führte Wilhelm II. Deutschland in den Ersten Weltkrieg. Vier Jahre später blieb ihm nur noch die Flucht. Fortan lebte er im niederländischen Exil - und. Friedrich Wilhelm wird am in Berlin geboren. Sein Vater August Wilhelm () ist ein Bruder Friedrichs des Großen, seine Mutter Luise von. Friedrich Wilhelm II. (* September in Berlin; † November im Marmorpalais in Potsdam) war von bis zu seinem Tod König von Preußen. Er tat aber auch wenig, um dies deutlich zu machen. Eine Erziehung, die Friedrich Wilhelm auf die Regierungsgeschäfte eines regierenden Monarchen vorbereitet hätte, erhielt er jedoch Casino Bordsspel - Spela Casino Bordsspel gratis. Die geradezu brüske Entlassung Bismarcks erfolgte ohne das im deutschen Volk irgendein Casino riezlern kleinwalsertal laut wurde. April verstarb Wilhelms Frau Auguste Viktoria. Gustav Adolf von Ingenheim — Unter ihnen stellte Wilhelmine Encke eine besondere Ausnahme dar: Dieser Position neigte zunächst auch Wilhelm zu. Diese machten später Beste Spielothek in Oberdorf finden Abdankung des Kaisers zur Bedingung für die Eröffnung von Friedensverhandlungen. Casino moons no deposit Wahlsystem grenzte aber auch politische Minderheiten nicht aus. Der Kaiser lehnte aber alle Angebote dankend mit der Erklärung ab, er wolle wegen seines hohen Alters in Beste Spielothek in Vordergründl finden bleiben und seinem Schicksal dort entgegensehen. Bischoffwerder und Woellner inszenierten spiritistische Sitzungen, in deren Verlauf dem König vorgespielt wurde, mit seinen verstorbenen Vorfahren zu reden Hammer of Thor Slot Machine Online ᐈ Tom Horn™ Casino Slots sich Rat von Beste Spielothek in Glendorf finden zu holen. Bei der Geburt des Prinzen im Berliner Kronprinzenpalais waren, wie bei Thronfolgergeburten üblich, hohe Beamte anwesend, um die Geburt zu bezeugen. Die russische Regierung widersetzte sich aber einem solchen Bündnis. Februar tritt Wilhelm seinen aktiven Militärdienst in Potsdam an.
He also made a number of public blunders, the worst of which was The Daily Telegraph affair of Wilhelm gave an interview to the London-based newspaper in which he offended the British by saying such things as: Although there is no evidence that Wilhelm was gay—in addition to his seven children with his first wife, he was rumored to have several illegitimate offspring—the scandal was used by his political opponents to weaken his influence.
His childhood visits to his British cousins had given him a love for the sea—sailing was one of his favorite recreations—and his envy of the power of the British navy convinced him that Germany must build a large fleet of its own in order to fulfill its destiny.
The kaiser supported the plans of Alfred von Tirpitz , his chief admiral, who maintained that Germany could gain diplomatic power over Britain by stationing a fleet of warships in the North Sea.
There is little doubt that he had been broken psychologically by the criticism that followed the Eulenburg-Harden and Daily Telegraph scandals; he suffered an episode of depression in In addition, the kaiser was out of touch with the realities of international politics in ; he thought that his blood relationships to other European monarchs were sufficient to manage the crisis that followed the June assassination of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
With World War I under way, the kaiser, as commander in chief of the German armed forces, retained the power to make upper-level changes in military command.
Nonetheless, he was largely a shadow monarch during the war, useful to his generals as a public-relations figure who toured the front lines and handed out medals.
After , Germany was, in effect, a military dictatorship dominated by two generals, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff In late , popular unrest in Germany which had suffered greatly during the war combined with a naval mutiny convinced civilian political leaders that the kaiser had to abdicate to preserve order.
He agreed to leave when the leaders of the army told him he had lost their support as well. On November 10, the former emperor took a train across the border into the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the war.
He eventually bought a manor house in the town of Doorn, and remained there for the remainder of his life.
Although the Allies wanted to punish Wilhelm as a war criminal, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands refused to extradite him.
His last years were darkened by the death of his first wife and the suicide of his youngest son in He did, however, make a happy second marriage in His new wife, Hermine Reuss , actively petitioned German leader Adolf Hitler in the early s to restore the monarchy, but nothing ever came of her negotiations.
In , Wilhelm remarked that for the first time he was ashamed to be a German. George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: The Kaiser's merchant ships in World War I s.
The Kaiser and his Times , Houghton Mifflin s. Machtstaat vor der Demokratie s. Western Civilization s. Emperor and exile, s.
Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and peacemaking, s. Kongeriget Preussen og Tyske Kejserrige Wienerkongressen Martsrevolutionen Frankfurterparlamentet Frederik Wilhelm 4.
Potsdamkonferencen Fordrivelsen af tyskere efter 2. Helmut Kohl Die Wende To plus fire-aftalen. Hentet fra " https: Han befordrades till kapten Han var fram till sitt trontillträde förordnad till olika regementen och blev generalmajor.
Trots att Tyskland anlände sent till kapplöpningen om Afrika lyckades man skaffa sig kolonierna Tyska Kamerun , Tyska Sydvästafrika och Tyska Östafrika.
Vilhelm II kom därför snart i allvarligt gräl med rikskanslern, och avskedade denne under tämligen bryska former. I Storbritannien, Frankrike och Ryssland väckte Tysklands expansiva kolonialpolitik harm.
Tyskland hade före Vilhelm II: Under von Tirpitz ledning hade Tyskland kraftigt upprustat sin örlogsflotta , Kaiserliche Marine , vilket främst bekymrade Storbritannien.
Tyska riksdagen riktade häftig kritik mot kejsaren efter detta. Som det nu blev var han ofta omgiven av smickrare eller inskränkt preussisk adel.
Kejsar Vilhelm II önskade aldrig krig under upptakten till första världskriget sommaren Men samma dag som Österrike-Ungern förklarade Serbien krig utlyste Serbiens allierade Ryssland partiell mobilisering 28 juli Hänsynslöshet och svaghet kommer störta världen i det mest fruktansvärda krig, vilket syftar till att förgöra Tyskland.
England, Frankrike och Ryssland har sammansvurit sig för att föra ett förintelsekrig mot oss. Denne startade inga offensiver i väster, men säkrade segern i öster.
Först sommaren sattes de in i strid. I slutet av juli startade ententen sin motoffensiv, hundradagarsoffensiven , vari de amerikanska trupperna visade sig ovärderliga.
After Kassel he spent four terms at the University of Bonn , studying law and politics. He became a member of the exclusive Corps Borussia Bonn.
As a scion of the royal house of Hohenzollern , Wilhelm was exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy.
This had a major impact on him and, in maturity, Wilhelm was seldom seen out of uniform. The hyper-masculine military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame his political ideals and personal relationships.
Crown Prince Frederick was viewed by his son with a deeply-felt love and respect. His father's status as a hero of the wars of unification was largely responsible for the young Wilhelm's attitude, as were the circumstances in which he was raised; close emotional contact between father and son was not encouraged.
Later, as he came into contact with the Crown Prince's political opponents, Wilhelm came to adopt more ambivalent feelings toward his father, perceiving the influence of Wilhelm's mother over a figure who should have been possessed of masculine independence and strength.
Wilhelm also idolised his grandfather, Wilhelm I , and he was instrumental in later attempts to foster a cult of the first German Emperor as "Wilhelm the Great".
Wilhelm resisted attempts by his parents, especially his mother, to educate him in a spirit of British liberalism.
Instead, he agreed with his tutors' support of autocratic rule, and gradually became thoroughly 'Prussianized' under their influence.
He thus became alienated from his parents, suspecting them of putting Britain's interests first. When Wilhelm was nearing twenty-one the Emperor decided it was time his grandson should begin the military phase of his preparation for the throne.
In many ways, Wilhelm was a victim of his inheritance and of Otto von Bismarck's machinations. Both sides of his family had suffered from mental illness, and this may explain his emotional instability.
Bismarck planned to use the young prince as a weapon against his parents in order to retain his own political dominance. Wilhelm thus developed a dysfunctional relationship with his parents, but especially with his English mother.
In an outburst in April , Wilhelm angrily implied that "an English doctor killed my father, and an English doctor crippled my arm — which is the fault of my mother", who allowed no German physicians to attend to herself or her immediate family.
As a young man, Wilhelm fell in love with one of his maternal first cousins, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse-Darmstadt.
She turned him down, and would, in time, marry into the Russian imperial family. The couple married on 27 February , and would remain married for forty years, until her death in In a period of ten years, between and , Augusta Victoria would bear Wilhelm seven children, six sons and a daughter.
Beginning in , Bismarck began advocating that Kaiser Wilhelm send his grandson on diplomatic missions, a privilege denied to the Crown Prince.
Petersburg to attend the coming of age ceremony of the sixteen-year-old Tsarevich Nicholas. Wilhelm's behavior did little to ingratiate himself to the tsar.
In , also, thanks to Herbert von Bismarck , the son of the Chancellor, Prince Wilhelm began to be trained twice a week at the Foreign Ministry.
One privilege was denied to Prince Wilhelm: He was already suffering from an incurable throat cancer and spent all 99 days of his reign fighting the disease before dying.
On 15 June of that same year , his year-old son succeeded him as German Emperor and King of Prussia. Although in his youth he had been a great admirer of Otto von Bismarck, Wilhelm's characteristic impatience soon brought him into conflict with the "Iron Chancellor", the dominant figure in the foundation of his empire.
The new Emperor opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to protect Germany's "place in the sun". Furthermore, the young Emperor had come to the throne determined to rule as well as reign, unlike his grandfather.
While the letter of the imperial constitution vested executive power in the emperor, Wilhelm I had been content to leave day-to-day administration to Bismarck.
Early conflicts between Wilhelm II and his chancellor soon poisoned the relationship between the two men. Bismarck believed that Wilhelm was a lightweight who could be dominated, and he showed scant respect for Wilhelm's policies in the late s.
The final split between monarch and statesman occurred soon after an attempt by Bismarck to implement a far-reaching anti-Socialist law in early The impetuous young Kaiser rejected Bismarck's "peaceful foreign policy" and instead plotted with senior generals to work "in favour of a war of aggression".
Bismarck told an aide, "That young man wants war with Russia, and would like to draw his sword straight away if he could.
I shall not be a party to it. His Kartell , the majority of the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party , favoured making the laws permanent, with one exception: The Kartell split over this issue and nothing was passed.
As the debate continued, Wilhelm became more and more interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers who went on strike in He routinely interrupted Bismarck in Council to make clear where he stood on social policy; Bismarck, in turn, sharply disagreed with Wilhelm's policy and worked to circumvent it.
Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the young Emperor and undermined by his ambitious advisors, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Wilhelm, as was required by the German Constitution.
The final break came as Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, with his Kartell voted from power due to the anti-Socialist bill fiasco.
Bismarck wished to form a new bloc with the Centre Party, and invited Ludwig Windthorst , the party's parliamentary leader, to discuss a coalition; Wilhelm was furious to hear about Windthorst's visit.
After a heated argument at Bismarck's estate over Imperial authority, Wilhelm stormed out. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Wilhelm's interference in foreign and domestic policy, which was published only after Bismarck's death.
Bismarck had sponsored landmark social security legislation, but by —90, he had become disillusioned with the attitude of workers. In particular, he was opposed to wage increases, improving working conditions, and regulating labour relations.
Moreover, the Kartell , the shifting political coalition that Bismarck had been able to forge since , had lost a working majority in the Reichstag.
At the opening of the Reichstag on 6 May , the Kaiser stated that the most pressing issue was the further enlargement of the bill concerning the protection of the labourer.
Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II's insistence in , at the age of 75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of Germany and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi , who in turn was replaced by Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst , in Following the dismissal of Hohenlohe in , Wilhelm appointed the man whom he regarded as "his own Bismarck", Bernhard von Bülow.
In foreign policy Bismarck had achieved a fragile balance of interests between Germany, France and Russia—peace was at hand and Bismarck tried to keep it that way despite growing popular sentiment against Britain regarding colonies and especially against Russia.
With Bismarck's dismissal the Russians now expected a reversal of policy in Berlin, so they quickly came to terms with France, beginning the process that by largely isolated Germany.
In appointing Caprivi and then Hohenlohe, Wilhelm was embarking upon what is known to history as "the New Course", in which he hoped to exert decisive influence in the government of the empire.
There is debate amongst historians as to the precise degree to which Wilhelm succeeded in implementing "personal rule" in this era, but what is clear is the very different dynamic which existed between the Crown and its chief political servant the Chancellor in the "Wilhelmine Era".
These chancellors were senior civil servants and not seasoned politician-statesmen like Bismarck. Wilhelm wanted to preclude the emergence of another Iron Chancellor, whom he ultimately detested as being "a boorish old killjoy" who had not permitted any minister to see the Emperor except in his presence, keeping a stranglehold on effective political power.
Upon his enforced retirement and until his dying day, Bismarck was to become a bitter critic of Wilhelm's policies, but without the support of the supreme arbiter of all political appointments the Emperor there was little chance of Bismarck exerting a decisive influence on policy.
Bismarck did manage to create the "Bismarck myth", the view which some would argue was confirmed by subsequent events that Wilhelm II's dismissal of the Iron Chancellor effectively destroyed any chance Germany had of stable and effective government.
In this view, Wilhelm's "New Course" was characterised far more as the German ship of state going out of control, eventually leading through a series of crises to the carnage of the First and Second World Wars.
In the early twentieth century Wilhelm began to concentrate upon his real agenda; the creation of a German navy that would rival that of Britain and enable Germany to declare itself a world power.
He ordered his military leaders to read Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan 's book, The Influence of Sea Power upon History , and spent hours drawing sketches of the ships that he wanted built.
Bülow and Bethmann Hollweg, his loyal chancellors, looked after domestic affairs, while Wilhelm began to spread alarm in the chancellories of Europe with his increasingly eccentric views on foreign affairs.
Wilhelm enthusiastically promoted the arts and sciences, as well as public education and social welfare.
He sponsored the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the promotion of scientific research; it was funded by wealthy private donors and by the state and comprised a number of research institutes in both pure and applied sciences.
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was unable to avoid the Kaiser's pressure and lost some of its autonomy when it was forced to incorporate new programs in engineering, and award new fellowships in engineering sciences as a result of a gift from the Kaiser in Wilhelm supported the modernisers as they tried to reform the Prussian system of secondary education, which was rigidly traditional, elitist, politically authoritarian, and unchanged by the progress in the natural sciences.
As hereditary Protector of the Order of Saint John , he offered encouragement to the Christian order's attempts to place German medicine at the forefront of modern medical practice through its system of hospitals, nursing sisterhood and nursing schools, and nursing homes throughout the German Empire.
Wilhelm continued as Protector of the Order even after , as the position was in essence attached to the head of the House of Hohenzollern.
Historians have frequently stressed the role of Wilhelm's personality in shaping his reign. Thus, Thomas Nipperdey concludes he was:.
Historian David Fromkin states that Wilhelm had a love-hate relationship with Britain. From the outset, the half-German side of him was at war with the half-English side.
He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British, wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them because he never could be fully accepted by them.
He believed in force, and the 'survival of the fittest' in domestic as well as foreign politics William was not lacking in intelligence, but he did lack stability, disguising his deep insecurities by swagger and tough talk.
He frequently fell into depressions and hysterics William's personal instability was reflected in vacillations of policy.
His actions, at home as well as abroad, lacked guidance, and therefore often bewildered or infuriated public opinion. He was not so much concerned with gaining specific objectives, as had been the case with Bismarck, as with asserting his will.
This trait in the ruler of the leading Continental power was one of the main causes of the uneasiness prevailing in Europe at the turn-of-the-century.
Wilhelm was infuriated by his sister's conversion to Greek Orthodoxy ; upon her marriage, he attempted to ban her from entering Germany.
Wilhelm's most contentious relationships were with his British relations. He craved the acceptance of his grandmother, Queen Victoria, and of the rest of her family.
Between and Wilhelm resented his uncle, himself a mere heir to the British throne, treating Wilhelm not as Emperor of Germany, but merely as another nephew.
Edward's wife, the Danish-born Alexandra , first as Princess of Wales and later as Queen, also disliked Wilhelm, never forgetting the Prussian seizure of Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark in the s, as well as being annoyed over Wilhelm's treatment of his mother.
In , Wilhelm hosted a lavish wedding in Berlin for his only daughter, Victoria Louise. Wilhelm's biographer Lamar Cecil identified Wilhelm's "curious but well-developed anti-Semitism", noting that in a friend of Wilhelm "declared that the young Kaiser's dislike of his Hebrew subjects, one rooted in a perception that they possessed an overweening influence in Germany, was so strong that it could not be overcome".
On 2 December , Wilhelm wrote to Field Marshal August von Mackensen , denouncing his own abdication as the "deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a person in history, the Germans have done to themselves Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil!
I believe the best thing would be gas! German foreign policy under Wilhelm II was faced with a number of significant problems. Perhaps the most apparent was that Wilhelm was an impatient man, subjective in his reactions and affected strongly by sentiment and impulse.
He was personally ill-equipped to steer German foreign policy along a rational course. It is now widely recognised that the various spectacular acts which Wilhelm undertook in the international sphere were often partially encouraged by the German foreign policy elite.
There were a number of notorious examples, such as the Kruger telegram of in which Wilhelm congratulated President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic on the suppression of the British Jameson Raid , thus alienating British public opinion.
British public opinion had been quite favourable toward the Kaiser in his first twelve years on the throne, but it turned sour in the late s. During the First World War , he became the central target of British anti-German propaganda and the personification of a hated enemy.
Wilhelm invented and spread fears of a yellow peril trying to interest other European rulers in the perils they faced by invading China; few other leaders paid attention.
Under Wilhelm, Germany invested in strengthening its colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but few became profitable and all were lost during the First World War.
A domestic triumph for Wilhelm was when his daughter Victoria Louise married the Duke of Brunswick in ; this helped heal the rift between the House of Hanover and the House of Hohenzollern , which followed the annexation of Hanover by Prussia in In his first visit to Constantinople in , Wilhelm secured the sale of German-made rifles to the Ottoman Army.
In the face of all the courtesies extended to us here, I feel that I must thank you, in my name as well as that of the Empress, for them, for the hearty reception given us in all the towns and cities we have touched, and particularly for the splendid welcome extended to us by this city of Damascus.
Deeply moved by this imposing spectacle, and likewise by the consciousness of standing on the spot where held sway one of the most chivalrous rulers of all times, the great Sultan Saladin, a knight sans peur et sans reproche, who often taught his adversaries the right conception of knighthood, I seize with joy the opportunity to render thanks, above all to the Sultan Abdul Hamid for his hospitality.
May the Sultan rest assured, and also the three hundred million Mohammedans scattered over the globe and revering in him their caliph, that the German Emperor will be and remain at all times their friend.
On 10 November, Wilhelm went to visit Baalbek before heading to Beirut to board his ship back home on 12 November.
His third visit was on October 15, , as the guest of Sultan Mehmed V. The Boxer rebellion , an anti-western uprising in China, was put down in by an international force of British, French, Russian, Italian, American, Japanese, and German troops.
The Germans, however, forfeited any prestige that they might have gained for their participation by arriving only after the British and Japanese forces had taken Peking , the site of the fiercest fighting.
Moreover, the poor impression left by the German troops' late arrival was made worse by the Kaiser's ill-conceived farewell address, in which he commanded them, in the spirit of the Huns, to be merciless in battle.
The speech was infused with Wilhelm's fiery and chauvinistic rhetoric and clearly expressed his vision of German imperial power.
There were two versions of the speech. The Foreign Office issued an edited version, making sure to omit one particularly incendiary paragraph that they regarded as diplomatically embarrassing.
Great overseas tasks have fallen to the new German Empire, tasks far greater than many of my countrymen expected.
The German Empire has, by its very character, the obligation to assist its citizens if they are being set upon in foreign lands. The tasks that the old Roman Empire of the German nation was unable to accomplish, the new German Empire is in a position to fulfill.
The means that make this possible is our army. It has been built up during thirty years of faithful, peaceful labor, following the principles of my blessed grandfather.
You, too, have received your training in accordance with these principles, and by putting them to the test before the enemy, you should see whether they have proved their worth in you.
Your comrades in the navy have already passed this test; they have shown that the principles of your training are sound, and I am also proud of the praise that your comrades have earned over there from foreign leaders.
It is up to you to emulate them. A great task awaits you: The Chinese have overturned the law of nations; they have mocked the sacredness of the envoy, the duties of hospitality in a way unheard of in world history.
It is all the more outrageous that this crime has been committed by a nation that takes pride in its ancient culture.
Show the old Prussian virtue. Present yourselves as Christians in the cheerful endurance of suffering. May honor and glory follow your banners and arms.
Give the whole world an example of manliness and discipline. You know full well that you are to fight against a cunning, brave, well-armed, and cruel enemy.
When you encounter him, know this: Prisoners will not be taken. Exercise your arms such that for a thousand years no Chinese will dare to look cross-eyed at a German.
Open the way to civilization once and for all! Now you may depart! Should you encounter the enemy, he will be defeated! No quarter will be given! Prisoners will not be taken!
Whoever falls into your hands is forfeited. Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.
One of Wilhelm's diplomatic blunders sparked the Moroccan Crisis of , when he made a spectacular visit to Tangier , in Morocco on March 31, He conferred with representatives of Sultan Abdelaziz of Morocco.
The Kaiser declared he had come to support the sovereignty of the Sultan—a statement which amounted to a provocative challenge to French influence in Morocco.
The Sultan subsequently rejected a set of French-proposed governmental reforms and issued invitations to major world powers to a conference which would advise him on necessary reforms.
The Kaiser's presence was seen as an assertion of German interests in Morocco, in opposition to those of France. In his speech, he even made remarks in favour of Moroccan independence, and this led to friction with France, which had expanding colonial interests in Morocco, and to the Algeciras Conference , which served largely to further isolate Germany in Europe.
Wilhelm's most damaging personal blunder cost him much of his prestige and power and had a far greater impact in Germany than overseas. Wilhelm had seen the interview as an opportunity to promote his views and ideas on Anglo-German friendship, but due to his emotional outbursts during the course of the interview, he ended up further alienating not only the British, but also the French, Russians, and Japanese.
He implied, among other things, that the Germans cared nothing for the British; that the French and Russians had attempted to incite Germany to intervene in the Second Boer War ; and that the German naval buildup was targeted against the Japanese, not Britain.
One memorable quotation from the interview was, "You English are mad, mad, mad as March hares. Wilhelm kept a very low profile for many months after the Daily Telegraph fiasco, but later exacted his revenge by forcing the resignation of the chancellor, Prince Bülow, who had abandoned the Emperor to public scorn by not having the transcript edited before its German publication.
He lost much of the influence he had previously exercised in domestic and foreign policy. Nothing Wilhelm did in the international arena was of more influence than his decision to pursue a policy of massive naval construction.
A powerful navy was Wilhelm's pet project. He had inherited from his mother a love of the British Royal Navy , which was at that time the world's largest.
He once confided to his uncle, the Prince of Wales , that his dream was to have a "fleet of my own some day".
Wilhelm's frustration over his fleet's poor showing at the Fleet Review at his grandmother Queen Victoria 's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, combined with his inability to exert German influence in South Africa following the dispatch of the Kruger telegram , led to Wilhelm taking definitive steps toward the construction of a fleet to rival that of his British cousins.
Wilhelm was fortunate to be able to call on the services of the dynamic naval officer Alfred von Tirpitz , whom he appointed to the head of the Imperial Naval Office in The new admiral had conceived of what came to be known as the "Risk Theory" or the Tirpitz Plan , by which Germany could force Britain to accede to German demands in the international arena through the threat posed by a powerful battlefleet concentrated in the North Sea.
Naval expansion under the Fleet Acts eventually led to severe financial strains in Germany by , as by Wilhelm had committed his navy to construction of the much larger, more expensive dreadnought type of battleship.
In Wilhelm reorganised top level control of the navy by creating a Naval Cabinet Marine-Kabinett equivalent to the German Imperial Military Cabinet which had previously functioned in the same capacity for both the army and navy.
The Head of the Naval Cabinet was responsible for promotions, appointments, administration, and issuing orders to naval forces.
Captain Gustav von Senden-Bibran was appointed as the first head and remained so until The existing Imperial admiralty was abolished, and its responsibilities divided between two organisations.
A new position was created, equivalent to the supreme commander of the army: Vice-Admiral Max von der Goltz was appointed in and remained in post until Construction and maintenance of ships and obtaining supplies was the responsibility of the State Secretary of the Imperial Navy Office Reichsmarineamt , responsible to the Imperial Chancellor and advising the Reichstag on naval matters.
Each of these three heads of department reported separately to Wilhelm. In addition to the expansion of the fleet, the Kiel Canal was opened in , enabling faster movements between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Historians typically argue that Wilhelm was largely confined to ceremonial duties during the war--there were innumerable parades to review and honours to award.
Wilhelm was a friend of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria , and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June Wilhelm offered to support Austria-Hungary in crushing the Black Hand , the secret organization that had plotted the killing, and even sanctioned the use of force by Austria against the perceived source of the movement— Serbia this is often called "the blank cheque".
He wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on 6 July Wilhelm made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram, and when the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to Serbia, he hurried back to Berlin.
He reached Berlin on 28 July, read a copy of the Serbian reply, and wrote on it:. A brilliant solution—and in barely 48 hours!
This is more than could have been expected. A great moral victory for Vienna; but with it every pretext for war falls to the ground, and [the Ambassador] Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade.
On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation. Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the year-old Franz Joseph I of Austria to sign a declaration of war against Serbia.
As a direct consequence, Russia began a general mobilization to attack Austria in defense of Serbia. On the night of 30 July, when handed a document stating that Russia would not cancel its mobilization, Wilhelm wrote a lengthy commentary containing these observations:.
For I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves—knowing that our treaty obligations compel us to support Austria—to use the Austro-Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us Our dilemma over keeping faith with the old and honourable Emperor has been exploited to create a situation which gives England the excuse she has been seeking to annihilate us with a spurious appearance of justice on the pretext that she is helping France and maintaining the well-known Balance of Power in Europe, i.
More recent British authors state that Wilhelm II really declared, "Ruthlessness and weakness will start the most terrifying war of the world, whose purpose is to destroy Germany.
Because there can no longer be any doubts, England, France and Russia have conspired themselves together to fight an annihilation war against us".
When it became clear that Germany would experience a war on two fronts and that Britain would enter the war if Germany attacked France through neutral Belgium, the panic-stricken Wilhelm attempted to redirect the main attack against Russia.
When Helmuth von Moltke the younger who had chosen the old plan from , made by General von Schlieffen for the possibility of German war on two fronts told him that this was impossible, Wilhelm said: If my grandmother had been alive, she would never have allowed it.
The plan supposed that it would take a long time before Russia was ready for war. At the border between France and Germany, an attack at this more southern part of France could be stopped by the French fortress along the border.
However, Wilhelm II stopped any invasion of the Netherlands. Wilhelm's role in wartime was one of ever-decreasing power as he increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties.
The high command continued with its strategy even when it was clear that the Schlieffen plan had failed.
Nevertheless, Wilhelm still retained the ultimate authority in matters of political appointment, and it was only after his consent had been gained that major changes to the high command could be effected.
Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn. In , Hindenburg and Ludendorff decided that Bethman-Hollweg was no longer acceptable to them as Chancellor and called upon the Kaiser to appoint somebody else.
When asked whom they would accept, Ludendorff recommended Georg Michaelis , a nonentity whom he barely knew. The Kaiser did not know Michaelis, but accepted the suggestion.
Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium , when the uprisings in Berlin and other centres took him by surprise in late Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine , the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him.
After the outbreak of the German Revolution , Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate. Up to that point, he accepted that he would likely have to give up the imperial crown, but still hoped to retain the Prussian kingship.
However, this was impossible under the imperial constitution. While Wilhelm thought he ruled as emperor in a personal union with Prussia, the constitution actually tied the imperial crown to the Prussian crown, meaning that Wilhelm could not renounce one crown without renouncing the other.
Wilhelm's hopes of retaining at least one of his crowns was revealed as unrealistic when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the face of growing revolutionary unrest, Chancellor Prince Max of Baden announced Wilhelm's abdication of both titles on 9 November Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it became clear that only Friedrich Ebert , leader of the SPD , could effectively exert control.
Later that day, one of Ebert's secretaries of state ministers , Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann , proclaimed Germany a republic. Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff's replacement, General Wilhelm Groener , had informed him that the officers and men of the army would march back in good order under Paul von Hindenburg 's command, but would certainly not fight for Wilhelm's throne on the home front.
The monarchy's last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist , was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown.
The fact that the High Command might one day abandon the Kaiser had been foreseen in December , when Wilhelm had visited Otto von Bismarck for the last time.
Bismarck had again warned the Kaiser about the increasing influence of militarists, especially of the admirals who were pushing for the construction of a battle fleet.
Bismarck's last warning had been:. Your Majesty, so long as you have this present officer corps, you can do as you please.
But when this is no longer the case, it will be very different for you. Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great ; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this.
On 10 November, Wilhelm crossed the border by train and went into exile in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the war. King George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as "the greatest criminal in history", but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George 's proposal to "hang the Kaiser".
President Woodrow Wilson of the United States opposed extradition, arguing that prosecuting Wilhelm would destabilize international order and lose the peace.
Wilhelm first settled in Amerongen , where on 28 November he issued a belated statement of abdication from both the Prussian and imperial thrones, thus formally ending the Hohenzollerns' year rule over Prussia.
Accepting the reality that he had lost both of his crowns for good, he gave up his rights to "the throne of Prussia and to the German Imperial throne connected therewith.
The Weimar Republic allowed Wilhelm to remove twenty-three railway wagons of furniture, twenty-seven containing packages of all sorts, one bearing a car and another a boat, from the New Palace at Potsdam.
Bereits seit dem Oktober hielt sich der Kaiser im deutschen Hauptquartier im belgischen Spa auf. Er ging von dort ins Exil in die nahen Niederlande, wo ihm Königin Wilhelmina Asyl gewährte und die von den Entente-Mächten verlangte Auslieferung als Kriegsverbrecher ablehnte.
Vom niederländischen Doorn aus bemühte sich Wilhelm II. Eng verbunden mit diesem Anspruch war die militärische Aufrüstung des Kaiserreichs sowie die Forcierung der Kolonialpolitik in Afrika und der Südsee.
Der wirtschaftliche Aufschwung Deutschlands während Wilhelms Herrschaft, verbunden mit technologischem, naturwissenschaftlichem und industriellem Fortschritt, begünstigte eine auch vom Kaiser mitgetragene, allgemein verbreitete Technik- und Fortschrittsgläubigkeit.
Innenpolitisch setzte er die für ihre Zeit als modern und fortschrittlich geltende Sozialpolitik Bismarcks fort und erweiterte sie.
Er setzte sich für die Abschaffung des Sozialistengesetzes ein und suchte, teilweise erfolglos, den Ausgleich zwischen ethnischen und politischen Minderheiten.
Auch war seine Amtszeit von politischen Machtkämpfen zwischen den einzelnen Parteien geprägt, die es den amtierenden Kanzlern schwer machten, längerfristig im Amt zu bleiben.
So wurden im Kampf zwischen dem sogenannten nationalliberal-konservativen Kartell beziehungsweise dem Bülow-Block und den Sozialdemokraten fünf von sieben Kanzlern unter kritischem Mitwirken des Reichstags vom Kaiser entlassen.
Während des Ersten Weltkriegs von bis wurde Wilhelms strategische und taktische Unfähigkeit offenbar. Ab enthielt er sich zunehmend relevanter politischer Entscheidungen und gab die Führung des Reiches faktisch in die Hände der Obersten Heeresleitung , namentlich in die der Generale von Hindenburg und Ludendorff , die die konstitutionelle Monarchie während der letzten Kriegsjahre mit starken Zügen einer Militärdiktatur versahen.
Etwa 10 Millionen Menschen waren auf den Schlachtfeldern gefallen. Bei der Geburt des Prinzen im Berliner Kronprinzenpalais waren, wie bei Thronfolgergeburten üblich, hohe Beamte anwesend, um die Geburt zu bezeugen.
Doch es gab Komplikationen: Eduard Arnold Martin , und durch das couragierte Eingreifen einer Hebamme, die das scheinbar leblose Baby ganz gegen das Protokoll mit einem nassen Handtuch schlug.
Professor Martin musste die seit Stunden verschleppte Geburt voranbringen und wendete dafür das in dieser Anwendung neuartige Narkosemittel Chloroform an.
Der Nabelschnurpuls war fast nicht mehr fühlbar, daher musste der Geburtsvorgang beschleunigt werden. Es gelang Martin noch, den linken Arm zu wenden und parallel zum Torso zu legen, um dann mit kräftigem Zug den Kopf mit dem noch hochgeschlagenen rechten Arm zu entbinden.
Infolge der stundenlangen fruchtlosen Wehen und der dann zügig zu bewerkstelligenden Notentbindung ein Kaiserschnitt hatte damals häufig den Tod der Mutter zur Folge, was in diesem Falle völlig indiskutabel war überlebte der Säugling zwar, aber es kam zu einer linksseitigen Armplexus-Lähmung.
Einige Tage danach bemerkte man, dass das Kind diesen Arm nicht bewegen konnte. Der Arm blieb fortan in seiner Entwicklung deutlich zurück und war im Erwachsenenalter deutlich kürzer als der rechte und nur eingeschränkt beweglich.
Es bleibt bis heute umstritten, ob Prof. Martin dem Kind das Leben rettete oder die Behinderung zu verantworten hatte.
Keinen gesunden Thronfolger geboren zu haben, empfand Victoria als persönliches Versagen, und sie war nur schwer bereit, die Behinderung des Sohnes zu akzeptieren.
Kaum etwas blieb unversucht, seine Behinderung zu beheben. Legendär sind Kuren wie das Einnähen des kranken Armes in ein frisch geschlachtetes Kaninchen oder Metallgerüste, die Wilhelm umgeschnallt wurden, um seine Haltung zu verbessern.
Auf Fotografien versuchte man, die körperliche Behinderung dadurch zu kaschieren, dass der linke Arm auf dem Säbelkorb ruhte oder im Ärmel versteckt wurde.
Wie im Hochadel üblich, traten seine Eltern als unmittelbare Erzieher ganz hinter seinem calvinistischen Lehrer Georg Ernst Hinzpeter zurück.
Mit zehn Jahren, im damals üblichen Kadettenalter , trat er beim 1. Als Zwölfjähriger wurde er mit der Gründung des Deutschen Kaiserreiches nach dem Sieg über Frankreich auch zweiter Anwärter auf den deutschen Kaiserthron.
Nach dem Abitur am Friedrichsgymnasium in Kassel trat er am 9. Februar seinen wirklichen Militärdienst bei seinem Regiment, der 6. Kompanie unter Hauptmann von Petersdorff, an.
Bereits in diesen Jahren bildete sich bei ihm ein Verständnis seiner monarchischen Rolle, das den liberal -konstitutionellen Vorstellungen seiner Eltern zuwiderlief.
Seine folgenden Lebensstationen sind unter dem Aspekt einer Erziehung zum Monarchen zu sehen: Er sollte möglichst vielerlei Erfahrungen sammeln, erhielt aber in keinem Feld, nicht einmal im militärischen, die Chance, sich beruflich solide einzuarbeiten.
Bis war er dann wechselnden Regimentern zugeordnet, dem 1. Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiment , wurde schnell bis zum Generalmajor befördert und zuletzt Kommandeur der 2.
Der Militärdienst wurde immer wieder durch Beurlaubungen unterbrochen, damit er sich auch soweit möglich mit der zivilen Verwaltung vertraut machen konnte.
Sehr gründlich konnte dies nicht geschehen, denn immer mehr Eile war geboten: Von diesem Vertrauen hing nach der Reichsverfassung der Reichskanzler auch ab, nicht vom Vertrauen des Reichstags.
Bismarck baute selbstbewusst darauf, auch den dritten Kaiser lenken zu können. Das Jahr ging als Dreikaiserjahr in die Geschichte ein.
Aussagen wie dieses Zitat und die Februarerlasse Wilhelms weckten in den ersten Jahren seiner Regentschaft in der Arbeiterschaft zeitweilig Hoffnungen auf einen sozialen Wandel im Reich.
Allerdings folgten seinen sozialen Reformen keine strukturellen Veränderungen im Reich. Im Gegenteil, er baute seinen politischen Einfluss noch aus und lehnte eine Demokratisierung der Verfassung ab.
Nach wie vor wurde die Regierung nicht vom Reichstag gewählt, sondern vom Kaiser ohne Berücksichtigung der parlamentarischen Verhältnisse bestimmt oder entlassen.
Noch während Bismarcks Kanzlerschaft, am Er hoffte, durch seine Reformen die Sympathien für die trotz der Sozialistengesetze erstarkte Sozialdemokratie zu schwächen und durch die Aufhebung des repressiven Sozialistengesetzes der von SAP in SPD umbenannten Partei ihren Märtyrerbonus zu nehmen.
Obwohl sie den Fortschritt der im Arbeitsschutzgesetz zusammengefassten Reformen sahen, stimmten sie im Reichstag dagegen. Der Kanzler solle am Nachmittag ins Schloss kommen und sein Abschiedsgesuch mitbringen.
Dieses wurde dem Kaiser aber erst im Verlauf des nächsten Tages durch einen Boten überbracht. Deren dritter Band, in dem Bismarck seine Entlassung darstellte, wurde wegen seiner politischen Brisanz erst veröffentlicht.
Der Kaiser war gegen ein Verletzen des letztgenannten Paktes, während Bismarck den Rückversicherungsvertrag seinerzeit für unbedingt notwendig gehalten hatte.
Jetzt ging es um seine Verlängerung. Von der Öffentlichkeit unbemerkt es handelte sich um einen Geheimvertrag und von Caprivi hingenommen, wurde der auslaufende Rückversicherungsvertrag vom Deutschen Reich bewusst nicht erneuert.
In Russland nahm man realistischerweise einen deutschen Kurswechsel an und begann sich Frankreich anzunähern. Caprivis Kanzlerzeit war durch entschiedene Englandfreundlichkeit geprägt.
Innenpolitisch war er einer der Hauptverantwortlichen für den Wandel des Deutschen Reiches von der Agrarwirtschaft zur industriellen Exportwirtschaft.
Als Partei des politischen Katholizismus hatte sich im Jahr die Deutsche Zentrumspartei formiert. Der Kaiser erkannte die Ernsthaftigkeit dieser Probleme und zählte sie zu seinen Hauptaufgaben.
Am besten gelang die Integrationspolitik gegenüber den Katholiken. Sie waren zuvor durch den Bismarckschen Kulturkampf benachteiligt und an der Teilnahme am politischen Leben sowie an der freien Ausübung ihrer Religion gehindert worden.
Schon zu seiner Prinzenzeit war Wilhelm gegen diese Praktiken und befürwortete die Beendigung des Kulturkampfes.
Um die Einigkeit zwischen Protestanten und Katholiken im Reich zu verbessern, zahlte das Reich die den Opfern vorenthaltenen Gelder zurück, hob allerdings nicht alle gefassten Beschlüsse und Gesetze aus dem vorangegangenen Kulturkampf wieder auf.
In der Provinz Posen stellten die Polen die Mehrheit. Seit der Bismarckzeit versuchte der Staat, die hier lebenden Polen zu germanisieren , was allerdings misslang und in offenen Protest mündete.
Einer der umstrittensten Bereiche in der Einordnung der politischen Meinung des Kaisers ist seine Beziehung zum Judentum und zum Antisemitismus.
Die Juden waren im gegründeten Deutschen Reich freie und gleiche Bürger geworden. Die Einschränkungen, die sie, von Land zu Land unterschiedlich, teils zu Schutzbefohlenen eines Herrschers machten und ihnen wirtschaftliche Beschränkungen auferlegten oder ihnen bestimmte Berufsverbote erteilten, waren mit der Reichsgründung für ganz Deutschland einheitlich aufgehoben worden.
Auch der Dienst bei Militär, in Schulen oder der Justiz stand ihnen jetzt offen. Die Einschätzungen der Historiker gehen hier weit auseinander:.
Infolge der Reichstagswahl zogen zum ersten Mal Vertreter antisemitischer Parteien in den Reichstag ein. Die Wahl wurde in Einmannwahlkreisen mit absolutem Mehrheitswahlrecht durchgeführt.
Juden organisierten sich nicht in einer eigenen Partei. Das Wahlsystem grenzte aber auch politische Minderheiten nicht aus. Die Zahl ihrer Abgeordneten überschritt aber nie die Zahl der Abgeordneten aus den Parteien der ethnischen Minderheiten.
Trotz dieser Unterstützung gibt es von Wilhelm II. Caprivi setzte einen weiteren von Bismarck verwehrten Wunsch Wilhelms durch, die progressive Einkommensteuer , die höhere Einkommen stärker belastete: Im darauf folgenden Wahlkampf siegten die Befürworter der wilhelminischen Politik aus der Konservativen und Nationalliberalen Partei.
Auch die gegen Caprivis Widerstand von Alfred von Tirpitz propagierte Aufrüstung der Kaiserlichen Marine , im Volk durchaus populär, erkennbar etwa am allgegenwärtigen Matrosenanzug für Knaben, wurde in der Folgezeit von Wilhelm gefördert.
Im Januar kam es zu einem Aussöhnungstreffen mit Otto von Bismarck. Als Bismarck den geheimen Rückversicherungsvertrag mit Russland in der Presse veröffentlichte, wollte Wilhelm diesen aber in der ersten Erregung wegen Landesverrats verhaften und in die Zitadelle Spandau verbringen lassen.
Oktober wurde Caprivi entlassen. Er sollte anders als seine beiden Vorgänger keinen Führungsehrgeiz entwickeln.
In seinen Memoiren betonte Wilhelm, dass er gegen die Depesche gewesen sei, aber vom Kanzler Hohenlohe zur Unterschrift genötigt worden sei.
Das Verhältnis zu Frankreich wurde jedenfalls nicht verbessert, England nun auch durch die Flottenpolitik herausgefordert und Russland auf dem Balkan nicht gegen die Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie unterstützt.
Wilhelm vertraute Bülow, der ihm nachhaltig zu schmeicheln wusste, lange, bis zur Daily-Telegraph-Affäre und den Eulenburg-Prozessen.
April veränderte sich das europäische Machtgefüge fundamental. Mit dem englisch-französischen Kolonialausgleich war die Freihandelspolitik offenbar gescheitert.
Petersburg nach dem Doggerbank-Zwischenfall Oktober wurde Russland als ein möglicher Partner weiter interessant. Frankreich sollte erst nach Abschluss des Vertrages von dem Bündnis in Kenntnis gesetzt werden.
Die russische Regierung widersetzte sich aber einem solchen Bündnis. Frankreich sollte einbezogen werden. Der Vertrag von Björkö wurde allerdings schon von Russland für gegenstandslos erklärt, weil er mit der französisch-russischen Annäherung, die inzwischen stattgefunden hatte, nicht vereinbar war.
Bismarck war ein Meister darin gewesen, seine Politik medial zu flankieren. Ein besonders eklatantes Beispiel hatte der Kaiser mit der bereits am Juli in Bremerhaven gehaltenen Hunnenrede gegeben.
Dies wurde in England als Ärgernis empfunden: Inzwischen hatte die öffentliche Meinung begonnen, den Kaiser grundsätzlich kritisch zu sehen, und eine Kampagne schadete ihm konkret: Zu besonders harten Auseinandersetzungen führte seine Enthüllung, dass Philipp zu Eulenburg , ein enger Freund und Berater des Kaisers, homosexuell sei was damals noch strafbar war und einen Meineid geleistet habe, als er dies leugnete.
Es folgten drei Sensationsprozesse gegen Eulenburg, die trotz Freisprüchen das Ansehen des Kaisers beschädigten. Sozialdemokraten und Zentrumspartei , die diesen Versuch in seinen Grundsätzen unterstützen, verweigerten trotzdem die Zusammenarbeit mit Bülow.
Sie warfen ihm Prinzipienlosigkeit vor, da er erst kurz zuvor in Zusammenarbeit mit den Konservativen neue Repressalien gegen die polnische Minderheit durchgesetzt hatte.
Die Germanisierungspolitik wurde auf Betreiben Kaiser Wilhelms eingeschränkt. Dass Bülow nun aber, um sich die Loyalität der Konservativen Partei zu sichern, die Enteignung von polnischen Gütern erleichterte, ignorierte der Kaiser zunächst, um die stabile Parlamentsmehrheit nicht zu gefährden.
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