Profession: German Emperor and King of Prussia
Why Famous: The last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. During his first few years he dismissed the Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and set a new, aggressive foreign policy for the German Empire.
This "New Course" directly led to the July Crisis after the assassination of Austria-Hungary's Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This led to the outbreak of World War I.
Wilhelm was haughty and impetuous, and often made sensitive decisions and pronouncements without any consultation. His disastrous interview to the Daily Telegraph in 1908 cost him much of his influence. During the war, the leading German generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff controlled policy with little regard to the civilian government or Wilhelm.
After the German defeat he lost the support of the army, abdicated and fled to the Netherlands, where he died in exile in 1941.
He was also the eldest grandson of the British Queen Victoria.
- 1888-06-15 Wilhelm II becomes Emperor of Germany
- 1890-03-20 German Emperor Wilhelm II fires chancellor Otto von Bismarck
- 1894-10-28 German Emperor Wilhelm II fires chancellor Leo von Caprivi & Premier Botho zu Eulenburg
- 1901-03-06 In Bremen an assassin attempts to kill Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
- 1902-06-05 Emperor Wilhelm II responds to growing demands from Polish and other Slavic peoples living within German territory by calling for more 'Germanization' of the slavs
- 1904-01-23 Ålesund Fire: the Norwegian coastal town Ålesund is devastated by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and one person dead. Kaiser Wilhelm II funds the rebuilding of the town in Jugendstil style.
- 1904-03-03 Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany becomes the first person to make a sound recording of a political document, using Thomas Edison's cylinder
- 1905-03-31 Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany visits Tangier, Morocco and proclaims Germany's support of Moroccan independence and equal opportunity for all powers to trade there
- 1905-05-31 Emperor Wilhelm II lands in Tanger
- 1905-07-24 Tsar Nicholas II (Russia) and Emperor Wilhelm II (Germany) sign the Björkö Treaty, whereby each country agrees to come to the other's defense if attacked by European powers
- 1906-08-15 King Edward VII of Great Britain visits German Emperor Wilhelm II to discuss the escalating rivalry between their nations' naval forces
- 1907-12-13 German Emperor Wilhelm II visits Amsterdam
- 1908-10-28 The English Newspaper the Daily Telegraph prints an interview with Germany's Emperor Wilhelm II, who characterises himself as personally friendly to Britain but suggests the German people are hostile, causing uproar in both countries
- 1910-11-04 Russian Tsar Nicholas II visits German Emperor Wilhelm II at Potsdam; they force tentative agreements on spheres of influence in the Middle East
- 1912-12-08 Wilhelm II of Germany calls 'War Council'
- 1914-07-31 German Emperor Wilhelm II threatens war, orders Russia to demobilize
- 1914-08-01 Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany declares war on his nephew Tsar Nicholas II (WWI) of Russia in WWI
- 1916-11-05 Emperors Wilhelm II (Germany) and Franz Jozef I (Austria-Hungary) establish the kingdom of Poland
- 1918-11-09 Emperor Wilhelm II abdicates after German defeat in World War I
- 1918-11-10 German Emperor Wilhelm II flees to Netherlands
- 1918-11-28 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia & Germany abdicates
- 1920-01-23 Dutch refuse to turn over ex-Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany to allies