Churchill’s interest in military affairs continued throughout his life. This 1909 photograph shows him attending German Army maneuvers with Kaiser Wilhelm. Churchill explained the Kaiser’s restlessness: “All he wished was to feel like Napoleon, and be like him without having had to fight his battles…If you are the summit of a volcano, the least you can do is to smoke. So he smoked, a pillar of cloud by day and the gleam of fire by night, to all who gazed from afar; and slowly and surely these perturbed observers gathered and joined themselves together for mutual protection.”
Yet, Churchill observed with an eagle eye Germany’s ever increasing military preparations. Through their mutual friend, Sir Ernest Cassel, Churchill and Kaiser Wilhelm II even exchanged naval laws and other important military details in the days leading to WWI.
This is against the words of King Edward VII who noted that Churchill should not be “too communicative and frank with his nephew”, the Kaiser.
Kaiser Wilhelm II (aka Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert von Preußen; 1859-1941) was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 1888 to 1918. He was the eldest grandchild of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe. Crowned in 1888, he dismissed ChancellorOtto von Bismarck in 1890 and launched Germany on a bellicose “New Course” in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of 1914 that led in a matter of days to WW1.
He was bon on 27 Jan 1859 in Berlin to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future Frederick III) and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria. At the time of his birth, his great-uncle Frederick William IV was king of Prussia, and his grandfather and namesake Wilhelm was acting as Regent. He was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, but more importantly, as the first son of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Wilhelm was from 1861 second in the line of succession to Prussia, and also, after 1871, to the newly created German Empire. A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb’s Palsy, which he tried with some success to conceal. In many photos he carries a pair of white gloves in his left hand to make the arm seem longer, holds his left hand with his right, or has his arm on the hilt of a sword or holding a cane to give the effect of a useful limb posed at a dignified angle. His left arm was about 15 cm shorter than the right. Historians have suggested that this disability affected his emotional development. Read more.
Kaiser Wilhelm monument in Porta Westfalica, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Northwestern Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia (1859-1941) was the last German Emperor, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 1888-1918. He was the eldest grandchild of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe.