Tuesday 22nd of October 2002 07:04 AM 
Biographies: Miscellaneous Figures

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Please note: I have added flags at the head of each biography in order to give visitors a way of seeing, at a glance, where the person was born, where they spent most of their life, and which side they fought for in the Boer War.

1st Flag=birthplace (if known)
2nd flag=main nation of residence (no second flag if birthplace was nation of residence)
3rd flag=side figure fought (or acted) for

Netherlands - Holland
WILHELMINA, Queen of the Netherlands (1880 - 1962)

Queen WilhelminaQueen Wilhelmina's reign, which lasted for 50 years, was characterised by her shrewd and practical judgement. Despite her wish to remain neutral during World War II (as she had during World War I), after the Netherlands was invaded by Germany she headed the Dutch government in exile in England from May 1940 until July 1945.
Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria was born in The Hague, the daughter of King William III by his second wife, Emma of Waldeck. On her father's death in 1890 the ten-year-old Wilhelmina became queen under the regency of her mother until she was 18. On September 6, 1898, soon after her 18th birthday, she was crowned at Amsterdam. On February 7, 1901 she married Henry Wladimir Albert Ernst, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who died in 1934. Their only child, Juliana, was born in 1909.
Queen Wilhelmina received popular support in her public activities and respected the powers of Parliament under the constitutional monarchy, maintaining the traditional peace and neutrality of her country until the outbreak of World War II. She oversaw a programme of extensive social reform that was introduced to resolve an economic crisis resulting from World War I. At the same time, the development of industry and foreign trade under Wilhelmina's rule brought prosperity to an expanding population.
After Germany's invasion of the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, Queen Wilhelmina escaped to England with her family and leading government officials. She broadcast constantly to the Netherlands during her exile. In 1942 she visited Canada and the United States, where she addressed a joint meeting of Congress, and the following summer she visited President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After the invasion of France by Allied armies in 1944 Queen Wilhelmina remained in London until March 1945, when she visited liberated areas of her kingdom and began to apply herself to the problems of reconstruction. Her daughter, Crown Princess Juliana, had by then rejoined her in London after spending a few years in Canada. After the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the queen's reign in 1948 Wilhelmina, exhausted by illness and stress, abdicated in favour of Juliana. Her memoirs, Lonely but Not Alone, were published in 1958.

Source: The Penguin Biographical Dictionary of Women, Market House Books Ltd 1998.

WILHELM II, King of Prussia and German Kaiser (27 January 1859 - 5 June 1941).

Wilhelm II - King of Prussia and German KaiserMarried Augusta Viktoria (1858-1921), Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein, in 1881; 7 children (6 sons; one daughter); married (second) the widow, Hermine, Princess of Reuss, (1886-1947), in 1922.
The eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm symbolised his era and the nouveaux riche aspects of the German empire. The Kaiser suffered from a birth defect that left his left arm withered and useless. He overcame this handicap, but the effort to do so left its mark, and despite efforts of his parents to give him a liberal education, the prince became imbued with religious mysticism, militarism, anti-Semitism, the glorification of power politics. Some have claimed that his personality displayed elements of a narcissistic personality disorder. Bombastic, vain, insensitive, and possessed with grandiose notions of divine right rule, his personality traits paralleled those of the new Germany: strong, but off balance; vain, but insecure; intelligent, but narrow; self-centred yet longing for acceptance.
Under the guise of training him for his future royal duties, Bismarck sought to mold Wilhelm into a conservative foil against his father's so-called liberalism. The scheme succeeded all too well but backfired when Friedrich died within four months of becoming emperor and Wilhelm proved uncontrollable. Soon after coming to the throne in 1888, Wilhelm distanced himself from his mother and dismissed Bismarck. Setting his own course, albeit a rather directionless one, he abandoned the Iron Chancellor's policy of keeping Russia and Austria-Hungary separated by allying with both. He allowed Germany's ties to Russia to lapse, a vacuum that France quickly filled. Bound now to the fate of Austria-Hungary, the real "sick man" of Europe, Wilhelm sought to break what he called Germany's encirclement. His efforts alternately amused or scared Europe. His penchant for uniforms and vainglorious pronouncements might have merely provoked derision and laughter had he headed some inconsequential nation, but Germany's army and economy dominated the Continent, and wish as they might, Europe's statesmen could not ignore him.
His inferiority complex and a love-hate relationship with England and his uncle (Edward VII) made him easy prey for the blandishments of Admiral Tirpitz and the Navy League. When Germany, the sole European nation with the industrial capability to rival England's naval dominance, began to construct a large, modern fleet, England's reaction was predictable. England viewed the German fleet as a mortal threat to her vital interests and she patched up her colonial differences with first France, then Russia, initiating military discussions with the French in 1906.
Historians still debate Germany's and Wilhelm's complicity in bringing about the war. A stronger indictment emerges from Wilhelm's hesitancy to halt the apparatus of war as it lurched towards the brink, propelled by mobilisation plans and timetables. Wilhelm's last-minute anguish to General v. Moltke over the inflexibility of the Schlieffen Plan belied the fact that the Kaiser had known (and approved) the plan's contents for years. The outbreak of war did occasion one of Wilhelm's best speeches, his "Burgfrieden" (Peace of the Castle) speech in which he rallied all Germans to sublimate internal politics to the prosecution of the war. In that effort he proved a failure. As the war progressed, the professionals increasingly took charge, and Wilhelm retreated to the background. His zeal and spirit seemed to wane with Germany's military progress and, browbeaten into a number of disastrous cabinet appointments by Ludendorff, his popularity plummeted. The final blow came when his ministers and the public understood Wilson's October armistice note to mean that the Kaiser's very presence prevented peace. At the end, his generals told him his troops would march home to restore order, but not in his name. It was best, they said, that he abdicate, but while he temporised, the Majority Socialists declared a republic on the morning of 9 November 1918. After 300 years, the Hohenzollern dynasty was finished.
The Kaiser fled to The Netherlands on 10 November 1918. He purchased an estate at Doorn where he maintained a tiny household. Following the death of the Kaiserine in 1921, he married a widow, Princess v. Schoenaich (Hermine of Reuss) a year later. The same year he published his memoirs, absolving himself of any war guilt. Over the next two decades, he received visitors and kept abreast of events in Europe. After a brief interest in the Nazis, spurred by Hitler's manipulation of the restoration issue, the imperial couple turned against the brown shirts. Death came in 1941, and he was buried on the grounds of his estate.

Source: <http://www.ukans.edu/~kansite/ww_one/bio/w/willyii.html>


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Further Reading

Boissevain, Charles. Open Letter to the Duke of Devonshire and the Struggle of the Dutch Republic. Amsterdam: Roeloffzen-Hubner, 1900. DT930B68.

Butler, J. 'The German Factor in Anglo-Transvaal Relations' in Gifford, P. & Louis, W. R. [eds] Britain and Germany in Africa. New Haven: 1967, pp. 179-214.

Germany. General Staff. History Section. The War in South Africa. London: Murray, 1906. DT930.2W35.

Prussia. Grosser Generalsta▀. Kriegsgeschichtliche EinzelschriftenHeft 32: Erfahrungen Aussereuropaischer Kriege Neuester Zeit. Berlin: Mittler, 1908.