Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg
(02.10.1847 - 02.08.1934)
The eldest of three sons, young Paul was educated at the cadet schools in Wahlstatt (Silesia) and in Berlin. He joined the Prussian army in 1866 as an 18-year old second lieutenant and immediately saw action against the Austrians at Königgrätz. He subsequently served during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and was awarded the Iron Cross for his participation in the engagement at Sedan. He later served with the legendary Count Alfred von Schlieffen on the Great General Staff.
After rising to the rank of infantry general and corps commander, he retired in 1911 at the age of 65. Called out of retirement in August 1914 to replace the inept Eighth Army commander Prittwitz, he and his chief of staff Ludendorff quickly sealed their heroic reputations against the Russians at Tannenberg. Hindenburg was nonetheless considered the figurehead of the two and even had the nickname Field Marshal "Was Sagst Du" for his habit of, when pressed for a decision, always deferring to Ludendorff with "so what do you think?"
As Supreme Commander of
the Eastern Front (Ober-Ost 1914-16), he also
commanded the Ninth Army (1914) and later Army Group
Hindenburg (1915-16). He then became Germany's Chief of
General Staff (1916-19) during which time he and Ludendorff effectively
established a military dictatorship. Hindenburg remained in command of
the German Army until July 1919. Awarded the Grand Cross
in 1916 and in 1918, he was one of only two recipients to ever win the Grand
Cross with Breast Star (other honoree was von Blücher). He later served as Germany's
President (1925-34) and infamously appointed Hitler as Chancellor in
2 October 1847: Paul von Hindenburg is born on the family estate in Posen (present-day Poznan, Poland). His aristocratic father was a former Prussian Army officer (major), and his mother, Luise Schwickart, was a doctor's daughter.
1 April 1859:
enters the military institute at Wahlstatt, Silesia and later the
military academy in Berlin
1870 - 1871: serves as an adjutant in the 3rd Guards Foot Regiment during the Franco-Prussian War. Engaged at Sedan, St. Privat, and the battles for Paris. Awarded the Iron Cross and promoted to Oberleutnant (senior lieutenant). Hindenburg's nephew and future field marshal Erich von Manstein also began service with the 3rd Guards Foot in 1906.
1873 - 1876: attends Königliche Kriegsakademie in Berlin and graduates with honors.
1 April 1878: transferred to Great General Staff and promoted to Hauptmann (captain).
1879: marries Gertrude von Sperling in Stettin. The couple later have two girls and one boy.
1 May 1881: transferred to the 1st Infantry Division in Stettin where he serves as staff officer.
1 April 1884: transferred to Fraustadt/Posen as company commander in 3rd Posensches Infantry Regiment Nr.58. Later describes this experience as most important time in his military education.
1 July 1885: sent back to Great General Staff in Berlin and promoted to Major.
1 July 1888: transferred to III. Army Corps headquarters in Berlin and serves as staff officer in operations section (I.a.)
1 July 1889: reluctantly serves as department chief in Prussian War Ministry and promoted to Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel).
1 April 1893: transferred to Oldenburg to command Infantry Regiment Nr.91 and promoted to Oberst (colonel).
August 1893: Hindenburg's mother, Luise Schwickart dies.
15 August 1896: transferred to Koblenz/Rhein where he serves as VIII. Army Corps chief of general staff; promoted to Generalmajor (major general).
1 July 1901: transferred to Karlsruhe to command the 28th (Badischen) Infantry Division; promoted to Generalleutnant (lieutenant general).
27 January 1903: transferred to Magdeburg as commanding general of IV. Army Corps; promoted to General der Infanterie (general of infantry).
31 December 1911: retires from military and lives in Hannover. He is also designated as commander a la suite (honorary) of the 3rd Guards Foot Regiment.
22 August 1914: called out of retirement to command Eighth Army, with Ludendorff as his deputy and Max Hoffmann in charge of operations; after routing the numerically superior Russian Army in the battles for Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes, Hindenburg becomes a cult figure in Germany, a symbol of certain victory.
18 September 1914: receives command of Ninth Army.
1 November 1914 - August 1916: becomes supreme commander of German military forces on the Eastern Front. Headquarters named Ober-Ost.
5 August 1915: receives command of Army Group "Hindenburg."
30 July to 29 August 1916:
briefly commands Army Front "Hindenburg."
March 1917: establishes the German armies on the Western Front in a system of trenches across northern France known as the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line), which the Allied armies could not break through until October 1918.
26 October 1918: Hindenburg and Ludendorff acrimoniously part company as the Kaiser accepts Ludendorff's resignation but asks Hindenburg stay in office as an important symbol of German unity.
30 June 1919: retires from military service for the second and final time.26 April 1925: elected President of the Weimar Republic.
1927: Hindenburg's memoirs Aus Meinem Leben (Out of My Life) is published. He claims that the defeat of the German Army was caused by the domestic revolution that had overthrown the German Empire.
28 March 1930: appoints Heinrich Brüning as Chancellor of the Reich.
10 April 1932: re-elected as President of the Reich as a symbol against Nazi lawlessness.
30 May 1932: replaced Brüning with Franz von Papen, who is then replaced in December by Kurt von Schleicher.
30 January 1933: Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, freeing the way for National Socialism in Germany.
2 August 1934:
At the age of 86, the much revered national figure dies at his Neudeck
estate in Marienwerder, and shortly thereafter Hitler overthrows
Germany's constitutional government. Hindenburg was originally interred
at the Tannenberg memorial, but in 1945 his body was moved to the
Elisabethkirche in Marburg an der Lahn.