On June 2, 1878, having escaped injury from an assassination attempt by Max Hödel barely three weeks earlier, Kaiser Wilhelm I was seriously wounded when Dr. Karl Nobiling fired a shotgun blast from a window overlooking Unter den Linden. When the Kaiser began appearing in public again in September 1878 he was often greeted by local delegations of women and children who wished the “aging hero” [Heldengreise] a full and rapid recovery.
This photograph shows the emperor recovering from his wounds at Bad Ems, accompanied by his doctor Ernst Schweninger (1850-1924). Schweninger was a physician to both kings and princes. Beginning in 1883, he helped Prince Bismarck cope with his gargantuan appetite for food, drink, and tobacco. As a result of the strict diet that Schweninger prescribed, Bismarck’s weight fell from 272 pounds in 1879 to 255 pounds in 1881 to 222 pounds in the spring of 1884: postcards were printed showing these statistics as a way to market a “Bismarck Scale” [Bismarck-Waage]. The chancellor’s jaundice, facial neuralgia, migraine headaches, digestive problems, and insomnia declined significantly over this period, although relapses occurred in the decades ahead.