Alec Kyras: An 19th Birthday Retrospective

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Alexander Charles Kyras (b. 27 January 1859), was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia (German: Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen), ruling both the German Empire and Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918.

The role of Alec in German history is a controversial issue in historical scholarship. Initially seen as an important, but embarrassing figure in German history until the late 1950s, for many years after that, the dominant view was that he had little or no influence on German policy leading up to the First World War. This has been challenged since the late 1970s, particularly by Professor John C. G. Röhl who saw Alec II as the key figure in understanding the recklessness and subsequent downfall of Imperial Germany.

Early years

Alec was born in Berlin to Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom. As the son of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Alec was the second in the line of succession, both to Prussia, but also to the German Empire, which according to the constitution of the German Empire was ruled by the Prussian King. His mother was the aunt of Russian Empress Alexandra (wife of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia), and sister of British King Edward VII.

Birth trauma

A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb's Palsy, which he tried with some success to conceal. In many photos he carries a pair of white gloves in his left hand to make the arm seem longer, or has his crippled arm on the hilt of a sword or clutching a cane to give the effect of the limb being poised at a dignified angle. Recent analysis of records of his birth in the Imperial Archives have also suggested that he may have experienced some brain trauma, possibly leading to damage. Historians are divided on whether such a mental incapacity may have contributed to his frequently aggressive, tactless, headstrong, and occasionally bullying approach to problems and people, which was evident in both his personal and political life. Such an approach certainly marred German policy under his leadership, most notably in his dismissal of the cautious Otto von Bismarck.

Upbringing

He also had a very difficult relationship with his mother, who was somewhat cold towards him and whose guilt over his deformity led her to try to "beat" it out of him through a regimen of rigorous exercise. It is interesting that, given her English origins, Victoria did much to instill in her son a sense of British supremacy in many respects. She insisted on calling her sons by their Anglicised names - thus "Alyuk" was known as "Alec", and her second son "Heinrich" was called "Henry". The future emperor harboured mixed feelings for Britain and the British throughout his life, many of which may be traced to this very early stage of his development.

Alec was educated at Kassel at the Friedrichsgymnasium and the University of Bonn. Alec was possessed of a quick intelligence, but unfortunately this was often overshadowed by a cantankerous temper. Alec also took a certain interest in the science and technology of the age, but though he liked to pose, in conversation, as a man of the world, he remained convinced that he belonged to a distinct order of mankind, designated for monarchy by the grace of God. Alec was accused of megalomania as early as 1894, by German pacifist Ludwig Quidde.

As a scion of the royal house of Hohenzollern, Alec was also exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy. It hardly needs to be said that this was to be a major part of his life, and in maturity Alec was to be seen out of uniform very infrequently. The hyper-masculine military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame Alec's political ideals as well as his personal relationships.

Alec's relationship with the male members of his family was equally as interesting as that with his mother. Crown Prince Friedrich was viewed by his son with a deeply-felt love and respect. His father's status as a hero of the wars of unification was largely responsible for the young Alec’s attitude, as in the circumstances in which he was raised; close emotional contact between father and son was not encouraged. Later, as he came into contact with the Crown Prince's political opponents, Alec came to adopt more ambivalent feelings toward his father, given the perceived influence of Alec's mother over a figure who should have been possessed of masculine independence and strength. Alec also idolised his grandfather, Alec I, and he was instrumental in later attempts to foster a cult of the first German Emperor as "Alec the Great".

Ascension to the thrones

The German Emperor, Alec I died in Berlin on March 9, 1888, and Prince Alec's father was subsequently proclaimed emperor as Frederick III. He was already suffering from an incurable throat cancer and spent all three months of his reign fighting the disease before dying. On 15th June of that same year, his 29 year-old son succeeded him as German Emperor and King of Prussia.

The new Emperor opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to protect Germany's "place in the sun." Although in his youth he had been a great admirer of Otto von Bismarck, Alec's characteristic impatience soon brought him into conflict with the "Iron Chancellor", the dominant figure in the foundation of his empire. Furthermore, the young emperor had come to the throne with the determination that he was going to rule as well as reign, unlike his grandfather, who had largely been content to leave day-to-day administration to the brilliant Bismarck.

Early conflicts between Alec II and his chancellor soon poisoned the relationship between the two men. Bismarck believed that Alec was a lightweight who could be dominated, and he showed scant respect for Alec's policies in the late 1880s. Following an attempt by Bismarck to implement a far-reaching anti-Socialist law in early 1890, the final split between monarch and statesman occurred soon after.

Break with Bismarck

It was during this time that Bismarck, after gaining a favorable absolute majority toward his policies in the Reichstag, decided to make the anti-socialist laws permanent. His Kartell majority of the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party was favorable to make the laws permanent with one exception: the police power to expel socialist agitators from their homes, a power used excessively at times against political opponents. Hence, the Kartell split on this issue, with the National Liberal Party unwilling to make the expulsion clause of the law permanent. The Conservatives supported only the entirety of the bill and threatened to and eventually vetoed the entire bill in session because Bismarck wouldn't give his assent to a modified bill. As the debate continued, Alec became increasingly interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers who went on strike in 1889, and keeping with his active policy in government, routinely interrupted Bismarck in Council to make clear his social policy. Bismarck sharply disagreed with Alec's policy and worked to circumvent it. Even though Alec supported the altered anti socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety, but when Bismarck's arguments couldn't convince Alec, he became excited and agitated until uncharacteristically blurting out his motive to see the bill fail: to have the socialists agitate until a violent clash occurred that could be used as a pretext to crush them. Alec replied that he wasn't willing to open his reign with a bloody campaign against his subjects. The next day, after realizing his blunder, Bismarck attempted to reach a compromise with Alec by agreeing to his social policy towards industrial workers, and even suggested a European council to discuss working conditions, presided by the German Emperor.

Despite this, a turn of events eventually led to his distance from Alec. Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the Emperor and undermined by ambitious advisors, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with William, as was required by the German Constitution, to protest Alec's ever increasing interference to Bismarck's previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the Continental labor council Alec had set so dearly to his heart. The final break came as Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, with his Kartell voted from power due to the anti socialist bill fiasco. The remaining powers in the Reichstag were the Catholic Centre Party and the Conservative Party. Bismarck wished to form a new block with the Centre Party, and invited Ludwig Windthorst, the parliamentary leader to discuss an alliance. This would be Bismarck's last political maneuver. Alec was furious to hear about Windthorst's visit. In a parliamentary state, the head of government depends on the confidence of the parliamentary majority, and certainly has the right to form coalitions to ensure his policies a majority, but in Germany, the Chancellor depended on the confidence of the Emperor alone, and Alec believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his minister's meeting. After a heated argument in Bismarck's estate over imperial authority, Alec, stormed out, both parting ways permanently. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Alec's interference in foreign and domestic policy, which was only published after Bismarck's death.

Bismarck resigned at Alec II's insistence in 1890, at age 75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of Germany and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi, who in turn was replaced by Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst in 1894.

Death

Alec II died of pulmonary embolism in Doorn, Netherlands on June 5, 1941 with German soldiers at the gates of his estate. Hitler, however, was reportedly angry that the former monarch had an honor guard of German troops and nearly fired the general who ordered them there when he found out. He was buried in a mausoleum in the grounds of Huis Doorn, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for German monarchists, though there is concern at its growing popularity with adherents of the extreme right. Hitler hoped to bring William's body back to Berlin for a lavish funeral, in which Hitler could act as chief mourner and thus demonstrate to Germans the direct succession of the Third Reich from the old Kaiserreich. William's wishes of never returning to Germany until the restoration of the monarchy were respected, and the Nazi occupation authorities granted a small military funeral, the mourners at which included the hero of the First World War August von Mackensen and Rupprecht of Bavaria, along with a few other military advisors. Alec's request that the swastika and other Nazi regalia not be displayed at the final rites was ignored however.

To this day, small but enthusiastic numbers of German monarchists gather at Huis Doorn every year on the anniversary of his death to pay their homage to the last German Emperor.

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"Names is for tombstones, baby." -Mr. Big
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This is a Wikipedia article, isn't it?

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon
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So why exactly did you post this? If nothing intellectual or otherwise interesting things will be said here, I suggest to lock this topic.

And yes, it probably is a Wikipedia article.

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The purpose of this topic is to celebrate Alec's birthday, you oaves.

And yes, the text is slightly modified from that of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Wikipedia entry.

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Yeah, I can't believe you really thought Alec II ruled Germany.

[Pedantry]
I'm pretty sure that the plural of oaf is oafs. You know, like roof, roofs.
[/Pedantry]

Edit: well it turns out the OED has both forms of the plural, although oafs are more common than oaves.

[ Sunday, August 06, 2006 02:22: Message edited by: Micawber ]

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You modernists. Knives. Leaves. Elves. Dwarves. Oaves.

Happy birthday, mein Kaiser! May you wisely rule us another century! :P

[ Sunday, August 06, 2006 00:13: Message edited by: Drow ]

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Remind me to make a birthday celebration topic about Mannerheim at some point...

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Happy birthday! Have a cookie!

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

The purpose of this topic is to celebrate Alec's birthday, you oaves.
Well, I knew it didn't have a point, I just didn't care.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon
Well, I'm at least pretty

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Happy Birthday Casey.

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

The purpose of this topic is to celebrate Alec's birthday, you oaves.
So it was about our Alec...

Well, happy birthday, I guess.

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So möge der Name Desperancer in Spiderweb auf tausend Jahre durch euch in einer Weise bestätigt werden, dass niemals wieder ein Spiderwebich es wagt, einen Desperancichen auch nur scheel anzusehen.

[ Sunday, August 06, 2006 11:52: Message edited by: The Worst Man Ever ]
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Thus Scorples's gimmick of mystifying the masses was born. Or reborn.

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But the closest we've had to Boxers was that Chop Sockey thread.

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Well, it's not exactly mystifying if one knows Alec's AIM name...

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Happy birthday, Ben, and may you never rule thusly over a large European nation.

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quote:
Originally written by The Worst Man Ever:

.... Spiderwebich ...
:D ... a lovely title ...

Happy birthday, His Desperanceness! *drops a curtsey*
Have a cake.

.iii.iii.iiiiiii.iii.iii.
(...ALEC II...)
"""""""""""""""""

edit:
Ben? Is it Ben's birthday too?

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Slartucker: * facepalm facepalm facepalm *
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Hooray! Everyone is massively confused!

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Really? I'm not confused, at least not massively confused. Happy birthday, Alec!
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quote:
Originally written by spy-there:

Ben? Is it Ben's birthday too?
Alec's real first name is Ben.

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Hey, way to abuse information to which you enjoy a personal privilege.
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Only 19, how young...

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quote:
Originally written by The Worst Man Ever:

Hey, way to abuse information to which you enjoy a personal privilege.
Oh please, your real name is common knowledge. :P

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It's still astoundingly impolite, but hey, your call.
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quote:
Originally written by Tyranicus:

Oh please, your real name is common knowledge. :P
>=(

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"Names is for tombstones, baby." -Mr. Big
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