Wilhelm Hohenzollern The Last of the Kaisers By Etnil Ludwig Author of Naf oleon, etc. Translated from the German by Ethel Colburn Mayne With 29 Illustrations G. P. Putnams Sons New York London The Knickerbocker Press 1927 WILLIAM TIIK SK ON1 To His Subjects PREFACE THIS book is a portrait of William the Second more it presents neither his epoch, r the whole story of his life. That it is too soon for such a delineation can scarcely be maintained in the seven years since his abdication the pace of events, the overthrow of accepted forms of govern ment, have brought to light a greater quantity of relevant documents than seven decades would hitherto have afforded us. In these years, some twenty volumes of German memoirs, together with the remarkable series of German Foreign Office Papers, have laid bare the greater part of what had been kept secret until w. To the illumination thus obtained, even the solitary missing link a volume from Prince Billows pen could add but little. Of William the Second, then, we kw in these days t too little, but too much. His chronicler must forget the full extent of his own kwledge the details seen and heard by him, as a contemporary he must sacrifice a hundred anecdotes of which historians in the future will assuredly make use. For fairness sake, at any rate, we here design to let adversary of the Emperor bear witness, but to construct our portrait wholly from his own deeds and words, together with the reports of those who stood in close relation to him, and who give strikingly similar answers to the psychical questions involved. In the following pages neither Socialist r alien voices will be heard only tlie voices of the Emperor, his relatives and friends, his Chan cellors, Ministers, and Generals, his courtiers and officials. All these documents and reports are to be found in well-kwn works. As sources, they have sometimes been quoted more fully than was desirable for the flow of the narrative in such special instances the present chronicler has often felt obliged to repress his more summary judg ment in favour of the individual opinions of eye-witnesses, thus guarding himself against the reproach of a one-sided interpretation. The one liberty occasionally taken by the author has been the modulation of indirectly reported conversations into dialogue form. There is but a limited appeal to the oral testimony of participators in the events. The War-years, to which the youngest reader can bear witness, receive the least extended treatment for they were merely the logical epilogue to the psychological prologue. In short, this is an attempt to trace from the idiosyn crasies of a monarch the direct evolution of international political events from his essential nature, the course of his countrys destiny. Hence there is a twofold purpose in this presentation of the story of one human beings life The realization of what may befall a mentally gifted, physically disabled young man, inspired by the best in tentions, when after an adolescence fruitful in stern ex periences he suddenly attains to power, and finds one who will speak the truth to him. It is so that the Law of Succession may too early lead a youth, untaught, untrained, to that exalted station where, surrounded by Court-flat terers, he all too easily becomes an overweening autocrat. Further, it will be seen that for thirty years this monarchs own opinions, own volitions, decided all great national problems for his country that vital question, whether PREFACE xi in peace or war, was ever answered without consulting him , r ever answered against his will. Then there will stand before us the figure of a man with whom an able family came to perdition only because he never met with such resistance from his people as in time would have matured him. E. L.