The paralytic arm of Kaiser Wilhelm B

  • Nikolaos G. Markeas
  • Dimitrios G. Begkas
  • Anastasios Daras
Keywords: obstetric; paralysis; brachial plexus; Kaiser Wilhelm B; First World War


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.


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Author Biographies

Nikolaos G. Markeas

Athens Children’s Euroclinic

Dimitrios G. Begkas

Sixth Department of Orthopaedics, General Hospital “Asklepieion” Voula, Athens

Anastasios Daras

Athens Children’s Euroclinic


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