Friday, 5 August 2011

The Perversity of Providence

For some reason, I was thinking today about the Kaiser's arm.  You may perhaps know the story that the medical team - they blamed a midwife - by over-enthusiastic use of  forceps pulled his arm out of its socket before he was born, and it never grew right.  This was injury enough, but a kind nanny told him his mother was so repelled by him that she refused to breastfeed him.  The truth was that the ladies at the Prussian royal court thought breast-feeding vulgar, and so, despite being urged by her mother, the Crown Princess followed the local custom.  Her mother was Queen Victoria, sovereign of England and its Empire, and mother to nine children.  No slouch in either international affairs, or motherhood.  The Kaiser was there when his grandmother died - with an arm under her pillow.  He couldn't swap sides, because his other arm didn't work.

So, the Kaiser - Wilhelm II to his unfortunate people - grew up with a grudge - quite understandably.  He developed an obsession with the many uniforms to which he was entitled, altering them to make his stunted arm look more normal.  When he shook hands with people, his already ferocious grip was enhanced by turning the bejewelled rings on his fingers inwards, so they cut into the skin of his victims.  And he hated his Uncle, King Edward VII, who had established the Entente Cordiale by the simple virtue of being nice to people.  And liking French coffee.  Wilhelm preferred the other way of doing things.

And one thing led to another.  He became obsessive about military things, built up a navy to rival England's, and was itching for a war that would avenge him on his mother and her family.  He didn't dare do it whilst his Uncle was alive, and he knew his grandmother would have been disgusted, his mother despairing.  But when they were all safely dead, he took the first opportunity he could, and launched his people into the Great War, "the War to end all wars".  If only that had been true.  The casualties were immense, the costs to Germany's people, economy, and self-understanding, were immense.   And, by, popular demand, he was the last Emperor of the Germans.  

The cost to the rest of Europe was equally immense, and the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for that strutting ponce, Adolf Hitler, to sieze power, cheer the Germans up, and then wreak yet more horrific tyranny and bloodshed.

The Kaiser was forced into exile in Holland, where he lived for many more years, refusing, with a dignity and sense that had eluded him when he had actual power, to have anything to do with the Nazis.  He died in 1941.

All this, because of a clumsy midwife.

Providence, eh?


  1. Providence is something which you receive from a bountiful God, not necessarily for asking, but for trusting totally in him.

    Just thinking of the Ministry of Fullard Miller who went from Riches to Rags, literally in his ministry, by changing his life completely and trusting in God's providence, and he was never failed.

    There other lives I have read of who set this example, trusting in God's providence seems to me to be the way. When I consider my own life, mainly ignoring God, he hasn't ignored me. He has given me gifts that really have made my life complete, which I can on reflection are things I would not necessarily have achieved myself.

    Having renewed my faith, I've learned to see providence in a new light, and thank God for his blessings ever since.

  2. Light is the key, isn't it? To have a Mixed Metaphor Fest!