Happy Birthday to the much-maligned and misrepresented Kaiser Wilhelm II - a man, in my opinion, 'more sinned against than sinning.' I sincerely hope that one day he will be seen very differently, as the 'Apostle of Peace', as he was described by an American commentator in 1913.
His son, with whom he did not always see eye-to-eye, wrote this of him:
With my father it has often seemed to me as though
speech had been bestowed upon him that he might
open to his hearer every nook and bypath of his rich
and sparkling inner world. He has always allowed his thoughts
and convictions to gush forth instantaneously and immediately without prelude and without prologue,
an incautious and noble spendthrift of an ever-fertile intellect which draws its sustenance from
comprehensive knowledge and a fancy whose only
fault is its exuberance. Moreover, he is by nature and
by ethico-religious training free from all guile ; he
would regard secrecy, dissimulation or insincerity as
despicable and far beneath his dignity. The idea that
the Kaiser could ever have wished to gain his ends
by false pretences or to pursue them by tortuous
routes is for me quite unimaginable....
In the depths of his nature my father is a thoroughly
kind-hearted man striving to make people happy and
to create joyousness around him...
The Kaiser, too, in those years of self-repression
and of weakness, just as in his days of unbroken self-
confidence, desired to do his best, and he regarded
as the best the peace of the realm. Nothing should
destroy that ; with every means at his command he
would secure that to the empire. The terrible tragedy
of his life and of his life's work lay in the fact that
everything he undertook to this end turned to the
reverse and became a countercheck to his aims, so
that finally a situation arose in which we were beset
by enemy upon enemy.
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