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Wilhelm II; the Emperor who lost interest

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Wilhelm II; the Emperor who lost interest Wilhelm II became emperor of the German Reich 1888 and when Bismarck resigned as the German chancellor in 1890, all power was transferred to the new Kaiser. Wilhelm II was a young man determined to force his will through whenever he felt it was necessary. In this essay I am going to discuss to what extent he used this newly gained power and whether he ruled Germany monocratically or if the Reich was ruled by the chancellors. First I am going to look at Wilhelm II as a personal ruler, then as a shadow emperor and at last I will try to come up with a conclusion. Wilhelm II was a personal ruler; the constitution clearly stated that everything had to go through the Kaiser. The German constitution 1871 says that the Kaiser had: the right to dismiss and appoint the chancellor and ministers, dissolve the Reichstag, full control over foreign affairs and had the final say in disputes over the interpretation of the Constitution. ...read more.


R�hl states that these were the times that the Kaiser's personality had the most influence on the policy making, because, who wants to upset the emperor? However, some historians say that Wilhelm II simply lacked the ability to direct policy, command the army or influence the real decision-makers. Another important historian named Hans-Ulrich Wehler argued that after the departure of Bismarck a power vacuum existed which Wilhelm II was unable to fill. Wehler says that "Wilhelm reigned but did not rule." He contends that real influence was in the hands of powerful elite groups who pulled the strings behind the scenes. This can for example be shown in 1909, 1911 and 1914 when the Foreign Office withheld important reports from the Kaiser. Wilhelm II was also known as the Reisekaiser (travelling emperor) which also strengthens the belief that some decisions were made without the emperor's notice. You can also see that the Kaiser lost interest in politics the further down his reign we go. ...read more.


His chancellors were also easy to control so that they did not get to much power of their own. Then something happened; Wilhelm II lost interest somehow and gave the new chancellor B�low more independence than the former chancellors. B�low was also allowed to sign reports that the Kaiser did not have time to look at which even more shows the fall of Wilhelm II as a personal ruler. The next chancellor was not even selected by the Kaiser; instead it was B�low who had put Bethmann's name forward as his successor. Therefore we can say that in the early period of the Wilhelmine age the Kaiser ruled Germany monocratically without letting anyone do anything without his knowledge. This changed and Wilhelm II gave more and more power to his chancellors and let them do a lot of the decision making. So while the chancellors were ruling Germany the Kaiser was on the royal yacht Hohenzollern on a cruise to the North Sea with the imperial flag fluttering in the breeze showing that the Emperor Wilhelm II was on board. ?? ?? ?? ?? 24/09-07 ...read more.

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