The paralytic arm of Kaiser Wilhelm B
Through exploring unknown aspects of history, we often discover details that are carefully hidden or written in the margins in fine print. In the context of research, the disability of Kaiser Wilhelm B could not go unnoticed. His paralyzed and atrophic left arm clearly defined his childhood, shaped his character and significantly affected his self-confidence, while providing an opportunity for parents and educators to channel their own obsessions. The decisions that Kaiser made in critical situations when he came of age, especially those that directed the destinies of the peoples of the world, were clearly affected by his physical deficit. Until recently, the medical view of Kaiser’s disability pointed to traumatic paralysis of the brachial plexus during his birth. The diagnosis of obstetric palsy of the upper type (Erb’s type) provided a complete explanation for the image we have of his left upper extremity, as depicted in paintings and portraits or assessed in the few videos and photographs of the time. However, a new point of view comes to shed light on the matter and orient the diagnosis in another direction.
2. Ashton NJ, Hellema D. Hanging the Kaiser: Anglo-Dutch relations and the fate of Wilhelm II, 1918-20, Diplomacy & Statecraft (2000); 11(2): 53-78.
3. Berghahn VR. Structure and agency in Wilhelmine Germany: The history of the German Empire-past, present, and future. The Kaiser: New research on Wilhelm II’s role in imperial Germany, pp. 281-293, 2003.
4. Daoutis NK, Vasileiadis AD, Spyridonos S. Traumatic brachial plexus injuries: our experience on 485 surgical cases. Acta Orthop Trauma Hell (2020); 71(2): 96-105.
5. Mac Lean RR. Kaiser Wilhelm II and the British royal family: Anglo-German dynastic relations in political context, 1890-1914, History (2001); 86(284): 478-502.
6. Venu Jain, et al. Kaiser Wilhelm syndrome: obstetric trauma or placental insult in a historical case mimicking Erb’s palsy. Med Hypotheses (2005); 65(1): 185-191.
7. Carter M. George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: three royal cousins and the road to World War I, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010.
8. Röhl JCG. The Kaiser and his court: Wilhelm II and the government of Germany, Cambridge University Press, 1994.
9. Herwig HH. Luxury Fleet, the imperial German Navy 1888-1918. London: The Ashfield Press, 1980.
10. Ρεμάρκ Έριχ Μαρία. Ουδέν νεώτερον από το Δυτικό μέτωπο, σε μετάφραση Γεωργίας Δεληγιάννη-Αναστασιάδη (τέταρτη έκδοση), εκδόσεις Μίνωας, Αθήνα, 1993.
11. Μυριβήλης Στρατής. Η ζωή εν τάφω, εκδόσεις Εστία, Αθήνα, 1956.
12. Μαρκέας Νίκος. Λαβωμένο Χάρισμα. Δέκα έξι (και μία) προσωπικότητες υπό το ερευνητικό βλέμμα της επιστήμης. Βασδέκης, Αθήνα, 2022.
Copyright (c) 2023 Acta Orthopaedica Et Traumatologica Hellenica
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.