The Kaiser

The Kaiser


Though Ben Strange’s cartoons were described as ‘never gross, and never such as to give needless pain or offence to their subject’, when it came to Kaiser Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia, he was less gentle.  Strange often portrayed the Kaiser as weak, cowardly and often hiding behind his bed sheets. He also liked to draw a pig dressed in a toga, or a vulture wearing a pickelhaube, the tradition spiked helmet of the German army, to represent Germany and its allies.

‘“Santa Claus” Visits the Kaiser’, Western Mail December 21, 1917. Ben Strange enjoyed sending Kaiser Wilhelm II a Christmas message. In this cartoon he is placing the blame for all of the deaths caused by World War One directly at the feet of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) with his distinctive moustache.

The Sunday Time August 9 1914

‘Germany’s Uncrowned King’ Western Mail December 8 1916. Ben Strange having fun showing the Kaiser cowering in bed in fear as his popular chief of the German Army, Paul von Hindenburg, usurped him as the leader of Germany.

‘A.D. 1915’ Western Mail January 7 1916. Ben Strange in this cartoon bluntly shows the death and destruction caused by Germany during 1915.

‘The Winged Lion’ Western Mail March 15, 1918. In this cartoon Ben Strange is celebrating reports of air raids by allied forces into Germany. The paper that day carried a report of over one and quarter tons of bombs being dropped on factories in the German city of Stuttgart.

The “Waits” Christmas 1916

Western Mail 22December, 1916

Christmas is meant to be a time of peace and goodwill, not war and destruction. The four figures in the cartoon are the leaders of the Central Alliance (L-R) Mehmed V, 35th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Charles I, Emperor of the Austro Hungarian Empire and Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany.

In December 1916 the Central Alliance suggested peace negotiations be started and that they had been forced into the war. Strange shows the hypocrisy of the Central Alliance calling for peace when, as he and his readers believed, they were responsible for starting the war.

Two of a Kind

Western Mail 7 December, 1917

Burglars broke into the Kaiser’s palace in Wilhelmshaven and carried off numerous urns, Portland vases, and ancient weapons of great artistic value. (Cable)

Bill Hohenzollern to Bill Zykes: “Donner und blitzen, tog toant eat tog

Translation: Thunder and flash (lightning), (the rest is made up German)

In this cartoon Ben Strange uses the robbery of the Kaiser’s Wilhelmshaven Palace, as an opportunity to ridicule Wilhelm II and to show him as being no different to the burglar. The cartoon also turns the Kaiser into a commoner by using the Anglicised nickname for Wilhelm, ‘Bill’, and his family name.