This photograph, taken during the autumn of 1906, depicts a thirty-two-year-old Winston Churchill alongside the Kaiser of the German Empire, Wilhelm II. The Kaiser had invited Churchill to Germany to observe military demonstrations and parades which were occurring near the city of Breslau. Though this Churchill is much younger than the iconic, scowling Roaring Lion that led England through the Second World War, he was still very much a celebrated public figure at this time – being an elected Member of Parliament, as well as veteran of various wars on three different continents, including the still fresh-in-memory Boer War in Africa.
At the demonstrations, Churchill reported that he was impressed by the rigorous discipline of the German Army, but was disappointed by their lack of appreciation for modern weapons – the kind of which many, in only less than a decade, would see their grand debut during the First World War. The Kaiser Wilhelm seems to have agreed – in the years following, the German Army would change their focus and begin to incorporate these new technologies into their ranks. It would be during these years that the Kaiser pushed to dramatically increase the size of the German Navy, so as to rival England’s, with the end goal of being able to use it as a political bargaining chip to sway England to its will – a decision cited by many historians as being one of the Kaiser’s many reckless political decisions that contributed to the start of the Great War.
If you enjoyed learning about this photograph of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Winston Churchill, be sure to check out other photos on the website! You can also learn 10 interesting facts about Winston Churchill and more about Wilhelm II in King George V, Tsar Nicholas II & Kaiser Wilhelm II: Cousins at War!