Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest Post: 9th November, 1918 - Rosevelt Rebukes Harboring the Kaiser


In 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany crossed the border by train and went into exile in Holland. But it took the "Dutch Courage" of Neiu Nederlander President Theodoor van Rosevelt to insist that Dutch Queen
Wilhelmina extradite Kaiser Wilhelm II, a "big stick" to prevent the rise of a future generation of dictators.

Upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article  227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm "for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties",
but Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies. King George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as "the greatest criminal in history", but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George's proposal to "hang the Kaiser". President Woodrow Wilson of the United States rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the  peace.

And therefore we can say with certainty that the extradition and subsequent hanging of the Kaiser was the result of a precipitous twist of fate. Because in 1664, a freak storm had sunk the English Fleet
before it could seize New Amsterdam. Somehow, the Dutch Republic had held onto the Colony, which later emerge as one of the Eastern Sea-board mini-states after the American Revolution. By the early twentieth century, Neiu Nederlands was completely autonomous, and governed by the charismatic figure of Theodoor van Rosevelt. An unflinching advocate of the projection of military power by democratic governments, his intervention in the extradition crisis would be truly historic. Because as time would tell, the Kaiser's hanging would discourage the rise of dictators during the turbulent 1930s, proving that the wrong-headedly idealistic Wilson was quite completely mistaken. And what really mattered to keeping the peace in the real world was ensuring that would-be belligerents were kept in a constant fear of the firm use of authority by the democracies.

The emergence of a leadership role for the American  mini-state was wholly unexpected. Even though Holland remained neutral throughout the war, van Rosevelt had travelled to Washington to tell Wilson that the American Dutch would bravely join them. This was but the first step on the world stage. He would prevail upon Queen Wilhelmina, and later, at the Paris Peace Conference, persuade the victor powers to establish a League of Nations with a robust collective security policy: a bully club for the smaller nations to fight world domination. After all, who could be sure that a future German dictatorship would respect Dutch neutrality?

- from Today in Alternate History

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