His Majesty’s Birthday, or, Look Who’s Back

Having been to Hell and back last year with His Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm II, my reporting senior, I was by no means certain what might result this year from my annual call to congratulate him on his birthday, January 27.  The British had again been fooling around with our transatlantic cables, so I decided to go “hi-tech”, using Telefunken’s new wireless telegraphy to Potsdam via the big sender at Nauen.  I was surprised when, seemingly not getting through, my telephone rang.  On the other end was His Majesty.

“You got through all right, never fear.  The Russians were supposed to jam our signals to and from Nauen, but we sent them a trainload of vodka and they’re still sleeping it off.  London is leaving our phone lines alone now, after we dropped ten tons of Leberkäse on them in a zeppelin raid.  I’ve heard they are shipping most of it to Scotland where the locals take it for fois gras, or so Dr. Johnson told me.”

“Dr. Johnson can always be relied on when it comes to the Scotts, Your Majesty,” I replied.  “And happy birthday.”

“Thank you, and it is a happy one, for reasons you will soon understand.  It looks as if I will soon be going home.”

That puzzled me.  I went to Doorn, in the Netherlands, this summer, to see where Kaiser Wilhelm lived in exile and where he is entombed.  I know his will specified that he is not to be returned to Germany until that country is again a monarchy.  Could that day be near at hand?

“You’ll see it all plain enough from L-70.  Look for us from your front yard three days hence,” His Majesty said.  “Be ready for some high-altitude flying.”

L-70 was one of our “height-climber” Zeppelins that could rise up to 26,000 feet.  I had heard it was not a pleasant experience, since they were neither pressurized nor heated.  As it happened, I had heard right.

It’s hard missing a Zeppelin hovering low over a Cleveland street, and three days later His Majesty welcomed me on board.  We dropped a couple tons of water ballast, set the elevators for climbing and rose with remarkable rapidity.  No English aeroplane could win a climbing contest with a Zeppelin.

Long before 26,000 feet I was gasping and puking.  The bottled oxygen reduced the former but increased the latter.  His Majesty gave me a hearty slap on the back and told me to buck up.  We hit 26,000 and kept rising.

“Good God, how high is this thing going?” I asked dejectedly.

“High enough to see the future,” His Majesty replied.  At that, I passed out.

When I came to, all was well again.  We were cruising about 500 feet above the beautiful German countryside.  Every town seemed to be staging some sort of political rally or civic event.  Change was in the air.

“What’s going on?” I asked the Kaiser.  

“Some very interesting politics,” he replied.  “Let me fill you in.  The rise of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD) party gave Germans a truly German party.  But the broader growth of what has been termed “populism” in Germany and elsewhere didn’t stop there.  The AFD was a normal, respectable party.  But to its right soon arose something less respectable.  Calling itself the Nationale Deutsche Abiturlose Partei (NDAP), roughly the “National German Party for People Without Degrees,” this party hearkened back not to my Second Reich but to the Third.”

“The NDAP didn’t amount to much until it found a leader,” the Kaiser continued.  “He was an entertainer, a man of uncertain origins who called himself Adolf Hitler, looked like Hitler and seemingly never stepped out of his role.  Like the man he impersonated, he was a highly effective speaker and organizer and a man with a powerful, I would say unstoppable, will to power.”

“It’s a Look Who’s Back scenario!” I said excitedly.

“Yes, indeed, it was Er Ist Wieder Da.  And it had to be stopped.  As a Hohenzollern, the last thing I wanted was to see was Germany again led by an Austrian corporal, first as tragedy and then as farce.”

“So on the night before Christmas, I paid a visit to my descendent Georg Friedrich, the present head of the House of Hohenzollern and rightful King of Prussia and German Kaiser.”

“Did Mr. Dickens perhaps suggest this course?” I asked.

“I recalled it from when I had read Dickens,” His Majesty replied.  “But he was delighted.”

“Anyway, I told Georg Friedrich in no uncertain terms to get off his backside and stop this nonsense, as I would have stopped the Nazis if I had still been Kaiser.  You can thank Woodrow Wilson that I wasn’t.”

“The worst American President ever,” I added.  “He gave the world both Stalin and Hitler.”

“He did, but I wasn’t about to let it happen again.  I told Georg Friedrich to go talk to the AFD.  They needed to shore up their right flank and he was the man to do it.”

“Anyway, he took my advice as Mr. Scrooge took Marley’s and as a result the AFD made Georg Friedrich its leader and he won.  This time, the Left had the sense to back the legitimate ruler instead of leaving the door open for you know who.  In truth, Ebert never wanted me to go.”

“And now Germans have come to their senses and are today rallying and celebrating because the restoration of the monarchy is before the Reichstag and everyone except the NDAP is for it.  Which means I will finally be going home.  And Prussia is back on the map!”

“It seems I have much more to congratulate Your Majesty on this year than another birthday,” I offered.  “I hope this won’t mean we lose our connection.”

“Not at all, my friend, not at all,” the Kaiser assured me.  “I’ve already asked the Garde du Corps to admit you to its mess.”

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.