KAISER WILHELM II 1859-1941
Grandson of Queen Victoria and Germany's last Kaiser, Wilhelm ascended the throne in 1888. He showed an early determination to rule in his own right by removing Bismarck from office in 1890.Germany's economy expanded dramatically under Wilhelm II, and this was accompanied by a marked desire for Germany to play a bigger role on the world stage.
It acquired overseas territories - Togoland (present-day Togo), Cameroon, Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania), South West Africa (Namibia), Tsingtao and various Pacific island groups - and embarked on an arms race with Britain. In so doing, Germany was acting like any other imperial state, but the older, more established empires (Britain, France, Russia) tended to view it as an aggressive, threatening upstart.Wilhelm was dominant in German political and military life in 1914, but during the first two years of the war, he was progressively sidelined by a group of generals and industrialists orchestrated .
In August 1916, Ludendorff and formed the , and they exercised the real power in Germany thereafter.Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November 1918, while Germany was racked by civil and political unrest, and he went into exile in Holland. He devoted the rest of his life to writing his memoirs and propagating the myth of the 'stab in the back'.