Kaiser Wilhelm II and the limits of the royal prerogative in German South-West Africa
in Crowns and colonies
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Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was reputed to have been personally involved in and responsible for Germany’s shift to a policy of global expansion (Weltpolitik). Yet the history of the Herero War in German Southwest Africa raises a number of questions. How far did Kaiser Wilhelm II’s prerogative power over the German colonies actually extend, and to what extent did he seek to exert this power to its limits? This chapter shows how the German monarch, notionally possessing prerogative power in the colonies that approached the unlimited, was remarkably absent from decision-making. Whatever the causes of the genocide of the Herero, it cannot be seen as a result of the so-called ‘kingship mechanism’.

Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires

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