Primary Documents - Kaiser Wilhelm II on German Rule in Northern France

German Kaiser Wilhelm II Reproduced below is an alleged extract of a letter sent during the initial months of the war by the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz-Josef I.

Officially published by the French government in 1919 (i.e. after the end of the war) the letter extract clearly implied that the Kaiser advocated (and therefore approved of) the use of terror by German troops who passed through northern France.

The authenticity of the letter has not however been proven.

Kaiser Wilhelm II to Emperor Franz-Josef I on the Subject of German Rule in Northern France, 1914

My soul is torn asunder, but everything must be put to fire and blood.  The throats of men and women, children and the aged must be cut and not a tree nor a house left standing.

With such methods of terror, which alone can strike so degenerate a people as the French, the war will finish before two months, while if I use humanitarian methods it may be prolonged for years.

Despite all my repugnance I have had to choose the first system.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

A "red cap" was a British military policeman.

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