The Life of Wilhelm II

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12284

Oooops! Sometimes, that's enough. But when you may have been the cause of a war, regret is little consolation. Learn about the man who is blamed for starting World War I and decide if he is to blame!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever done something you regret?
  • I mean, really regret? Like, destroying the world?

War is a terrible thing, but even as far as wars go, World War I was one of the worst ever.

The conflict took at least 15 million lives and destroyed much of Europe. When things go wrong on that scale, we naturally want to find someone to blame. Very often the person who takes the most blame for World War I is a German man named Wilhelm.

Times were different then. The map of Europe was not fixed with the mostly-permanent countries we have today. It was a realm of empires, each competing with the other. The Russians, the Austrians, the Germans, the British, the French, and others, each had their own empire that was constantly struggling for greater and greater power.

Militarism — the spread of the weapons used to fight wars — and nationalism — the feeling that your people are greater than other people — were spreading across Europe quickly. Something was bound to go wrong, and it did.

Learn more about the Great War, as it was called at the time. As you read World War I Facts, make notes on the answers to these questions.

  • How did it officially begin?
  • Which countries were involved in the war?
  • How long did the war last?

When you are finished reading, consider the following questions.

  • Why did they change the name of the Great War to World War I?
  • Why does Germany often get blamed for World War I?
  • What made this war especially terrible?

Historians have had over a century to examine and re-examine the evidence about the start of World War I. In order for the conflict to start, many, many pieces had to fall into place just the right way.

In the Got It? section, learn about the life of the man most often blamed for the start of the war, Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last emperor of Germany.

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