Unfounded rumours that Kaiser Wilhelm II is gravely ill sweep Europe

1916/2016: a miscellany

Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond  defended his party’s decision to oppose the Military Service Bill in House of Commons. Portrait by artist Henry Jones Thaddeus, courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland

Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond defended his party’s decision to oppose the Military Service Bill in House of Commons. Portrait by artist Henry Jones Thaddeus, courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland

 

January 15th, 1916 Rumours are sweeping Europe that Kaiser Wilhelm II (pictured) is either gravely ill or dead. Despite official bulletins from his doctors that he is only suffering from a “harmless boil”, many believe the Kaiser is on his death bed or will need his larynx removed, rendering him speechless.

Rumours of his demise were fuelled by his non-appearance at the opening of the Prussian Diet [parliament] a few days previously.

The Irish Times editorial speculates that the only man who can cure him is a French surgeon and that surgeon will, for obvious reasons, not be put at the disposal of the Kaiser.

The paper accuses the Kaiser of being chiefly responsible for the “catastrophe” of the war, and laments that even a change at the top is unlikely to change the course of the war from a German point of view. The paper dismisses his eldest son, the Crown Prince Wilhelm jnr , as a “vicious young man”. Rumours of the Kaiser’s death were indeed exaggerated. He abdicated two days before the war ended and lived the rest of his life in exile in the Netherlands, dying in 1941.

The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) leader John Redmond (pictured) has defended his party’s decision to oppose the Military Service Bill going through the House of Commons. The Bill passed by a thumping majority of 403 to 105, but among the objectors were the IPP and three Labour members of the British coalition government. The Bill conscripted all British men from the ages of 18 to 41 who were unmarried or without children. Ireland was exempted from the Bill.

Mr Redmond said Ireland had taken up the empire’s cause at the start of the war but “without compulsion, Ireland has done all that the military authorities have required of her in the provision of men and will continue to do so”.

Unionist MP Sir John Lonsdale said Ireland’s exemption from the Bill was “bitterly resented” in Ulster, and that it was a source of “humiliation and shame”.

IPP deputy leader John Dillon said Ireland had “more than done her duty in the matter of recruiting”.

He thought it an insult to believe the Irish people needed a conscription Bill “in order to get them to go into a fight”.

EVENTS: On January 26th, at the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen’s Green, Irish artist Fergal McCarthy will respond to the centenary of the Rising with a new exhibition of drawings. They will illustrate the story of 1916 and its impact on the country over the past 100 years in captivating black-and-white drawings with accompanying text.