Felix Schwormstädt, Der Kaiser während des Besuchs in einer Artilleriestellung
Felix Schwormstädt (1870-1938)
[The Kaiser visiting the Field Artillery]
Illustrierte Weltkriegschronik der Leipiger Illustrierte Zeitung 1915
Kaiser Wilhelm II in his role as general. His official title was Commander in Chief of the German forces, but it was the Chief of the German General Staff, at the outbreak of war Helmut von Moltke the Younger, who was really in charge of military operations. Wilhelm had appointed his eldest son commander of the German Third Army Corps, but the younger Wilhelm was equally dependant on his staff. Kaiser Wilhelm is portrayed in a impressively martial pose, every inch the field commander. The soldiers look up to him in awe (and apparently somewhat perturbed), while in contrast he remains cool, calm and collected. He is the only one to wear a fur-lined coat, which serves to illustrate his superior status, but is also a welcome device for covering up the Kaiser’s limp and powerless left arm.
In the background a gun is being loaded. This appears to be a model 1913 field gun, which could fire about two rounds a minute. If it were to be fired the Kaiser is in for a nasty surprise, for the blast will rudely interrupt the conversation. The leather helmets which were worn in the German army until 1916 are covered with a protective cloth, which also hides the insignia. The soldiers’ helmets do not have the familiar spike, the ‘pickelhaube’, but a ball on top, to indicate that they serve in an artillery regiment. The officers wearing spiked helmets in the background are obviously part of the Kaiser’s retinue.