory. If the Russians hadn't come against us in 1914 then my army would have crushed the French and British without assistance. You have done well Corporal...
When the Kaiser died in June 1941, Hitler made his excuses and refused to attend the funeral . Not even Goering turned up in one of his outlandish uniforms. One of the Kaiser's old generals did turn up. The sprightly 91 year old General August von Mackensen. He did wear his old 'Death Head' Hussar uniform. Standing over the grave of the Kaiser, Mackensen's cloak slipped off his shoulders and fell on the coffin. Unwillingly to retrieve it, the old General insisted it was a symbolic gesture. Old Germany, Old Prussia were disappearing. And so should he.
- Wilhelm narrowly beat Josef Stalin and Justin Bieber to come in second.
- If you think I am making all of this up, you are wrong
- The original design was based on Eugene Delacroix's painting of a woman flag waving with her solid breasts on display. A hidden bra was added to the finished product.
- George V had changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Wettin-Can't-Hide-It-You're-A-Kraut' to Windsor in 1917. Anyone speaking kindly about the old Fatherland was exiled from court.
- The Dutch were not expecting to be invaded. They had stayed out of the previous war
- Busy with Operation_Barbarossa no doubt.
Otto Von Bismarck
|Chancellor of Germany