Kaiser Wilhelm II and The First World War Essay
Kaiser Wilhelm II and The First World War
The British postcard illustrates Kaiser Wilhelm II in a bath, where he is about to grab a bar of soap labelled “Europe”, with a caption quoting “He won’t be happy till he gets it.” This suggests he is willing to use force to capture Europe. Wilhelm is wearing a military helmet and has a greedy expression on his face, which gives us the impression he is willing to fight for what he wants.
Sources B and C both differ, but both of them agree that Wilhelm’s attitude towards the war was very violent. In source B, Wilhelm’s speech seems to be taken over by his emotions: anger, aggression, passion and lots of determination. He refers to certain phrases such as “take no prisoners”, “must be destroyed” and “ruthless violence.” Words such as these show us that he wants trouble. However in source C, there is more talk of peace. It seems to be a more subdued and more thoughtful speech. “I was always a supporter of peace.” But then he goes on to say how peace “has its limits.” And he can “no longer just look on, but must draw the sword!” This giving the final conclusion that Kaisers attitude towards the war has not changed since 1900 although he has become more diplomatic.
This postcard may be biased, as the British whom were about to go to war with him produced it. Britain wanted to portray him in as much negative light as possible, therefore this postcard might not be truthful. But using my own knowledge, I know that Kaiser Wilhelm II was an aggressive man who came from an aggressive country and to control Europe was his sole ambition. Also, Britain was aware of Wilhelm’s objectives and to some extent holds him responsible for the Moroccan Crises. They therefore have a good reason to portray him in this way.
“The Kaiser was a warmonger and caused the Great War.” The evidence given in the sources supports this statement and also disagrees with it. Source A clearly supports this view. The cartoon shows Wilhelm greedily snatching Europe, along with the war helmet, which indicates war. Source B backs this statement too. There is no sign of peaceful man in his speech. In this he says he wants Germans to acquire a similar reputation as Attila’s Huns did in the fifth century. Attila was the King of the German tribe the Huns who ravaged Eastern Europe. But there is talk of peace in his later speech (1913), although this hopeful thought is dampened by the indications of war “Must draw the sword.” However, using my own knowledge I know that the Great War was not only the fault of Wilhelm’s, there was many other reasons.
In my opinion, rivalries were the main factor, which brought about the First World War. Without rivalries, no one would have a cause to start a war. There were many rivalries; Britain and Germany; France and Germany; Austria-Hungary and Russia and Serbia and Austria. These rivalries helped to cause war between the powers of Europe because they all wanted to fight for one reason or another. Another factor was alliances. With alliances, everyone was dragged into war, whether they liked it or not. In this case, it couldn’t be avoided. And lastly, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was the catalyst. This gave Austria a perfect opportunity to declare war on Serbia. With this, Austria and Serbia were at war along with their allies. It caused great destruction as most countries were involved. This is proof that the Kaiser did not cause the Great War, as you need two countries to have a war. Cause the war he did not, but a warmonger he may be.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 September 2017
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