Preface

THIS VOLUME brings to a conclusion my biography of the last German Kaiser and covers the final half of his long life. It is the dispiriting narrative of a man and a nation brought to needless ruin, a barren portrait of a career that was without virtue or accomplishment. Wilhelm II was a man of strong likes and prejudices, tyrannically insistent on having his own way. I have tried to accommodate the Kaiser by stressing the affairs that most concerned him, particularly the obsession of his life Great Britain and its relationship with Germany. Other matters that were vital to the history of his empire but that did not strongly interest him are therefore deliberately accorded little emphasis. This is the biography of a man whose vision was woefully constricted and is not the history of the broadly productive nation over which he so maladroitly ruled.

In the course of pursuing for almost three decades the life of the last Kaiser, I have accumulated more indebtedness than I am capable of recalling, and I regret being unable to remember each of the many persons and institutions who have helped further the completion of this work. Thomas Kohut, Peter Paret, Norman Rich, and Gerhard Weinberg all came to my assistance in various ways. Ron Maner and Lewis Bateman, once again, proved to be superlative editors, and Teddy Diggs reviewed the manuscript with a hawk-like eye. In Germany, the efficient staff of the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz and of the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv in Freiburg greatly facilitated my research, and I encountered an equally professional reception from Mr. D. T. Coen and his colleagues at the Rijksarchief in Utrecht. I am most indebted to Her Majesty the Queen of England for permission to examine and to quote from the priceless materials deposited in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle and to the Right Honorable the Marquess of Salisbury for access to ancestral records at Hatfield House. I am also obliged to the late Prince Friedrich-Ferdinand of Schleswig‐ Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg for his hospitality at Glücksburg while I examined family documents and to Freiherr Nicolai von Freytag-Loringhoven of Munich for permission to consult the papers of Admiral Paul von Hintze. On this side of the Atlantic, Jennifer Ashworth, word-processor

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Wilhelm II - Vol. 2
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