The Kaiser Wilhelm Moment


Kaiser Wilhelm II.

At lunch today, my co-worker talked about a book on French painters she had recently acquired. She was quite enthusiatic and said she believed she might have found her special, niche interest. “See”, I replied, “that might have been your Kaiser Wilhelm moment!”

I dubbed it that because I have been reading the monumental biography of the last German emperor since a couple of weeks, something that can probably be described as a very niche, almost nerd interest. The book is scholarly literature and yet it’s easy to read and rather intriguing. The author, John C.G. Röhl, wrote several thousand pages (he spent 17 years) on every detail of Wilhelm’s life. I was first acquainted with this work when I wrote my bachelor thesis on Wilhelm’s mother and grandmother five years ago and have been wanting to read Wilhelm’s biography ever since.

So now my before bed literature is about Wilhelm’s “Civil-Erzieher” (civil educator) and the (then) prince becoming friends with a Jewish boy (who wrote to his parents about that, “The Prince shook my hand and only mine, and none of the others!”) and the fact that he studied Greek for ages but French only two hours per week.The reason I find this so interesting is certainly that it is all about the personal and psychological factors that heavily influence world politics when power is passed on by heritage instead of ability. So if you ever need a strong argument against the monarchy, Wilhelm II.’s biography is your source.


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