Die Psychologie des Kaiser Wilhelm II - The Psychology Of Kaiser Wilhelm II

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Die Psychologie des Kaiser Wilhelm II 

Kaiser Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany from 1888 to 1918, is one of the most controversial figures of 20th Century European history.

Erzherzog von Österreich
Franz Ferdinand
Some have blamed Wilhelm II as the primary cause of The First World War because of the German naval military build-up, and his 'carte blanche' endorsement of the Austrians when a Serbian nationalist assassinated Erzherzog von Österreich Franz Ferdinand
The Germans backed the Austrians, and because the Russians backed the Serbians, Germany was forced to declare war on Russia as well.

Alfred Graf Schlieffen
Germany, in accordance with the Schlieffen Plan, moved through Belgium (ignoring Belgium's neutrality) and attacked France, - France being the supposed 'weaker' enemy.
With France in the war, Britain felt obligated to defend France because of previous treatise. Thus, The First World War commenced after these declarations of war.
Secondly, scholars tend to argue that the Kaiser may have had 'narcissistic personality disorder', which is a condition in which people have an 'inflated sense of self-importance' and an 'extreme preoccupation with themselves' - (probably understandable with an individual always referred to as 'Allerhöchste' and 'Obersten Kriegsherrn').
However, his memoirs, and many testimonies written about the Kaiser reveal that he more likely had 'histrionic personality disorder', which is a condition in which people act in a very emotional and dramatic way, that draws attention to themselves, and they constantly seek reassurance or approval.
The Kaiser may have also displayed some symptoms of 'borderline personality disorder' as well, which is a common condition.
'Histrionic personality disorder' is commonly misdiagnosed to be 'narcissism', so this error is understandable.
However, from a historical perspective, the difference is extremely important.
This is because even though his actions, as a result of the disorder, may have 'contributed' directly to the deterioration of Anglo-German relations before the First World War, the Kaiser, in the deepest layers of his personality wished that they [Germany and Britain] would live together in friendship and peace.
In this case, Kaiser Wilhelm II's actions during his reign are in concert with a psychological context, and psycho-history remains useful in determining causation.
Therefore, bearing in mind his psychological shortcomings, it seems to follow that the Kaiser should not bear full responsibility for The First World War because first, he did not wish for war, second because his advisers were largely responsible for provoking the war, and third because other nations' politicians and royalty largely mis-attributed his actions, and did not do all they could to prevent the war.
On the other hand, the Kaiser, despite his shortcomings, did everything within his power to enter into treaties and negotiations for peace.
Mental health professionals define 'histrionic disorder' as 'a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.'
For diagnosis, the person must exhibit five or more of the following traits: (1) he or she is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the centre of attention; (2) interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behaviour;
(3) he or she displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions; (4) he or she consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to themselves; (5) he or she has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail; (6) he or she shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion; (7) he or she is suggestible and easily influenced by others; and (8) he or she considers relationships more intimate than they actually are.
Most, if not all, of these characteristics describe Kaiser Wilhelm II.
However, a description of his childhood is necessary to obtain a full psycho-history.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The Kaiser's Childhood

The Future Kaiser with
Queen-Empress Victoria
Kaiser Wilhelm II was born in Potsdam, Germany, on January 27, 1859, the son of Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia (1831-88) and Princess Victoria (1840-1901), the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901).
The future monarch was Queen Victoria's first-born grandchild, and was genuinely fond of her; in fact, he was holding her in his arms when she died.
His ties to Britain through its royal family would play an important part in his later political manoeuvring.
Wilhelm’s childhood was shaped by two events, one medical and one political.
His birth had been traumatic; in the course of a complicated delivery, the doctor permanently damaged Wilhelm’s left arm.
In addition to its smaller size, the arm was useless for such ordinary tasks as cutting  food with a knife at mealtime.
When the Kaiser was born, he probably suffered minimal brain damage because of the administration of chloroform and ergotamine, or because of the foetal asphyxia.
With minimal brain damage, children are 'overly sensitive to stimulation, hyperactive, and have a limited attention span.'
The political event that shaped Wilhelm was the formation of the German Empire under the leadership of Prussia in 1871. 
Wilhelm was now second in line after his father to become an emperor as well as king of Prussia.
Twelve years old at the time, Wilhelm was filled with nationalistic enthusiasm.

Sigmund Freud
His later determination to win a “place in the sun” for Germany had its roots in his childhood.
But to return to the problem of Wilhelm's deformed arm, according to Sigmund Freud, 'it was not the cripple's arm in itself, but the attitude of the proud mother towards it that was the underlying cause of Wilhelm's later disorder.'

Wilhelm as a Boy
The Crown Princess had deprived 'the child of her love because of his affliction' and 'when the child had grown into a mighty man, he proved unequivocally by his actions that he never forgave his mother.'

Friedrich III.
Deutscher Kaiser
und König von Preußen
In addition, his father - Kaiser Frederich - seems to have had limited emotional contact with his son because he was frequently away on trips, depressed, and dealing with political affairs.

Friedrich III., Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen; 18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888) was German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in 1888, the Year of the Three Emperors. Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl, known informally as Fritz, was the only son of Emperor William I, and was raised in his family's tradition of military service. Although celebrated as a young man for his leadership and successes during the Second Schleswig, Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars, he nevertheless professed a hatred of warfare, and was praised by friends and enemies alike for his humane conduct. Following the unification of Germany in 1871 his father, then King of Prussia, became the German Emperor. On William's death at the age of 90 on 9 March 1888, the throne passed to Frederick, who had by then been Crown Prince for 27 years. Frederick was suffering from cancer of the larynx when he died on 15 June 1888, aged 56, following unsuccessful medical treatments for his condition.

Kaiserin von Deutschland
und Königin von Preußen
Because of this, Wilhelm's mother raised him almost completely in the early years of his life. 
Also, because of his arm, he was subjected to numerous processes associated with his arm which produced significant psychological consequences.
He had to put his arm into animal baths.
Essentially, they put his arm into an animal that was recently killed twice a week for several years.

Wilhelm in Uniform
They also tied up his right arm to provoke him to make use of his bad left arm.
However, this method was applied when he was beginning to learn to walk, and Wilhelm II developed violent reactions due to frustration.
He also developed toriticullis, and had to wear a head brace for several years.
Though the issue with his arm produced significant consequences, namely overcompensation, the relationship with his mother ultimately led to the development of the Kaiser's 'personality disorder'. 
Wilhelm became fixated on his mother, in an attempt to win her love.
There are letters, held in the private archive of Vicky’s great grandson Prince Rainer of Hesse, showing the Kaiser’s erotic longing for his mother.
In these letters the young Wilhelm expresses his infatuation with his mother, and he writes to her about a particular dream he keeps having.
In one letter, Wilhelm writes:
“I have been dreaming about your dear soft, warm hands, I am awaiting with impatience the time when I can sit near you and kiss them but pray keep your promise you gave me always to give me alone the soft inside of your hand to kiss, but of course you keep this as a secret for  yourself.”
In another letter, he tells her:
I have again dreamt about you, this time I was alone with you, in your library, when you stretched forth your arms and pulled me down. Then you took off your gloves and laid your hand gently on my lips for me to kiss it...I wish you would do the same when I am in Berlin alone with you in the evening.
It appears from this correspondence that Wilhelm is devoting his sexual energies to his mother, and in particular to part of his mother’s body, her very, very beautiful hands.
In this way he is using his mother as a way of testing out these burgeoning erotic feelings in a way that almost borders on the incestuous.”
His mother did not respond in kind.
Instead she chose to correct her son’s grammar (?), and Wilhelm, not surprisingly, became bitter towards her – and, in some respects, her country - England. 
His hatred worsened in 1888 when a British doctor unsuccessfully attempted to treat his father, the Kaiser Friedrich, for throat cancer – prompting the outburst:
An English doctor crippled my arm and an English doctor is killing my father !” 
Wilhelm, beginning at age 6 was tutored by the 39-year old teacher Georg Hinzpeter.
He stated later that his instructor never uttered a word of praise for his efforts.
As a teenager he was educated at Kassel at the Friedrichsgymnasium and the University of Bonn, where he became a member of Corps Borussia Bonn.
Wilhelm was possessed of a quick intelligence, but unfortunately this was often overshadowed by a cantankerous temper.

As a scion of the Royal house of Hohenzollern, Wilhelm was also exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy.
This had a major impact on him and, in maturity, Wilhelm was seldom to be seen out of uniform.
The hyper-masculine military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame Wilhelm's political ideals as well as his personal relationships.
Wilhelm's relationship with the male members of his family was as interesting as that with his mother.
Crown Prince Frederick was viewed by his son with a deeply felt love and respect.
His father's status as a hero of the wars of unification was largely responsible for the young Wilhelm's attitude, as in the circumstances in which he was raised; close emotional contact between father and son was not encouraged.

Kaiser wilhelm I
Kaiser von Deutschland
und König von Preußen
Later, as he came into contact with the Crown Prince's political opponents, Wilhelm came to adopt more ambivalent feelings toward his father, given the perceived influence of Wilhelm's mother over a figure who should have been possessed of masculine independence and strength.
Wilhelm also idolised his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I, and he was instrumental in later attempts to foster a cult of the first German Emperor as "Wilhelm the Great".
In many ways, Wilhelm was a victim of his inheritance, and of Otto von Bismarck's machinations.
Both sides of his family had suffered from mental illness, and this may help to explain his emotional instability. 

A variety of parent-child relationships may contribute to 'histrionic development'.

Wilhelm in Uniform
The excessive needs may develop in part through an overly eroticized parent-child relationship - this is significant.
The Kaiser's relationship with his mother was indeed very tense.
His mother, though in her letters expressing warmth and love for her first child, admitted later that Wilhelm II was 'mutilated', and for this reason the first years of his life were 'not joyous - I fought against the disappointment and the nagging worries, for his arm embittered my life, and
I never learned to be happy that he was mine !'
The Kaiser also knew about his mother's disappointment in his arm.
In 1880 on his engagement, he told his former tutor Dr. Hinzpeter that he 'had never thought it possible that a lady could ever take any real interest in him on account of his unfortunate arm !'
When Dr. Hinzpeter questioned his mother, she admitted to having criticized Wilhelm as a child.

Georg Ernst Hinzpeter (* 9. Oktober 1827 in Horst/ Emscher; † 28. Dezember 1907 in Bielefeld

Wilhelm and Kaiserin
Viktoria Adelaide Mary Louisa
Kaiserin von Deutschland
Because of his mother's feeling of inadequacy based on his arm, Wilhelm also felt inadequate. 
In addition, Wilhelm indeed exhibited an 'overly erotic' relationship with his mother - Kaiserin Friedrich - also known as Kaiserin Viktoria.

Kaiserin von Deutschland
und Königin von Preußen
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Victoria, Princess Royal (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa; 21 November 1840 – 5 August 1901) was the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert. She was created Princess Royal of the United Kingdom in 1841. She became German Empress and Queen of Prussia by marriage to German Emperor Frederick III. After her husband's death, she became widely known as Empress Frederick (German: Kaiserin Friedrich).
She was often known as 'Die Engländerin' (the Englishwoman) due to her origins in the United Kingdom, even though her ancestry was almost entirely German. Indeed, she continued to speak English in her German household.

John Van Der Kiste stated that the Kaiser
'still enjoyed a very close, if a little bizarre, relationship with his mother. Several of his letters to her while he was at school had dwelt on his "little secret" for her and her alone, dreams that he described in embarrassing detail of rituals in which they embraced each other tenderly and he watched her remove her gloves, then kissed her ˜dear, soft warm hands".'
If only a little disturbing, this demonstrates the environment in which 'histrionic disorder' is likely to develop.
Significantly, in adulthood, Wilhelm's royal relatives feared that their powerful kinsman was mentally ill, especially because insanity ran in the family.

König Ludwig II von Bayern
The most famous victim of this hereditary tendency was Wilhelm’s cousin, King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Ludwig II (Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm), (25 August 1845 – 13 June 1886) was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death. He succeeded to the throne aged only 18. Two years later Bavaria was effectively subjugated by Prussia, and subsequently absorbed into the German Empire. Ludwig remained King of Bavaria, but largely ignored such state affairs as remained to Bavaria in favor of extravagant artistic and architectural projects. Ludwig spent all the royal revenues on these projects (though not state funds), borrowed extensively, and defied all attempts by his ministers to restrain him. This was used against him to declare him insane. His mysterious demise took place the very next day.

And it was not only relatives who were concerned about Wilhelm's mental stability - a Prussian diplomat speculated that Wilhelm was possessed “by an evil spirit, bewitching his mind.”, and the Chancellor who was dismissed by Wilhelm, Fürst Otto von Bismarck, wrote that the emperor suffered from an “abnormal mental condition.”
Belief in the emperor’s mental illness was borne out by a nervous breakdown he suffered in 1908, after a disastrous interview with a reporter from Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
The kaiser told the interviewer that the British were “as mad as march hares”, and claimed that the majority of Germans hated Britain.
Wilhelm had granted the interview with the newspaper in an attempt to gain the friendship of Britain, which was alarmed by the rapid build-up of Germany’s navy.
His comments, not surprisingly, had the opposite effect.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Histrionic Personality Disorder Diagnosis

The first criterion of a histrionic is that he or she is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the centre of attention.
These traits were exhibited in the Kaiser's 'insistence on turning every 'conversation' into a hectic monologue [and] his need to have people about him all the time.'
It was also said by the Viennese that 'Wilhelm insisted on being the stag at every hunt, the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral.'
These remarks, along with many more, demonstrate Wilhelm II's self-contentedness.
A histrionic's interaction with others is also often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behaviour.
A recorded display of this criterion occurred with the women Ella and Ana during a hunting expedition where they visited him.
It was reported that 'a policeman was about to order Ella and Anna away when one of the Prince's suite intervened to explain that the ladies were 'for his master'.
The three of them took a room for the night, and made so much noise that all other guests were awakened.

Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria
Word of Wilhelm's pillow talk during this escapade reached the ears of Crown Prince Rudolf, who informed an Austrian military attaché of Wilhelm's 'enchanting conversation with these two unclean females.'
After a few incidents such as this, and some suspected pregnancies, he was less publicly involved with women.
However, 'the Kaiser still regularly flirted with attractive women on his journeys away from Berlin
The memoirs of Elisabeth Wedel-Berard offers one of the most penetrating glances into this inappropriately seductive behaviour.
She claimed that Kaiser Wilhelm II wrote,
Chére comtesse, you have indeed a difficult life behind you. Oh ma chére adorée, how great you are in my estimation ! You sacrificed your love out of patriotism! That is magnificent! You refused your former husband everything, would you refuse me, adorée, everything too, if we should one day be together ? If I knelt before you and begged ?'
Therefore, in many instances he displayed inappropriately seductive behaviour, thus fulfilling criterion two.
Thirdly, a 'histrionic' displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions.
The Kaiser demonstrated this in his personality first when he was only a boy.
When his Prussian cousins visited,
'the cousins found him likeable enough, but too mercurial, volatile, and restless, full of energy one moment, morose and brooding the next. They nicknamed him "Wilhelm the Sudden".'

Sir Edward Goschen
The next incident reported that expressly exhibited rapidly shifting emotions was in
1908 when Sir Edward Goschen, the new British ambassador, arrived in Potsdam to hand in his credentials. Goschen reported that:
'I was shown into a long room, with the Emperor standing at the far end. I bowed and bowed and bowed. But he had is Overlord face on, and never moved a muscle - not a smile, not a movement of any sort. He might have been cut out of stone. I handed him my letters with the usual words. Still not a sign, so I had to make a speech. When I had finished, at last he broke into a genial smile, shook me warmly by the hand, and gave me a nice cheery welcome to [Berlin] saying all sorts of nice things. But I shall never forget those first 5 minutes. It was appalling and I nearly choked over my little speech. Afterwards I presented the Staff. I thought him genial, but the Staff told me that for him he was "depressed".'
Therefore, the Kaiser exhibited shifting emotions from one extreme to the next, both in childhood and as an adult.

Goschen entered the Diplomatic Service in 1869 and after an initial few months at the Foreign Office he served in Madrid, as Third Secretary in Buenos Aires, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Constantinople, Peking, Copenhagen as secretary to the legation, (1888–1890), Lisbon as secretary to the legation, Washington (1893–1894) as secretary and Saint Petersburg (1895–1898). Berlin made it clear that Sir Arthur Nicolson would be unacceptable as the successor and although the Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Charles Hardinge had initially favoured Fairfax Cartwright, the Minister at Munich, he was in his turn vetoed by the Germans who wanted a public figure. Eventually a reluctant Kaiser was persuaded to accept Goschen. In Goschen's last conversation with the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg before asking for his passports, on 4 August 1914, Bethmann famously expressed his astonishment that England would go to war for "a scrap of paper" (the 1839 treaty guaranteeing Belgium's neutrality).

Another historian encountered the shallowness of Wilhelm's personality.
He remarked, 'Nonetheless, although I believe that Victoria, like Wilhelm, can be classified as a narcissistic personality, Victoria's narcissism was fundamentally different from her son's. She lacked Wilhelm's artificiality and superficiality. One never gets the sense, as with Wilhelm, that her feelings, actions, and attitudes were not quite genuine or that her personality was little more than a succession  of theatrical poses.'
Histrionics also consistently use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves.
The Kaiser was certainly obsessed with his appearances.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Kaiser Wilhelm II
In regards to his routine, and countless uniforms, historian John Van Der Kiste wrote:
'After washing, he was shaved by his barber and had his moustache brushed by Herr Haby, the ends turned up in the soon to be familiar shape of a letter W. Then he could dress in the uniform he thought correct for the first activity of the day. According to his cousin Marie, Queen of Roumania, he "changed his uniform several times a day as a smart woman changes her gown." In addition to his much-cherished foreign uniforms he had a full one for every Prussian regiment, over three hundred alone, to say nothing of those of Bavaria, Saxony and Wurttemberg, as well as naval and marine uniforms. All had their own individual badges, sashes, caps, helmets, epaulettes, shoulder points, belts, swords, lances and firearms. The resulting wardrobe and armoury had to be housed in a hall containing huge wardrobes, with a Kammerdiener on duty from morning to night to select at the shortest possible notice any outfit he might require.'

John Van der Kiste, British author, was born in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, on September 15, 1954, son of Wing Commander Guy Van der Kiste (1912–99). He was educated at Blundell's School, Tiverton. 

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Therefore, appearances to the Kaiser were very important.
Even more incriminating was the Kaiser's daughter's governess Anne Topham.
Her description of the Kaiser outside of his uniform was that,
'Many German gentlemen lost much in appearance when out of uniform, but none to the extent that their Emperor did. He no longer had any shred of dignity, and, curiously enough, that charm of manner was also bereft of its influence, and merged into what was an offensive, wearisome buffoonery. 'He was wise', she added, 'not to appear before his subjects except in uniform.'
Therefore, he did not merely use his wardrobe and appearances to look presentable, but they were also required for him to act presentably.
However, his wardrobe, and perhaps moustache, were ultimately used as a tool to draw attention to himself, thus fulfilling criterion four of a 'histrionic'.
'Histrionics' also tend to have a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic, and lacking in detail.
In a key speech, the Kaiser proclaimed to the people:
'Thus we belong to each other, I and the Army, we were born for each other, and will cleave indissolubly to each other, whether it be the Will of God to send us calm or storm. You will soon swear fealty and submission to me, and I promise ever to bear in mind that from the world above the eyes of my forefathers look down upon me, and that I shall have one day to stand accountable to them for the glory and honour of the Army.'
Insecurity drove him on to strut and swagger, assuming a theatrical pose that the martial atmosphere of Berlin demanded he should personify.
The Kaiser made this speech to create an impression on the German people, but it lacks detail.
'Histrionics' also show self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion.

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia
His daughter commented on his exaggerated expressions many times in her memoirs.
She wrote,
'My father could laugh like a great big boy, and every now and then would slap his knees in mirth. He had a great sense of humour and could tell some wonderful stories.'
She also wrote that,
'The manner in which my father handled Edward was considered gushing, too extravagant in his use of words.'
These remarks both demonstrate his exaggerated expressions, both in public and private life, thus fulfilling criterion six.
Finally, 'histrionics' are suggestible and easily influenced by others.
Hinzpeter and the Kaiser's mother first recognized the suggestibility of Wilhelm.
Hinzpeter, his tutor, told Wilhelm to express an opinion about everyone and everything without fear.
Hinzpeter taught him that no one should dominate him, even his advisers.
However, when the Kaiser was almost eight, his mother wrote to Queen Victoria of her son's failings on this account.
She wrote,
'he is inclined to be selfish, domineering and proud, but I must say they too are not his own faults, as they have been hitherto more encouraged than checked'.
Thus, despite Hinzpeter's encouragements, the Kaiser ultimately was highly suggestible. 

Prince Otto von Bismarck
Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany, later remarked to Count George Herbert von Munster, German ambassador to Paris, that the Kaiser was
'like a balloon, if one did not hold him fast on a string, he would go no one knows whither.'
Therefore, both early and later in life, the Kaiser was easily influenced by others, thus fulfilling the seventh criterion.
The final criterion in which 'histrionics' consider relationships more intimate than they actually are is impossible to discern.
However, it is only necessary that a person meet 5 of the 8 criterion for a diagnosis of 'histrionic personality disorder'.
Thus, based on the overwhelming evidence of the Kaiser's personality, there is a strong probability Kaiser Wilhelm II was a 'histrionic'.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis

There are many studies to support that when a person has 'histrionic personality disorder', they also exhibit some of the symptoms of other personality disorders.
One study by Widiger and Rogers indicated that at least 80% of the persons that met the criteria for 'histrionic personality disorder' were likely to meet the criteria set for another personality disorder.
Furthermore, the greatest overlap was with the 'borderline' and 'narcissistic personality disorders' (51% met the criteria for borderline, and 73% met the criteria for narcissistic).
It is probable that the Kaiser exhibited some symptoms of narcissism, as some historians such as Kohut speculated, and the Kaiser exhibited many symptoms of 'borderline personality disorder' as well.
He exhibited (1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, (2) affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood, which included intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety, (3) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger, and (4) an identity disturbance with an unstable self-image or sense of self.
Wilhelm exhibited the first criterion in his memoirs, which display a real sense of abandonment, primarily by other nations.
He writes about the purpose of the 'encirclement' of the German nation in that 'England, France, and Russia had, though for different reasons, and aim in common- viz., to overthrow Germany.'
In his opinion, these nations sought to destroy Germany and thus himself, the Kaiser, as well.

Eulenberg recorded instances of the second and third criterions of borderline personality disorder in both 1900 and 1903, when aboard the Kaiser's North Sea cruises.
In 1900, he wrote that
'H.M. is no longer in control of himself when he is seized by rage. I regard the situation as highly dangerous.'

Fuerst von Eulenburg 
Philipp Friedrich Alexander Fürst zu Eulenburg und Hertefeld, Graf von Sandels (12 February 1847 – 17 September 1921) was a politician and diplomat of imperial Germany in the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was also a composer and writer. Eulenburg became a close friend of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II, who was twelve years his junior, prior to Wilhelm’s accession to the imperial throne. Upon the accession of Wilhelm to the thrones of Prussia and Germany, Eulenburg assumed an unofficial position of immense influence, and among other things, was instrumental in the appointment of Bernhard von Bülow as head of the foreign office in 1897. Although he was married, Eulenburg was connected in homosexual liaisons with members of the Kaiser’s inner circle, including Count Kuno von Moltke, the military commander of Berlin. Sources say that he continued to have homosexual relationships even after the marriage. The public exposure of these liaisons in 1907 led to the Harden-Eulenburg Affair. In 1908, Eulenburg was placed on trial for perjury due to his denial of his homosexuality; the trial was repeatedly postponed due to Eulenburg’s claim of poor health. Eulenburg died in Liebenberg in 1921, aged 74.

Later in 1903, Eulenburg reported that the Kaiser
'is difficult to handle and complicated on all things, no matter how trivial. No one can make even the most harmless remark without provoking a violent objection, an insulting response or even an outburst of rage.'
Eulenberg wrote that the Kaiser 'wandered around the ship as if in a dream-world,' and he remarks that he cried as he saw the Kaiser' face 'completely distorted with rage'.
In these instances, he exhibited instability due to irritability and anxiety, which produced intense anger and was difficult to control. 
The fourth criterion, - an identity disturbance, with an unstable self-image or sense of self, is difficult to determine.
The self is defined as 'the individual's experience of himself as an independent centre of initiative that is continuous in time and space.
Other historians, such as Kohut, speculated that Kaiser Wilhelm II experienced himself 'as part of others, and others as part of himself, that is, he experienced them as archaic˜self-objects"' Though made in reference to the Kaiser's narcissistic tendencies, it also fits in with the secondary diagnosis of 'borderline personality disorder'.
Essentially, the Kaiser did not develop into a strong, cohesive self, and he was not able to experience other people separate from his self.
He experienced other people and objects as 'self-objects', and this developed into a need to establish these relationships to make up for the shortcomings of the self.
However, the primary diagnosis of 'histrionic personality disorder' and the secondary diagnosis of 'borderline personality disorder' bear no significance unless they are viewed in terms of causation of actions.
Because Wilhelm II ultimately became the Kaiser or Emperor in Germany, he naturally had influence on policy-making.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Life as Kaiser

These 'histrionic' and 'borderline personality' tendencies developed fully later in life, when the Kaiser was emperor.
On becoming Kaiser, Wilhelm received the title "Allerhöchste" (All-highest).
The Kaiser’s courtiers and relatives were treated by Wilhelm with a contempt one biographer characterized as “physical sadism.
Wilhelm once beat up his cousin, (his grandmother Queen Victoria’s nephew), the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was sovereign ruler of the duchy his title refers to.
On several occasions, the emperor forced the royal duke to lie on his back while Wilhelm sat on his stomach.
Acting like a sadistic personal trainer, the Kaiser forced elderly ministers to perform strenuous exercises - knee jerks and jumping jacks – which amounted to torture since it was inflicted on senior citizens.
Dietrich von Hulsen, commander in chief of Germany’s High Command, and a Prussian aristocrat of advanced years and ancient lineage, died of a heart attack while dancing at the Kaiser’s request in a large feathered hat and tutu.
Other courtiers courted their sovereign’s favour by apparently 'happily' participating in their humiliation.
The obese Count Emil Görtz von Schlitz once dressed up like a circus poodle, barking and crawling on all fours, according to the correspondence of an eyewitness.
The count put a healthy spin on his aberrant behaviour by claiming the Kaiser’s laughter helped him forget that Görtz’s “beloved sister – the dearest thing I have on earth – is at this moment dying in Breslau.
Wilhelm always remained immature, with one courtier complaining in 1908: "he is a child and will always remain one."
He was also an egomaniac with a complete over-estimation of his own abilities which he loved to talk about.
Unfortunately these did not include a sense of reality, for he saw things only as he wished.
Thus the French and English were once described in a racial diatribe as "not Whites at all but Blacks" while Jesus of Nazareth, he claimed, (probably under the influence of Huston Stewart Chamberlain) "had never been a Jew."
Nor did he have any sense of proportion or moderation, always calling for revenge on enemies who had to die or be punished, since he hated all sorts of groups and classes, not to mention individuals, such as his parents.
His sense of humour, perhaps not surprisingly therefore, included hitting, beating, stabbing or otherwise humiliating colleagues and servants.
As far as his sex life was concerned, he had innumerable affairs with prostitutes before ascending the throne in 1888, after which time he became more interested in men, particularly soldiers.
Whether he was an active homosexual is open to dispute - although Harden believed he had hard evidence.
What is not open to dispute is that through his close friend Count Philipp zu Eulenburg and his circle, he did mix mainly with homosexuals.
Indeed, Rohl comments: "It is indeed disturbing to reflect that the generals who took Germany and Europe into the Armageddon of 1914 not infrequently owed their career to the Kaiser's admiration for their height and good looks in their splendid uniforms."
In view of this there were widespread rumours at the time that the Kaiser was a precocious bisexual, who displayed his affinity for the same sex as early as high school.
Wilhelm's friend at the Friedrichsgymnasium, a private high school in Kassel, Germany, was Siegfried Sommer, who was subsequently known to be homosexual.
He ate all his meals with Wilhelm, an unheard of honour for a royal to grant a commoner in a society with an excessively rigid caste-system
Circumstantial evidence that relationship was more than platonic comes, ironically, from one of the most vociferous defenders of the kaiser’s heterosexuality, the Anglo-German don, John C.G. Röhl, who wrote that Wilhelm on one occasion 'put his arm around his friend’s waist as one might around a pretty girl’s.'
Besides this incident, there is much stronger, documented evidence of the Kaiser’s bisexual inclinations described in testimony from several libel trials in 1906 and 1907, forgotten now but objects of international obsession at the time.
In 1888, Germany's prime minister (Ministerpräsident), Otto von Bismarck, wrote to his son that the relationship between Wilhelm and his best friend, Prince Eulenburg, “could not be confided to paper” - then proceeded to do so in a letter to his son.
Public exposure of Eulenburg’s bisexuality originated with a series of editorials written by Maximilian Harden, an anti-monarchist publisher of an obscure weekly newspaper, 'Die Zukunft' (The Future).
To make sure readers would read between the lines of his editorials, he dropped enough hints about the alleged lovers, including Moltke’s well-known nickname, “Tutu,” and referred to the unnamed Eulenburg as “leader of a sinister and effeminate camarilla.”
One editorial of the time contained a fictitious conversation between Moltke and Eulenburg, in which they discussed a mutual gay friend identified only as “Liebchen,” whom readers easily recognized as the affectionate nickname for the Kaiser among his inner circle.
Liebchen’s” roughly translates as “sweetheart.”
Eventually the mountain of evidence against Moltke and Eulenburg turned into an avalanche that buried them - and subsequently a young soldier and courtier, unlike the cautious newspaper publisher, was willing to name names and testify.
The soldier testified that many members of the Kaiser’s inner circle were homosexuals, and engaged in orgies.
The young man also testified that he once saw Eulenburg and Moltke having sex.
Undeterred by his public humiliation, Moltke filed  charges of criminal libel.
The judge, however, shared the public’s respect and admiration for the aristocracy, the celebrities of the pre-movie star era, and the publisher of the stories regarding Moltke's homosexuality was found guilty sent to prison for four years.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The Kaiser's Influence on Government Policy

Regarding Wilhelmine Germany, from 1897 it was run as a "functioning monarchy" with power concentrated in the hands of one man (thought by many who knew him to be mad) and that, as a result, "the Kaiser, the royal family, the Kaiser's circle of friends, the imperial entourage and the court formed the heart of this system on which the very highest officials of the Reich and state bureaucracy (as well as the leaders of the army and the navy) were psychologically dependent."
The Reich Chancellor could therefore become, in Bülow's phrase, merely "the executive tool of His Majesty, so to speak, his political Chief of Staff" with the result that "the restoration under Kaiser Wilhelm II of a genuinely functioning monarchy claiming legitimation by Divine Right one hundred years after the French Revolution was even more forced, artificial, anachronistic [and] grotesque" (than the government of Germany had been under Bismarck.)
This may be shown by examining not merely the character of the Kaiser and his court, but by analysing the roles of the higher civil service, the armed forces, the diplomatic service and the "kingship mechanism" which held the whole system together.
The new system emerged in stages: the period 1888-1890 was dominated by the conflict with the 'all-powerful" Bismarck; the years 1890-1897 were ones of transition from an "improvised" to "an institutionalised personal rule" (the latter phrase borrowed from the German constitutional historian); the period 1897 -1908 represented Bülow's promised "personal rule in the good sense" (i.e. with the cooperation of a sycophantic Chancellor), a period which may well have extended till 1914; while during the First World War Wilhelm was merely a "shadow emperor".
Almost all the controversial legislation of the Wilhelmine period can be traced back to the Kaiser's own initiative.
Such legislation included the 'Lex Heinze' of 1891 against prostitution; the education laws announced in his speech of December 1890; the great 'Army Law' of 1893 which the War Minister was simply "commanded" to prepare through a Flùgeladjutant on the third anniversary of the Kaiser's accession to the throne; the moderate trade treaties and customs tariffs of the early 1890s, and again of a decade later, which the Kaiser demanded despite the extreme demands of the East Elbian landed nobility; although the best examples of the Kaiser's personal rule were "the social and socialist policies, the gigantic fleet-building programme and the Prussian canal policy."
The building of the fleet was, of course, to have tremendous consequences driving Great Britain into the arms of Russia and France and thus helping Germany lose the First World War. 
Yet even Admiral von Hollmann, the Secretary of State in the Reich Navy Office admitted in 1896 "that there were not as many as ten people in the Reichstag in favour of the great future fleet plans" while Tirpitz himself wrote to the Grand Duke of Baden in 1903 that "genuine enthusiasm among the people and therefore also among their parliamentary representatives is lacking for the vigorous development of our forces at sea."

Friedrich von Hollmann (January 19, 1842 – January 21, 1913) was an Admiral of the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) and Secretary of the German Imperial Naval Office under Emperor Wilhelm II. Hollmann was born in Berlin, Germany and entered the Prussian Navy in 1857

It was little wonder, therefore, that by 1902 the anti royalist, Maximilian Harden, was writing in 'Die Zukunft' that "the Kaiser was his own Reich Chancellor" and that "all the important decisions of the past twelve years had been taken by him."

Born the son of a merchant in Berlin he attended the Französisches Gymnasium until he began to train as an actor and joined a travelling theatre troupe. In 1878 Harden started his journalistic career as a theatre critic in 1884. From 1892 Harden published the journal 'Die Zukunft' (The Future)  in Berlin. His baroque style was mocked by former friend Karl Kraus, who even wrote a satire about "translations from Harden". Initially a monarchist, Harden became a fierce critic of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his entourage around Prince Philip of Eulenburg and Kuno von Moltke. His public accusations of homosexual behaviour - according to Paragraph 175 a criminal offence at that time - from 1906 on, led to numerous trials, and did sustained damage to the reputation of the ruling House of Hohenzollern

Bernhard  von Bülow 
The situation was such that no high-ranking minister, army or naval officer, courtier or civil servant would risk disagreeing with the Kaiser in case he dismissed them.
Thus Bülow once told Holstein: "I cannot consider it useful to make suggestions to His Majesty the Kaiser which have no prospect of actual success, and only make him annoyed with me."

Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow (May 3, 1849 – October 28, 1929), named in 1905 Prince (Fürst) von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.

Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz likewise informed the Grand Duke of Baden regarding a hoped-for intervention: "I would be worsening my position in relation to H. M. for a subsidiary aim without any hope of success."

Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz (March 19, 1849 – March 6, 1930) was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the Kaiserliche Marine  from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten the British Royal Navy. 

Wilhelm did not even like ministers to submit their own resignations - that showed too much independence - although a frosty glance, a curt dismissal, a lack of conversation or an imperial contradiction might all be motives for resignation none the less.
In the end courtiers, diplomats, civil servants and officers all became sycophants.
Bülow, none the less, could justify the regime before the Reichstag in 1903 with the words: "The German people do not want a shadow Kaiser, the German people want a Kaiser made of flesh and blood. "
His advisers commonly said that he had the politically alarming tendency to adopt the opinions and goals of the person with whom he had last spoken.
He assimilated the opinions of others in his sense of self to make up for his shortcomings and provide him a sense of purpose.
This manifested itself into a contradictory character.
Wilhelm's use of the press in order to glean the opinions of the public also contributed to his contradictory behaviour.
Wilhelm II's ultimate goal as Kaiser was popularity with the German people, namely the middle classes.
However, public opinion often shifted during Wilhelm II's reign, and contradictions notoriously fill a press's publications.
It is thus conclusive that his use of the press to gain insight into public opinion directly contributed to his contradictory behaviour, which was the basis of distrust for other monarchs.
His build-up of the German navy is also the direct result of the Kaiser's inner instability and insecurity.
As Kohut said, 'as ships and the Navy increased the Kaiser's sense of psychological strength, harmony, and cohesion, so too did he assume that the construction of the High Sea's Fleet would increase the strength, harmony, and cohesion of the German nation.'
Wilhelm experienced the navy as a 'self-object', that is, the navy was not for a militaristic, diplomatic, or political objective, but designed in such a way as to compensate for his inner insecurities.
Therefore, the navy was primarily to build up the strength of the German nation and himself, not as an act of hostility to other nations.
At the very most, it was a tool used to coax Britain into an alliance with Germany.
However, many nations, primarily Britain, viewed the build-up of the German Navy as a threat, and political circles in Britain (and elsewhere) were acutely aware of the Kaiser's perceived mental instability and character defects, and this perception informed the day-to-day conduct of British policy towards Germany.
Therefore, not only did the Kaiser's personal instability and personality disorders affect the internal politics of Germany, it also contributed directly to the disintegration of foreign relations.

Lord Salisbury
Erichsen warned Lord Salisbury, the British Foreign Secretary 'that Prince Wilhelm was not, and never would be, a normal man. That while it was not probable that he would actually become insane, some of his actions would probably be those of a man not wholly sane. On these grounds the accession of the Crown Prince would possibly be a danger to Europe'.
This communication had a lasting impression on Lord Salisbury because he allegedly said 'Erichsen' whenever the Kaiser committed an indiscretion.
Salisbury wrote to Queen Victoria in 1888 'that all Prince William's impulses, however blameable and unreasonable, will henceforth be political causes of enormous potency: & the two nations are so necessary to each other, that everything that is said to him must be carefully weighed. It is to be hoped that natural grief & a feeling of decency will dominate him & exclude all lower impulses.'
The 'lower impulses' of the Kaiser continued to shape Salisbury's outlook on European affairs for the remainder of his life
Salisbury even went so far as to decline to meet with Wilhelm in 1889, which severely embittered the Kaiser even after 25 years following the incident.

Gottlieb von Jagow
Gottlieb von Jagow remarked when he was German ambassador Rome to his British colleague that 'Lord Salisbury remained like Achilles in his tent at Hatfield. This had greatly offended His Majesty'
Thus, the dislike between the Kaiser and Salisbury was mutual.

Graf Leopold von Caprivi
The dismissal of Bismarck and then Caprivi combined with the Kruger telegram affair further strengthened Salisbury's convictions of Wilhelm's instabilities.
The Kruger telegram in particular decimated the perceptions of the Kaiser by British officials. 
The naval building program began at this juncture, so as to precipitate Britain into taking Germany more seriously.
The Kaiser also made frequent predictions of an Anglo-French War, which convinced Salisbury and the Queen that the Kaiser's primary goal was to provoke a war between England and France.
Both these predictions, and the naval build-up, gave England cause for great concern.
When the 'Boxer' rising occurred in China, Wilhelm proceeded to dispatch Germans to the China relief force which further concerned Salisbury of Wilhelm's 'warlike spirit'.

Queen Victoria's Funeral
Queen Victoria's Death Bed
However, Salisbury's successors were less concerned with the Kaiser's instabilities.
Wilhelm, forewarned about Queen Victoria's approaching demise, rushed to her bedside as her grandson.
Though the British public highly praised the Kaiser for his moving gesture, Wilhelm's outburst in April 1901, where he chided the British government for not adhering to his suggestions, reversed the good impression, and resurrected concerns about the Kaiser's instabilities.

Kaiser Wilhelm II  in Tangier
The subsequent 'Tangier' episode provided concern that the Kaiser was trying to break up the Anglo-French entente of 1904.53
Lansdowne declined the Kaiser's attempt to speak with him privately because a precarious situation ensued.
Sir Edward Grey, Lansdowne's successor, warned that 'the danger of speaking civil words at Berlin is that they may be used or interpreted in France as implying that we shall be lukewarm in our support of the Entente.'
Grey's subsequent meeting with Wilhelm went smoothly, but Grey certainly did not like the Kaiser, and thought he was mentally unstable and superficial.

Sir Edward Grey
Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, KG PC FZL DL (25 April 1862 – 7 September 1933), better known as Sir Edward Grey, Bt, was a British Liberal statesman. He served as Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, the longest continuous tenure of any person in that office. He is probably best remembered for his remark at the outbreak of the First World War: "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time". Ennobled as Viscount Grey of Fallodon in 1916, he was Ambassador to the United States between 1919 and 1920 and Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords between 1923 and 1924.

The 'Daily Telegraph' affair brought the Kaiser's apparent mental instability to a head.
The Foreign Office saw it as another attempt to influence public opinion in Britain in favour of Germany, and in early November 1908, political circles in London were gripped by a 'war- scare'.

Foreign Secretary Lansdowne
Former Foreign Secretary Lansdowne said, 'It is inconceivable that they should provoke a European war, but the Emperor is becoming more irresponsible with every year that passes !'
The ambassador in Paris wrote that the 'Kaiser's temperament was so excitable and so little to be relied on that it was impossible to say what further follies he might commit.'
Finally, Grey the British Foreign Secretary, informed the Lord of Admiralty that the fleet be ready 'in case Germany sent France an ultimatum and the Cabinet decided that we must assist France.'
Though this crisis dissipated, Grey was 'tired of the Emperor; he is like a battleship with steam up and the screws going, but with no rudder and you cannot tell what he will run into or what catastrophe he will cause.'
In all of the above incidents, foreign Politicians commented upon the Kaiser's mental instabilities, and foreign relations further deteriorated.
Therefore, the Kaiser Wilhelm II's 'personality disorder' directly contributed to the deterioration of foreign relations and, in Britain, 'did not allow for stability and consistency in German foreign policy.'
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This was the manner in which 'Germany and England, two nations with fundamentally compatible interests, were driven towards armed conflict by a man who in the deepest layers of his personality wished that they would live together in friendship and peace.'
Due to Kaiser Wilhelm II's 'personality inadequacies', he was unable to successfully delineate between his hopes for an alliance between Germany and Britain, and his hopes for Germany's day in the sun.
The Kaiser's daughter, who knew him better than anyone, explained in her memoirs:
'Since I had last seen my father in May, a world had been demolished and my father thoroughly shattered by the turn of events. I could see that at once. His thoughts were concentrated on the depressing fact that all his desperate efforts had not enabled him to extinguish the flames of war, or at least to localize them. That was the essential theme of the conversations he held with me. The bitterness of his words revealed that he, too, despite all the manifest skepticism, had fervently hoped that at the last minute a personal understanding between him and King George V would ward off the great calamity.'
The efforts of the Kaiser at reconciliation between Germany and Britain failed.
When the assassination of Franz Ferdinand occurred, the treaty between the Austrians and Germans provoked the Germans to support Austria against Serbia.
Russia then entered on the side of the Serbians.
Then, due to a popular perspective that war was inevitable, Germany attacked Belgium and France in accordance with the infamous 'Schlieffen Plan'.
Then, due to the treaty between Britain and France, Britain entered the war by declaring war on Germany.

The Kaiser in 1914
The commencement of the First World War was a severe disappointment for the Kaiser, whose persistent efforts to prevent the war failed.

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia
The Kaiser's daughter remarked on two instances of the Kaiser's extreme displays of honour and virtue during the First World War.
First, she stated, 'one of his orders that air raids on London should only be carried out if it was certain that Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral would not be damaged, and would above all not involve residential districts.'
She also said:
'It may still sound legendary today, how the Kaiser behaved towards prisoners of war. In the same way that he visited our own wounded, he went to see the enemy wounded in the hospital. One characteristic action of my father was when he one day passed a train carrying French prisoners of war. He stopped his car and gave orders for the prisoner of war train to be halted. Then he requested the French officers to step forwards and made a speech in French in which he praised the bravery of the French army, offered them his sympathy as battle casualties and promised them they would be honorably treated in the prisoner of war camps.
That was the attitude of the German Kaiser to the conquered.'
These statements, largely unenclosed in conventional scholarship of the Kaiser, testify that though the Kaiser had a 'personality disorder', he was not vindictive and wicked.
Wilhelm was in fact a caring individual, who was essentially human, and did not possess the capacity to keep The First World War at bay.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The Kaiser's Legacy

Many scholars often blame Kaiser Wilhelm II as the primary cause of The First World War because of inconsistencies in his personality.
Rohl, arguably the most prominent historian commenting on the Kaiser, argues that 'the personal rule of the Kaiser prevailed because of his personal appointments of the Imperial Chancellors to Germany'.
However, historian Geoff Eley argues that the Kaiser's own personal rule in Germany was limited, and Rohl's argument is flawed.
The Kaiser was very dramatic, and constantly sought attention that identifies him as a 'histrionic', and his tendencies for breakdowns identifies him as a 'borderline' as well.
These 'personality disorders' only had a profound influence in two areas: the naval building program and foreign relations.
This is extremely disappointing because even though his actions as a result of the 'disorder' may have contributed directly to the deterioration of Anglo-German relations before the First World War, the Kaiser, in the deepest layers of his personality wished that they [Germany and Britain] would live together in friendship and peace.
Therefore, because of his innermost wishes for peace, and the several times in which he tried to initiate negotiations of peace, he is not the primary and only cause for the outbreak of The First World War.
Due to his own advisers, who made the 'Shlieffen Plan' and other mistakes, and foreign politicians largely mis-attributing his intentions, and neglecting to meet with the Kaiser, The First World War commenced.
Therefore, they also bore responsibility for the outbreak of The First World War.

After his abdication, he was as bitter about his people whom he felt had betrayed him.
He had, so he claimed, been betrayed by a nation of pigs (‘Schweinebande’), by Jews and Socialists, and he longed to exact a terrible revenge on those who had forced him to abdicate.
He lived the rest of his life comfortably off, and tended to by some forty servants, in a country house in Doorn in Holland, and never returned to Germany.
During the Second World War, when the German army was once again engaged in a bloody battle against its neighbours, he hoped that Adolf Hitler would finish the job that had been started in 1914.

He did not live to see how the Second World War ended.
He died in June 1941, aged 82.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for an interesting post although I do not quite agree about the Kaiser's supposed personality disorder, which, I believe, was an invention of British Propagandists in World War 1. The Kaiser's alleged militarism was a response to aggression from his neighbours - France was rapidly building up her armies on the Belgian border long before the Kaiser did. Prussia was historically and geographically a target for attacks from both the east and the west, and Wilhelm viewed a strong army as the best possible deterrent to war. I have recently written a book on this subject which, I believe, presents him rather differently...."The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II"