There is another quotation which often surfaces when William’s anti-Semitism comes up for discussion. On 15 August 1927 William wrote to his American childhood friend Poultney Bigelow. “Press,” he said, “Jews and mosquitoes… are a nuisance that humanity must get rid of in some way or another. I believe the best would be gas?” With the knowledge of the process of extermination carried out in Hitler’s camps, the mention of Jews and gas naturally sends shivers down the reader’s spine. William had no such information at hand, and the juxtaposition of the three elements — journalists, Jews and mosquitoes — would tend to imply that he was in a jocular mood. His sense of humour was ever cruel.

Giles MacDonogh, “The Last Kaiser: The Life of Wilhelm II”.

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