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How Wicked – Horrid

David Blackbourn: Two Duff Kings, 15 July 1999

Young Wilhelm: The Kaiser’s Early Life, 1859-88 
by John Röhl, translated by Jeremy Gaines.
Cambridge, 979 pp., £45, October 1999, 0 521 49752 3
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... in 1991; Lamar Cecil needed two books to capture the life, the second published in 1996. Now comes John Röhl, with the first of three projected volumes. Wilhelm himself, to whom modesty was always a mysterious idea, would doubtless have been pleased by the thought of a thousand-page doorstopper devoted to his youth. It is unlikely that he would have ...

How powerful was the Kaiser?

Christopher Clark: Wilhelm II, 23 April 2015

Wilhelm II: Into the Abyss of War and Exile, 1900-41 
by John Röhl, translated by Sheila de Bellaigue and Roy Bridge.
Cambridge, 1562 pp., £45, February 2014, 978 0 521 84431 4
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... contemporaries) much more by what he said than by what he did. In the third and final volume of John Röhl’s immense biography of Wilhelm II, the Kaiser’s voice is the thread that holds the text together. On page after page, he cajoles, whines, demands, vociferates and babbles, bombarding his interlocutors (and the reader) with fantastical ...

Nicky, Willy and George

Christopher Clark: The Tsar, the Kaiser and the King, 22 October 2009

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One 
by Miranda Carter.
Fig Tree, 584 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 670 91556 9
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... of taking the oath on the day of the coronation’. After 12 years under the tutelage of John Neale Dalton, a 32-year-old curate with an ‘impressively booming voice’, George was still ‘deficient in even the most elementary subjects’, including spelling and grammar. Georg Ernst Hinzpeter, the man selected to oversee the education of the ...

Theme-Park Prussia

David Blackbourn, 24 November 1994

Prussia: The Perversion of an Idea 
by Giles MacDonogh.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 456 pp., £20, July 1994, 1 85619 267 9
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... to his – or was it her? – friends. Social exclusiveness as such is not an issue here: John Röhl and Isabel Hull, following Norbert Elias, have shown what we can learn by looking at court society and the aristocratic milieu. The problem arises when the part is confused with the whole, MacDonogh’s symbol of the 19th-century flight from East ...
Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust 
by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.
Little, Brown, 622 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 316 87942 8
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... Jews in public’. Kaiser Wilhelm II, whose genocidal outbursts have been meticulously recorded by John Röhl, said of Kristallnacht that it made him ashamed of being a German. These hesitations become important when we consider another category that forms part of Goldhagen’s evidence, namely opponents of the Nazi regime, even active members of the ...

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