"whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser said No"
Wilhelm II
Public DomainWilhelm II - Credit: Library of Congress

Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was Germany's last Kaiser, or emperor.

He was born in Potsdam in 1859, the son of Frederick III and Victoria, daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria. His upbringing was strict and authoritarian.  He was educated at the Kassel Gymnasium and then at the University of Bonn. Wilhelm was an overtly militaristic man and was committed to building the strength of Germany's armed forces.  He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1908, and consequently played a lesser role in the government of Germany for the following few years.

Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary on 28 June 1914, Wilhelm and his Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, incited Austria-Hungary to exact revenge against Serbia.  Events spiralled out of control, resulting in the First World War.

During WWI, Kaiser Wilhelm served primarily as a figurehead for the German army. When Germans realized the war was lost, they rose up against the monarchy. Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate his postion on November 9th, 1918. He spent the rest of his life in exile in Holland.