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‘Dropping the Pilot’ — Kaiser Wilhelm II and the New Course

  • Richard Scully
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Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Abstract

The rapid transitions between the dignified monarchy of Wilhelm I, to the brief, tragic reign of Friedrich, followed by the accession of the much younger Wilhelm II, produced a wide variety of reactions from cartoonists of the comic weeklies.1 While the response to the death of Wilhelm I was uniformly respectful (and that towards the cancer-stricken Friedrich similarly courteous), the advent of the impetuous, energetic Wilhelm II was met with expressions ranging from ridicule or outright suspicion of the young monarch’s military pretensions, to a quiet willingness to await the outcome of events before passing judgement on the new regime.2 Just as in the Bismarckian, so too in the Wilhelmine period, the image of Germany itself became subsumed under representations of a single individual, and ideas about his personal character as well as political standing. But even more so than Bismarck (or the other monarchs who acted as ‘deputies’ (Stellvertreter) for their respective cartoon nations), Wilhelm II seemed not only a representative, but the very incarnation of the ‘waxing vigour’ of his nation; his upturned moustache and preference for personal display all but ensuring that he would become a favourite of cartoonists of all persuasions.3 The very youth of the Kaiser himself (he was only 29 when he ascended the throne), combined with his insistence upon inaugurating a ‘Personal Regime’ in Germany, and his status as the grandson of Queen Victoria, were all combined to form an ironic image of a child-Kaiser.4

Keywords

Cartoon Image German Trade British Trade British Attitude German Press 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Note

  1. 7.
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Copyright information

© Richard Scully 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Scully
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New EnglandAustralia

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