To What Extent Were the Problems Faced by Germany in the Period 1900-1914 Caused by the Personal Rule of Kaiser Wilhelm Ii?

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Source 1 seems to suggest that the Kaiser was the main cause of many of the problems apparent in Germany were due to the unchallengeable authority of the Kaiser. “It was the Kaiser…who insisted on exercising that authority” suggests that the dominance of the Kaiser was responsible for creating a lot of the problems in early 20th century Germany. This view is also shared by the historian John Rohl, who argued that Germany “was run as a ‘functioning monarchy’ with power concentrated in the hands of one man”, and therefore the Kaiser alone was responsible for successes or problems. Source one also suggests that the Kaiser “was responsible for ruining Germany’s relationship with Britain”. A key example of this would be the “Kruger telegram”, in which the Kaiser sent a personal telegram to President Kruger of the South African Republic, congratulating him on defeating British raiders. Not only did this deteriorate the relationship between Britain and Germany, it also drove Britain further away from any sort of alliance between the two. This relationship was further antagonised by the Kaiser, due to his “ill considered-statements”, such as his interview with the daily telegraph in 1908. In this interview he described Britain as “Mad Bulls” and implied that he was the only one stopping war between Britain and Germany. Not only did this increase the tension and suspicion between the two countries, but it also caused problems at home, and contributed greatly to the undermining of Bulow’s chancellorship, forcing him to step down in the summer of 1909. This further increased the instability of the government in the Reichstag. Source 1 also makes reference to the Kaisers “reckless quest for colonies”, which highlights the aggressive natures of weltpolitik and economical imperial expansion. However, the expansion of the German empire during this period was actually bloodless, and
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