Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand von
Kronprinz von Bayern K.H.
(18.05.1869 - 02.08.1955)
place of birth: Schloss Leutstetten bei Starnberg (Bavaria)
Königreich Bayern: Kronprinz,
One of Germany's ablest frontline
commanders, the Crown Prince of Bavaria (Wittelsbach) was
born to King Ludwig III, the last Bavarian king, and his wife Maria
Therese, the Archduchess of Austria. As her son, Rupprecht was
ironically the Jacobite heir to the British throne, although in his
later years he strongly discouraged supporters in the United Kingdom
from making claims on his behalf. Crown Prince Rupprecht spent his
prewar years serving chiefly with infantry units and achieved the rapid
rise in rank common to royal officers (he was promoted to major general
by the age of 31). In the years leading up
to the war, he served as a divisional commander and also was in command
of Bavaria's I. Army Corps for seven years.
The outbreak of hostilities in August 1914
found Colonel General Rupprecht von Bayern in charge of the largely
Bavarian Sixth Army, a group he would command on the Western Front
throughout the war. Also serving on his staff during the war was the
young lieutenant and future WW2 Chief of General Staff, Franz Halder.
During the Battle of the Frontiers, the Bavarian
Crown Prince's forces were tasked with holding the southern flank of
the Western Front in Lorraine. After successfully
withstanding the French offensive there, Rupprecht convinced Chief of
General Staff von Moltke to permit a large German counter-offensive,
which ultimately failed due in part to the geography of the area.
During the "Race to the Sea", he was appointed to a
new Sixth Army in Flanders, remaining on this part
of the front for the rest of the war. In 1915 he was awarded the Pour
le Merite for holding the line at the Artois Front,
and in August 1916 he was promoted to field marshal, receiving command
of an army group consisting of the First, Second and Sixth Field Armies.
The newly promoted Field
Marshal Rupprecht clashed often with Moltke's replacement, Erich von
Falkenhayn, and later became a bitter enemy of Ludendorff's due to
their differences over ultimate war objectives. The Bavarian Crown
Prince recognized the need to bring the conflict to a close many months
before his superiors at Supreme Command came to the same conclusion;
but as his armies engaged the Allies on the Scheldt
and Lys rivers in the fall of 1918, he still
expected that "the Prussians would fight on to the last Bavarian."
After the war, Rupprecht lived in Austria with
his only surviving son Albert. When his mother Maria Therese died in
1919, he succeeded to all of her British rights and was thereafter
recognized by the Jacobites as "King Robert I and IV" although they
generally referred to him as "King Rupert". He then moved back to
Germany, living in his castle at Berchtesgaden and marrying his second
wife, Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, who happened to be the first
cousin of his first wife Marie Gabriele. When his father died in 1921,
many Bavarians recognized Rupprecht as their king.
During the Nazis' initial
push for power, one of the main reasons Rupprecht declined
participation in Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch was
because of the presence of Ludendorff, whose violent attacks on
Catholicism repulsed him. His opposition to the Nazi Party forced him
to seek asylum in Italy during the late 1930's. Although he remained in
Florence throughout the Second World War, successfully evading capture
by the Nazis in 1944, his wife and children were actually imprisoned in
Nazi concentration camps. He traveled the world wide, publishing many
books about his adventures, and he also acquired a noteworthy art
collection over the years. Crown Prince (King?) Rupprecht died at
Leutstetten Castle in August 1955 and was interred at the Theatiner
Church in Munich. At his funeral, the royal crown and Bavarian scepter
were withdrawn from the State Museum and placed upon his coffin.
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