Kaiser Wilhelm II
Wilhelm was born on 27 January 1859 in Berlin, the eldest child of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia and Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. A difficult birth left Wilhelm with a withered arm, which he always tried to conceal. Some historians believe that his insecurity over this handicap fueled his later erratic behavior. His parents, particularly his British mother, tried to provide Wilhelm with a liberal education and a love of England. Wilhelm, from six years of age, was tutored and heavily influenced by the 39-year-old teacher Georg Hinzpeter. As a teenager he was educated at Kassel at the Friedrichsgymnasium. After Kassel he spent four terms at the University of Bonn, studying law and politics. Wilhelm possessed a quick intelligence, but unfortunately this was often overshadowed by a cantankerous temper. Wilhelm was exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy. The hyper-masculine military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame his political ideals and personal relationships. After Wilhelm II's grandfather, Wilhelm I died in 1888, at the age of 90, Frederick III was named emperor. But Frederick III would only rule for 99 days. Following a long battle with throat cancer, Emperor Frederick III died on June 15, 1888. Wilhelm II, succeeded his father, becoming Kaiser of Germany at the tender age of 29. The young Kaiser dreamed of building Germany into a major naval, colonial and economic power. Determined to have his own way, he forced Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to resign in 1890, and took charge of domestic and foreign policy himself. Under Wilhelm Germany invested in strengthening its colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but few became profitable and all were lost during the First World War. German foreign policy under Wilhelm II was faced with a number of significant problems. Perhaps the most apparent was that Wilhelm was an impatient man, subjective in his reactions...
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