Trial of Kaiser Wilhelm II
Objective: To determine whether or not Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was ultimately responsible
for the outbreak and escalation of the Great War through a trial procedure (using the American
judicial system). The date of the trial is January 1919.
Students will be chosen by the teacher to play one of the following roles:
1. Defense Team: Two Attorneys who will take turns in direct and cross- examinations of
witnesses. This team may also include the defendant-Kaiser Wilhelm II.
2. Prosecution Team: Two attorneys who will take turns in direct and cross examination of
3. Judge: To keep order in the courtroom, hear and rule on objections as well as submitted
4. Bailiff: To keep order in the courtroom. Act as a barrier between the attorneys and the
judge. Swear in witnesses.
Prosecution: These witnesses may or may not like Wilhelm, but should be used to help damn
him (get a guilty verdict).
1.) Woodrow Wilson - president of the United States during the war. Angry at the Germans
because of unrestricted submarine warfare.
2.) Otto Von Bismarck- long time chancellor of Prussia who united Germany…some say he broke
down the balance of power in Europe while others credit him with setting up a stable alliance system
in Europe. He was angered that Wilhelm broke down this system.
3.) Raymond Poincaré - President of France at the time of the war's outbreak, also knew the dealings
of the French Premier, Viviani.
4.) King Albert - King of Belgium and a witness to the destruction of its cities
5.) Tsar Nicholas II (Romanov) - "Tsar of all the Russias” at the start of World War I. Also knew
6.) A member of the Krupp Family (name?_______________) owned a "city within a city" which
produced weapons in Germany. Demonstrates Germany’s militaristic nature at the time.
7.) Sir Edward Grey - key official in the United Kingdom at the start of the war. Pushed the cabinet to
go to war after the German invasion of Belgium but earlier made many peace deals
1.) Count Leopold von Berchtold - Austrian foreign minister at war's outbreak, representative of the
court for the now dead Franz Joseph II, emperor of Austria.
2.) Theobald von Bethman-Hollweg - Chancellor of Germany at the start of World War I
3.) Gavrilo Princip - as a member of the "Black Hand" he assassinated and killed Archduke Franz
Ferdinand of Austria.
6. The rest of the class will be members of the jury. Since this role is “passive”, Jury members
and the Bailiff will be required to take notes and write a Position Paper. It will be written
in the character you have chosen for yourself using only evidence presented during the trial.
It must be no longer than two pages, typed and double-spaced. I will let you know when it
is due (which won’t be until after the trial).
Responsibilities of Characters
1. Do research on each witness and the case in general
Sources: Mr. Davey, SHS library, Saratoga library, SCU library.
2. Prepare opening and closing statements.
3. Prepare questions for witnesses.
4. Meet with your witnesses and prepare them for your questions and your opponent’s
5. Know the procedures of the trial.
6. Bring visuals-videos, pictures, graphs etc. if desired as evidence.
7. Dress up!
8. You are graded out of 40 points, with the possibility of extra credit if you do an outstanding
1. Do research on your character. Know how they thought about the war, the leaders involved
and the countries involved.
2. Meet with your lawyers to prepare your answers for the trial.
3. Dress up!
4. You are graded out of 30 points with the possibility of extra credit if you do an outstanding
1. Keep order in the courtroom.
2. Know the court procedures and follow them.
3. Introduce the judge and swear in witnesses.
4. Take detailed notes.
5. Paper and notes due after trial.
6. You are graded out of 25 points.
1. Keep order in the court. Make sure that when lawyers object, they don’t argue with each
other. They should be addressing the bench in a proper and respectful manner.
2. Know the procedures and follow them
3. Trial should be done in 3 days.
4. I will provide you with a robe and a gavel.
5. You are graded out of 30 points with the possibility of extra credit if you do an outstanding
You must be here for all three days of the trial. If you are not here, you will receive a zero for the
Outline of Trial
1) Kaiser Wilhelm II was directly responsible for the outbreak of the Great War.
2) Kaiser Wilhelm II was directlyresponsible for the escalation of the Great War.
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Franz Joseph II
1. Opening statements
a. 3 minute limit
b. Prosecution, then Defense
2. Prosecution presents case with their witnesses
a. 5 question limit
b. Be direct with questioning
c. Prosecution may not ask leading questions at this point
d. Defense gets a chance to cross-examine each witness
e. Defense can ask leading questions at this point
3. There is no redirect in our trial
1. Defense presents case with their witnesses
a. 5 question limit
b. Be direct with questioning
c. Defense may not ask leading questions at this point
d. Prosecution gets a chance to cross-examine each witness
e. Prosecution can ask leading questions at this point
2. There is no redirect in our trial
1. Wrap up any loose ends
2. Closing statements
a. 3 minute limit
b. Prosecution, then Defense
3. Judge reads instructions to jury
4. Jurors meet and vote
5. If convicted, judge decides on punishment
Trial Procedures in Detail
Reason for Trials
The term” due process of the law” was inherited from England and dates back to the signing
of the Magna Carta. It was embodied in many state constitutions before being adopted into the 5th
and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The full wording of this particular phrase as see in
the Constitution is “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of
the law.” The term demands that laws and procedures shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or
capricious. This places certain limitations on the court. The purpose of the trial is to decide whether
or not to deprive an individual or group of life, liberty, or property using due process of the law.
The job of the prosecution is to convince the jury that the defendant (Kaiser Wilhelm II) should
indeed be deprived of the above-mentioned items as punishment for a crime (starting and/or
escalating the Great War.) The defense must refute the arguments of the prosecution and prove that
the defendant either did not commit the crime/crimes, or was not fully responsible for their actions
at the time.
The purpose of the trial is to determine the guilt or innocence and decide upon a suitable
punishment. In such a case, the trail jury will vote upon guilt or innocence after both sides have
made their closing statements. A representative of the jury (the jury foreman) reads the verdict. If
innocent, the judge dismisses the case and the defendant cannot be retried for the same crime. If
guilty, the judge pronounces the sentence. The defendant may appeal the decision, but as this is a
classroom situation, there will be no appeals. In our case the defendant is accused of a felony and if
convicted faces the penalty of death or imprisonment.
Opening the case
The bailiff opens the case with the customary dialogue listed below.
Bailiff: “All rise. The court is now in session. The Honorable (name) presiding.”
Judge: “You may be seated.”
Bailiff: “Your honor the first case is the People versus Kaiser Wilhelm II.”
Judge: (Look at the defense team) “What are the charges and how does the defense plead?”
Defense: (Answer the judge’s question and then make the following statement) “I call to the
Bailiff: “Raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the
whole truth so help you God?”
Defense: (Direct these questions to each and every witness when directly examining them)
“What is your name? Where do you live? What is your occupation? What is your
relationship to the defendant? These questions do not count on your five question limit.
Repeat the process of calling each witness and swearing in each witness.
Preparing for the Case
Carefully examine all materials you are given. Study the Simplified Rules of Evidence and
the Instructions for Attorneys. Then become familiar with the fact statement and witness
statements. Notice conflicting statements by the witnesses. Decide which points you want to
emphasize to prove your case.
Review the questions you have developed for direct examination of you witnesses with the
persons playing these roles. It is your job to help these witnesses become credible, or believable.
Consider having the witnesses dress appropriately for their parts and assume mannerisms that lend
credibility to their roles. Well-prepared witnesses increase your chances of success. You may want
to prepare each witness for cross examination by having a member of your team play the opposing
attorney. If a witness is asked for information not contained in the witness statement, he or she
should give an answer that is consistent with the statement and that does not materially affect the
facts of the case.
Opening Statement In the opening statement, you introduce yourself and the defendant. Outline
the case from your point of view. Tell the jury what you plan to prove. This is the first time you
meet the jury so, whether you are the prosecuting attorney or the defense attorney, you want to
establish a cordial relationship with them.
Direct Examination Begin by establishing the identity of your witness. Ask each witness the
following questions: “What is your name? Where do you live? What is your occupation? What is
your relationship to the defendant?” Then ask your witnesses questions that will allow them to paint
a broad picture of the case from your point of view. Avoid complex, wordy or involved questions.
Keep it simple and take the witness’s testimony by small steps. Try to follow a chronological
order. For example, ask, “what happened first? Then what did you do?”
Cross-Examination: Cross examination is entirely different from direct examination. Now you
want to weaken the testimony of the opposition’s witnesses. Use leading questions. Try to get the
witness to contradict his or her written statement. Then read the written statement to the witness
and ask “do you remember making this statement under oath?” once you have made your point,
stop the questioning.
Redirect (Optional) You can recall a witness in order to repair damage caused by the opposing
lawyer. You can also pursue further a point that has been raised in earlier testimony. Questions must
be confined to points raised in the last examination and are usually brief.
Closing Arguments In the closing argument, you summarize your case by reminding the jury that
you have proven what you said you would. Point out the testimony that supports your case and
damages you opponent’s. correct any misconceptions or ambiguities. Be an advocate! Argue your
point of view dynamically. Organize your arguments so your case can be clearly understood. Do
not forget to point out the bias or prejudice of the other side’s witnesses, but do not ridicule them.
You do not want to lose the sympathy of the jury.
Examination of Witnesses
This is the time when attorneys call and question their own witnesses.
Form of Questions Witnesses may not be asked leading questions during direct or redirect
examination. A leading question is one that suggests to the witness the answer desired by a
questioner or suggest a “ye” or “no” answer. Direct and redirect questions should be phrased to
evoke a narrative answer: “will you tell us, please, what happened after you entered the house on
the morning of July 5th?” Character evidence about the character of a witness may not be
introduced unless the person’s character is an issue in the case. For example, whether someone has
been a responsible parent is an issue in a child-custody case, but is not an issue in a criminal trial
During Cross examination, attorneys question witnesses on the opposing side.
Form of Questions Attorneys SHOULD ask leading questions during cross-examination. They
should phrase their questions to avoid narrative answers. Generally a witness being cross-
examined should be held to a “yes” or “no” answer: “isn’t it true that on the morning of July 5th,
you told Miss Smith that you hated your neighbor?”
Scope of witness examination Witnesses must be called by their own team of attorneys and may not
Impeachment Attorneys try to impeach the credibility of the opposition’s witnesses. They may do
this by asking questions during cross examination that cast doubt on earlier testimony or by
showing that testimony just given on the witness stand conflicts with a previously sworn
statement. An attorney may also question a witness about prior conduct in a way that raises doubt
on the ability of the witness to tell the truth.
ADDITIONAL RULES OF EVIDENCE
Hearsay: A witness may legitimately testify only to that which he or she has actually experienced.
Any evidence of a statement made by someone who is not in the courtroom and available for cross-
examination is not allowed. A judge would allow an objection to the comment: “I overheard
someone say that he told her he saw Carlotta”
Witness Opinions: Witnesses may not give opinions on questions that require a special body of
knowledge unless they are qualified as experts. The questioning attorney must bring out the expert’s
qualifications- education, experience, present employment- before asking for an opinion.
Relevance of Evidence: Lawyers can only ask questions that have a bearing on the trial.
Anytime a lawyer believes the opposing lawyer has violated a rule of evidence he or she can object.
The judge then decides whether a question or answer must be discarded because it has violated a
rule of evidence (objection sustained) or where to allow the question or answer to remain on the
trial record (objection overruled)
Possible Reasons for Objections
Question is irrelevant: The question does not pertain to the case. You must cite why you think the
question is irrelevant.
Leading Question: This is when a lawyer puts words into the mouth of a witness. For example, the
lawyer say, “Didn’t you steal the candy bar? Instead of “What did you do on the night of March 7,
2001 in the supermarket?”
Hearsay: The answer would be what someone told the witness rather than what he or she knew
Opinion: Asking for opinions not facts. Witness is asked a question that he or she is not qualified to
Badgering the witness: Acting obnoxious, rude, insulting, or making inappropriate comments or
Attorneys should use the following forms when raising objections
Irrelevant Evidence “I object, your Honor. The testimony is irrelevant to the facts of this
Leading Question “Objection. Counsel is leading the witness. (this may, however, be done
Improper Character testimony “Objection. The witness’s character or reputation has not
been put into issue here.
Hearsay “Objection. Counsel’s question is based on hearsay. IF the witness responded
already, ask that the response be stricken from the record.
Opinion – “Objection. Counsel is asking the witness to give an opinion he or she is not
qualified to give.”
Judge Rules on Objections
The judge must rule on objections. You can either “sustain” (strike out the question or ask the
lawyer to reword the question) or “overrule” (allow the question) the objection. You may ask for an
“offer of proof” in which the lawyer asking the question must explain to the court the reason the
question is relevant, and what evidence his/her questions will bring out.
Jury Charge (The judge should read this at the end of the trial before the jury deliberates)
“Members of the jury, you are about to deliberate and decide the verdict in the case of the people
versus Kaiser Wilhelm II. You are hereby charged to obey the law as I will explain it to you. Your
job is to determine what the true facts are and determine if the defendant has broken the law. You
are not to allow sympathy or animosity for either of the parties in this case to sway your
determination of the facts or your interpretation of the law. In order to convict Kaiser Wilhelm II f
the charges brought against him, you will need a majority of the jury to convict him. Remember
that you are the sole judges of credibility. You alone are to determine the witnesses you believe. If
there is any conflict in testimony, it is your job to resolve the conflict and determine where the truth
lies. You must weight the evidence and reach a verdict. Good luck!”