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Kaiser and Führer

Kaiser and Führer: A Comparative Study of Personality and Politics

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 531
  • Book Info
    Kaiser and Führer
    Book Description:

    Thoroughly documented and engagingly written this is a classic work of scholarship that will fascinate historians, psychologists, and general readers alike.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6460-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xii-xiii)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xiv-2)
  6. 1 Two Profiles
    (pp. 3-67)

    Wilhelm II, last of the Hohenzollern rulers of Germany, was bequeathed a proud inheritance. His mother was the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, his father the scion of the Hohenzollerns, the royal family of Brandenburg–Prussia, whose ancestral home had originally been in southern Germany along the upper Neckar, bordering on Lake Constance. In 1227 the ducal house had split; one branch of the Hohenzollerns remained in the south, the other – Wilhelm’s ancestors – moved north, where they later converted to Protestantism, and became electors of Brandenburg in the Holy Roman Empire, then kings of Prussia, and finally German emperors of...

  7. 2 Weltanschauungen: Their Intellectual, Aesthetic, Religious, and Racial Worlds
    (pp. 68-123)

    Consider the perverse tastelessness(Geschmacklosigkeit)of Wilhelm II... Tasteless in his selection of friends and advisers, tasteless in art, in literature, in lifestyle, and in politics; tasteless in his every utterance.

    Harry Graf Kessler

    Hitler’s mind ... was coarse, turbid, narrow, rigid, cruel. It had nothing to recommend it but its power.

    Hugh Trevor-Roper

    Almost all who knew the Kaiser and the Führer personally, no matter what their opinions of these rulers may have been, agreed that they were endowed with extraordinary, if unbalanced, mental powers. Wilhelm's mind was quick and retentive, and it ranged over many interests. He designed...

  8. 3 Kaiser and Führer as Rulers in Peacetime: Theory and Practice
    (pp. 124-202)

    There is only one master in the Reich and that is I... There is but one law and that is my will... I am responsible to God alone.

    Kaiser Wilhelm II

    Our ideology is intolerant... and peremptorily demands ... that public life be completely transformed to conform to its ideas.

    Adolf Hitler

    On a blustery, lowering January day in 1933, most Germans viewed the coming to power of Adolf Hitler with apprehension.¹ By contrast, everyone had recognized the promise of young Wilhelm von Hohenzollern and predicted a brilliant reign when he ascended the throne of Imperial Germany on a lovely...

  9. 4 Kaiser and Führer as Rulers in War
    (pp. 203-241)

    Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler bear heavy responsibility for unleashing the two World Wars of the twentieth century whose horrors leave us aghast at the human capacity for wanton destruction and self-annihilation.

    During the first war young men by the millions, imbued with their parents’ ideals of honour, sacrifice, and duty, ‘gave their merry youth away for country and for God’ as they pushed back and forth across a thousand miles of ‘the front,’ expending their lives to gain a few acres of blood-sodden mud. In the first month of war alone, France ‘lost’ 300,000 of her sons; all but...

  10. 5 Psychological Dimensions
    (pp. 242-292)

    The late A.J.P. Taylor, for many years one of Britain’s most provocative and popular historians, would have heartily agreed with Russell Baker, for Taylor gave short shrift to those who use psychological insights in an effort to deepen their understanding of history.¹ Towards the close of his illustrious career he expressed his own historical credo in a farewell lecture that packed the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. Disdaining concern with irrational forces, he asserted that his own interpretations had relied entirely upon ‘my greatest gift as an historian: old-fashioned common sense.’²

    Who would dispute the manifold merits of common sense? In...

  11. 6 Kaiser and Führer: The Childhood Experience
    (pp. 293-345)

    The behaviour of these two men invites us to explore Wordsworth’s aphorism. The clinical experience of a respected psychotherapist reinforces the poet’s insight and makes a biographer’s exploration obligatory: ‘No reputable therapist would make a diagnosis of a patient -or even think he knew the patient very well - before finding out a great deal about his life history, particularly his childhood.’¹

    On the face of it, no similarities would seem to exist between the childhood experiences of the Kaiser and of the Führer. Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, the first son of a future king, was born into luxury, position, and...

  12. Reflections
    (pp. 346-351)

    In writing this book I have tried to be fair-minded. I am not, however, morally neutral, for I believe that if we intend to interpret the past as well as merely to record it, we cannot avoid making moral judgments. How can any historian remain morally indifferent to the way the United States Army massacred American Indians and Vietnamese civilians? Are we to withhold personal judgment about Allied decisions, during the last stages of the war, to fire-bomb the lovely baroque cities of Dresden and Wurzburg, whose military importance was negligible? Are we to remain ‘completely objective’ about Auschwitz? In...

  13. Addendum 1: Scatology in German Life and Letters
    (pp. 352-355)
  14. Addendum 2: The Kriegsschuldfrage and Historical Evidence
    (pp. 356-358)
  15. Addendum 3: The Kaiser in Exile
    (pp. 359-361)
  16. Addendum 4: Historical Continuity versus Change
    (pp. 362-364)
  17. Addendum 5: Coprophilic Perversion?
    (pp. 365-371)
  18. Addendum 6: Hitler and Incest
    (pp. 372-375)
  19. Addendum 7: Dr Bloch and the Genesis of Hitler’s Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 376-377)
  20. Addendum 8: Hitler and Psychiatrists
    (pp. 378-379)
  21. Notes
    (pp. 380-492)
  22. Index
    (pp. 493-511)