Somehow missed this when I posted mine up. This is awesomeThe Kaisermanöver in summer 1900 is a watershed moment for European and Global history. Not so much for the exercises themselves, but rather for what happened in the immediate aftermath. The incident that Kaiser Wilhelm II described as 'the day that blasted animal decided to attempt a coup' saw the Kaiser be thrown by his horse for the first time in a very long time. What was more, it then proceeded to clip the imperial head with one of it's hooves, sending Wilhelm into a three week coma.
The offending horse can be seen led by the reigns
Once he awoke, those around him quickly noticed a number of personality changes, as such things are wont to cause. He expressed a now intense dislike for horses, and would, indeed, ever only sit on one of them if there was absolutely no choice. However, the idea that this incident is the reason why cavalry so quickly fell out of favour in Germany in the years to come is blatantly false. Wilhelm approached horses with an understandable weariness from then on, but never had a malicious hatred towards them as animals. In fact, the horse that had caused the accident eventually died of old age at Castle Hohenzollern.
Somewhat more amusingly, he also banned any and all smoking in his presence, saying when asked that tar belonged onto the streets and not into ones lungs, and that he had no desire to end like his father.
What was a more drastic change was a complete overhaul of foreign and military policy. In terms of the former, Wilhelm sought improved relations with the British Empire and the United States of America, being perfectly willing to sacrifice his naval ambitions for that goal. In his private diaries, released to the public in 1989, forty-one years after his death, he described any naval race with the British race as 'a pointless measuring contest'* and that maintaining the balance of power in the world was reliant on keeping the USA far away from any European conflict. He also described his dream of an Anglo-German Alliance against their common foes, opining that 'the greatest Navy and the greatest Army in the world, side by side like in the days of Napoleon' would certainly be enough to keep Russia and France at bay. However, he would only see this come to pass in his later years during the Second Global War (1938 - 1944). This desire is exemplified by the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1904 (re-negotiated after the appearance of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, and then once again in 1919 and 1927) which is the cornerstone of the Portsmouth Treaty to this day.
Generally, the German military saw great reform and a massive mechanization effort, from more machine guns than anyone in a pre- First Global War Europe thought sane over the creation of the 'Universal lorry' designed for cheap and quick mass production above all else to first embryonic experiments with armoured vehicles. This is most exemplified by the foundation of the Imperial German Air Force just in time for the outbreak of the First Global War in 1915. How much he can be credited with the East First strategy is debated still, but it is confirmed that he ended all talk of an offensive through Belgium, stating that he'd rather use the Alsacian fortresses to show how stupid it was to charge machine guns with Cavalry than his precious Infantry. In the long term it must be said that he likely realized after signing the Naval Treaty and lengthy talks with the British establishment that attacking Belgium was a Very Bad Idea if one wanted an at the very least neutral British Empire.
Kaiserliche Luftwaffe JaSta 26 three months before the outbreak of the war. It was in this unit that later Chief of the Combined General Staff Manfred von Richthofen would earn his spurs
Leichter Panzerwagen I, first deployed in 1915, albeit with limited success. The markings applied to this example would be more accurate for the early 1920s, and applied to the much-improved Mod. C version of the Panzer I
Changes were also afoot domestically even before the war, but when it ended in summer 1918, the German Empire set about 'winning the peace' , in the Kaiser's own words. Throughout the 1920s,among many other radical measures, worker's rights were strengthened, anti-semitism was fought at every turn, the power of the Reichstag was greatly increased, albeit differently than in the UK (though even today, the German Monarch has more powers and plays a more active role than his or her British counterpart, for example, or the title 'King/Queen of Prussia' always being the title given to the Heir Apparent) and steps were taken to generally strengthen the German economy against sudden, dramatic shifts. This latter part especially would come to be a good idea come the crisis of 1931.
Although he had shifted to a less active role by 1938, when the Second Global War broke out, Wilhelm II insisted on attending the funeral of Edward VIII in London during what would be some of the darkest days of the war, at the request of his godchild, the future Queen Elizabeth II. This gesture was heavily criticized in Germany at the time, but together with his personal friendship with George VI, is generally credited for how smooth and painless the 1939 Portsmouth Alliance treaty was accepted by the British populace.
By 1942, his health declined. But between the best medical care available and his ingrained stubbornness, he lived long enough not only to see the end of the war, but also to have one of his last public appearances be opening the 1948 Olympic Games in Berlin, a replacement for the cancelled games in 1916 and loosing the competition for the 1936 games to Ottawa. Reportedly, his last words were: "Damnit, I wanted to make it to the 50s!", but this is generally considered to be apocryphal.
Wilhelm II, German Emperor (27th January 1859 - 9th November 1948)
Today beloved by the Germans, respected by the Portsmouth Treaty powers, disliked in France and hated in the USSR
*the version that was released to the public had a certain NSFW word removed.
EDITed for typos and a few small additions.