Russia would be executed by the Bolsheviks, while Kaiser Wilhelm II would be cast aside after Germany’s brutal defeat at the hands of the allies. During their time as rulers, both had made crucial decisions that affected not only their own empires but the wider world. The Tsar inherited a regime resented by many social classes, forcing him to contend with an unstable country on the edge of rebellion and hungry for democracy.The Kaiser meanwhile offered a range of conflicting personalities to the public, blowing hot and old on numerous occasions, with the result that many considered him a weak and unpredictable leader.
This war would see the last Tsar of Russia and the last Emperor of Germany fall drastically from power. Kaiser Wilhelm II accession to the Throne in 1888 came at the age of 29 after the death of his father. Wilhelm was considered an erratic and narcissistic man.
Born with a withered arm, a birth defect that throughout his life he sought to hide.Wilhelm looked towards the British Empire as a role model, but also as a serious rival. The dismissal of Otto von Bismarck s Chancellor in 1890, saw Wilhelm pursue a more adventurous foreign policy and with Bernard Von Blows concept of Woolliest, proceeded to expand the empire with colonies in Iambi, Tanzania and Papa New Guiana. Carving out Germany’s ‘place in the sun’. In an interview with a British newspaper, Wilhelm claimed to have his ‘heart set on peace’ and it was an image he liked to cultivate though it appears in great contrast to some of his actions.During the first Moroccan crisis, he made a provocative official visit to the Sultan to show his support against the French and urine the second crisis of 1911, he sent a war ship to the port of Acadia. To avoid war, Germany was offered Togo as compensation, she accepted thus compromising the Kaisers status as a pacifier.
Germany was now beginning to be seen as an agitator with the impulsive Wilhelm at the steering wheel. Although he became known as the most hated man in Europe he was still seen by many as full of bluster.Someone who loved dressing in military attire but who was not astute in military practice. In time, he acquiesced to his own military domination, ultimately proving to be a meek commander in chief and technically, Just a figurehead.
Nicholas II took his seat as Tsar in 1894 at the age of 26. He married Princess Alexandra of Hess- Dramatic and together they had 7 children. She was widely reviled in the Russian empire, some were suspicious of her German roots while others felt she had too much influence over her husband.The Tsar held absolute power and was recognized as a holy icon among the Russian people, to the point that his image would be displayed alongside those of religious figures in people’s homes.
However, there was much discontent throughout Russia, especially among the working class and the regime seemed on the cusp off revolution. After their defeat during the Japan-Russo war of 1904 and a protest on the winter palace that led to bloodshed, revolution was sparked. The Tsar had hoped that a victory against Japan would unite Russia and quieted the growing tensions.Instead, it nearly brought the monarchy to its knees. But with the October Manifesto and the promise off Dumb, Nicholas II managed to salvage control for the time being. It was a break in absolute rule but the Dumb was a feeble and tame parliament and reflected the Tsar’s image throughout Russia and the world. They saw him as an ineffective ruler, controlled by wife who pushed his autocratic tendencies. Although widely despised during his reign as Tsar, Nicholas has in recent times been described as an intelligent, flexible leader.
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914, saw an exchange of telegrams between the two leaders. Wilhelm telegram to Nicholas the II on July 28th can be considered both antagonizing of the Tsar and his Government, and somewhat manipulative. The Kaiser states that it is of grave importance that the Tsar as ruler, understands that those responsible for the murder of the Archduke ND his wife should be brought to Justice and receive their ‘deserved punishment’.Aware of Russian interest in the Balkan area and the connection to the Slavic people, the Kaiser appears to be coercing a certain reaction from the Tsar. The telegram is antagonistic, playing on the perception of the regime’s weakness and inability to unite public opinion.
It also insinuates Russian accountability for any future conflict. The Tsar’s telegram, which incidentally crossed over with the Kaiser’s, is a plea for Germany to end its support for the Austrian/Hungarian ‘ignoble war’ on Serbia that as no honorable merit, and is suggestive of Wilhelm political influence over that Empire.Although Serbia was a client state of Russia and there was a perceived Slavic commonality between the countries, it was not the only reasons for the Tsars concern. War in the Balkans would put Russian’s interests at great risk.
Its only port, Odessa, was in Crimea and it sought to find more allies in the region to expand its dominion over the straits. Nicholas also undermines Wilhelm idea of monarchical unity where it concerns regicide. The crossover of these two telegrams was unfortunate and yet both contain accusations of blame for any possible outbreak of war.