Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Greedy Ambition: The Comical Kaiser Bill

The war's premier source of ridicule and derision—at least among the Allied nations and the U.S.—was Queen Victoria's grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, who morphed into "The Beast of Berlin," in good part due to his incorrigible habit of making provocative and belligerent statements. In this cartoon by American Orson Lowell from the Library of Congress collection, the Kaiser hangs by a noose which is attached to a plank of wood marked "Greedy Ambition." Figures representing other countries which fought Germany during World War I, such as Uncle Sam, John Bull, and Marianne, push a globe from under his feet using their arms and wooden levers. In the background, a man in a uniform stands alone, holding a ring labeled "Russia." A dove of peace is perched on the ring, symbolizing Russia's recent declaration of peace. The editors have overlayed several versions of a popular rhyme of the day about Wilhelm.

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  1. Love the cricket reference!

  2. Well deserved characterization. As the war progressed he fairly quickly lost effective rule which was taken over by the military. Maybe Hindenburg should have been a bigger target for the Allied media?