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As Head of State and Commander-in Chief of the German forces, Wilhelm II (1858 – 1941) was particularly active in the expansion of the German Navy in the years building up to the First World War. Following the news of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Kaiser was quick to encourage the ultimatum presented to Serbia by Austria-Hungary which included a demand for condemnation of anti-Austrian propaganda. Despite an exchange of telegrams between the Kaiser and his cousins King George V and Tsar Nicholas II, Wilhelm’s familial ties with the monarchs of Britain and Russia would not be enough to stop the conflict.
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