Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert was the oldest son of Crown Prince Friedrich and Victoria, the oldest child of England’s Queen Victoria. After his grandfather, Wilhelm I, died, his father ruled for 88 days before dying of cancer. In 1890, Wilhelm II became the Kaiser at age 29. He immediately forced Otto von Bismarck to resign as chancellor. His administration of internal affairs transformed Germany from an agricultural to a major industrial nation. Foreign policy with existing world powers, however, crumbled under Wilhelm II’s reign. After several conflicts with France, England, and Russia, Germany’s role in Austria-Hungary eventually escalated into World War I. Instead of using his power to avoid conflict, Wilhelm II encouraged his generals’ grand war plans, which ruled out any chance for peace. Germany’s World War I defeat made the demise of the German monarchy inevitable. To avoid captivity and even death, Wilhelm II was forced to seek political asylum in the Netherlands until his death in 1941.
Historic Events in the Life of Wilhelm II
1859 – Wilhelm II born on January 22, in Potsdam, near Berlin.
1889 – Adolf Hitler born in Austria.
1890 – Kaiser Wilhelm II accedes with aspirations for German world role. Otto von Bismarck fired.
1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated. World War I begins with Russia mobilizing its troops against Germany.
1918 – Germany signs armistice; Wilhelm II flees the country. Weimar Republic created.
1941 – Wilhelm II dies on June 4, in Doorn, The Netherlands.