Who was Kaiser Wilhelm II and what role did he play during WWI?


History, World War I

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Kaiser Wilhelm II played a large role in causing World War I (WWI) to happen, but he had very little real role in the war once it began.

Kaiser Wilhelm was the monarch of Germany.  The title “Kaiser” comes from the Latin “Caesar.”  Wilhelm II was the emperor of Germany from 1888 until he was forced to abdicate in 1918.  Before the war, Wilhelm was very important, but after the war started he played a very limited role.

In the years after he came to power, Wilhelm pushed hard to make Germany more powerful.  He felt that the country deserved to have its rightful “place in the sun.”  His aggressive actions caused the British and the French to be very worried that Germany might be trying to take power in Europe at their expense.  For these reasons, they made alliances and prepared for war.  This made the war much more likely.

Once the war started, Wilhelm played a very limited role.  He tried to influence military policy, but the military essentially did not allow him to do so.  Germany came to be run by the military and Wilhelm was mainly a figurehead until he was forced out of power.

Thus, Wilhelm II did much to bring the war about, but did not have an important role in the war itself.

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