WILLIAM II., Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia; eldest son of Fred erick III. and Victoria, princess royal of England; born Jan. 27, 1859; educated at Cassel and Bonn, married Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Aug-us. tenburg in 1881, and succeeded his father, June 15, 1888. After his accession he took an active interest in social ques tions, and the strong initiative which he adopted in political affairs brought about the retirement of Prince Bismarck in 1890. He sent a congratulatory telegram to President Kruger when Dr. Jameson's force was defeated in December, 1895.
In 1898 he paid a visit with the empress to Constantinople, where they remained some time as the Sultan's guests, after ward going to Palestine and Jerusalem. In 1902 he sent his brother Henry, Prince of Prussia, on a social visit to the United States, as his representative on the launching of his new yacht.
The outstanding characteristics of William II. were aggressiveness, impul siveness, and a more or less contradictory leaning toward the past, combined with a limited appreciation of many aspects of modern life. In his internal policy, he devoted himself specially to the main tenance and building up of Germany's army and navy, the development of edu cation, and industry. While at first con tinuing the state socialism inaugurated by Bismarck, he began bitterly to oppose the Socialist party and its aims, and then as a result of Germany's change from an agricultural to an industrial country, both the membership and the influence of the Socialists rapidly in creased. In his foreign policy he main tained the Triple Alliance. Toward the latter part of his reign he frequently showed a keen jealousy of England and of her powerful influence over world politics. Although in many of his public
utterances, and indeed, in many of his public acts, he appeared as a believer in world peace, there can be no doubt that in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the World War, he gradually changed his attitude to a more aggressive one. The exact extent to which he waa personally responsible for the outbreak of the World War, and how far it lay in his power in the summer of 1914 to prevent war, cannot be determined until all the facts are known.
After the outbreak of the World War, the Emperor devoted himself more or less exclusively to military affairs, spending most of his time near the various fronts, although, of course, not actively partici pating in any of the fighting. When it became clear, in the fall of 1918, that the German armies on the western front were facing inevitable defeat, and when, at the same time, a series of revolutions in various parts of Germany made it evident that the Imperial Government was about to collapse, the Emperor finally, on Nov. 8, 1918, abdicated. The abdication was announced the following day, although the actual official act was not written and signed until the end of November 1918. It was dated Ameron gen, Holland, Nov. 28, 1918. It was at this place that the Emperor had sought refuge at the castle of Count Bentinck, a Dutch nobleman. Eventually the Dutch Government permitted him to remain after certain guarantees had been re ceived from the Emperor. In 1920 the Emperor purchased an estate of his own a short distance of Amerongen, at Doom, where he continued to live in exile. His wife, ex-Empress Augusta Victoria, died on April 10, 1921.