Paul von Hindenburg is one of the most important and famous people in German history. Von Hindenburg witnessed the German-French War, the proclamation of the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles and led the German army in the First World War.
During his lifetime, a professional soldier and supporter of the monarchy ended his last official act as Reich President of the Weimar Republic in the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, unconsciously paving the way for the National Socialists to power.
Origin and teenage years:
Paul was born as Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff and von Hindenburg on October 2, 1847 in Poznan as the son of Hans Robert Ludwig von Beneckendorff and von Hindenburg and Luise Schwickart. Already through the line of his father Paul was born into an old-Prussian noble family, whose father was Prussian officer and landowner.
He attended from 1855 to 1857 the public school and then until 1859 the Protestant high school in Poznan.
Paul entered the military service in 1859 and first attended the Kadettenanstalt in Wahlstatt in Silesia until 1863 and then the main cadet institute in Berlin for two years. From 1865 he was for 1 year of Queen Elisabeth, the widow of the deceased Prussian King Frederick William IV assigned as a personal page before he was admitted in April 1866 as a lieutenant in the 3rd Guards Regiment on foot.
With this unit, Paul von Hindenburg also participated in the Battle of Hradec Kralove, which took place on 3 July 1866 during the war between Prussia and Austria and Saxony.
Hindenburg also participated in the Franco-Prussian War from 1870 to 1871, after which the German Empire was proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles and Hindenburg took part as the representative of its guards regiment.
After the war Hindenburg visited the war academy in Berlin from 1873 to 1876 to gain his qualification for the general staff there. After his successful examination, he was subsequently transferred to the General Staff and promoted to captain in 1877. In 1881 he was promoted to Major while Hindenburg served in the General Staff of the 1st Division.
In 1890 he headed the II Department in the War Department, in 1891 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel with which he took command of the Oldenburg Infantry Regiment No. 91 in 1893 and was promoted to colonel in 1894.
Further transportations and lines:
- 15th August 1896 Chief of the General Staff of the VIII. Army Corps in Koblenz
- March 22, 1897 promotion to Major General
- July 9, 1900 promotion to lieutenant general and commander of the 28th Division in Karlsruhe
January 27, 1903 Promotion to the Commanding General of the IVth Army Corps in Magdeburg
- June 22, 1905 promoted to General of the Infantry
Hindenburg was awarded the Black Eagle Order in March 1911 and retired. Hindenburg then moved with his wife to Hanover in the Villa Köhler.
Paul von Hindenburg during the First World War:
With the outbreak of the First World War Hindenburg was reactivated on 22 August 1914 for military service and took over the command of the 8th Army in East Prussia. There he was to repulse the fallen Russian troops, which succeeded Hindenburg in the Battle of Tannenberg from 26 August to 30 August.
His further course in the war:
- promoted to Colonel-General during the Battle of Tannenberg
- September 2, 1914 Award of the Pour le Mérite Order
- 6 to 14 September Battle of the Masurian Lakes
- November 1, 1914 appointment as Commander-in-Chief East
- November 27, 1914 promotion to field marshal
- February 23, 1915 Ceremony of oak leaves to Pour le Mérite
- August 29, 1916 appointment as Chief of the General Staff of the field army
- December 9, 1916 Awarding of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
- March 25, 1918 Award of the special stage for the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, the so-called Hindenburgstern
After the capitulation of the German Empire and the abdication of the Emperor, Hindenburg, in cooperation with the new republican government, sought to calm turmoil in the German army and prevent a revolt.
On June 25, 1919 Hindenburg resigned from his post as chief of the General Staff of the Army and left his last place of work Kolberg, after he publicized before the Weimar National Assembly, the famous "dagger legend", according to which the German army was unbeaten on the battlefield, but was stabbed from behind by the red November Revolution.
The political way:
After taking over his military posts Hindenburg moved back to Hannover in the zoo district, where he moved into a villa that was provided by the city. In the following years he undertook many journeys through Germany, especially through East Prussia, where he enjoyed great popularity after the victory at the Battle of Tannenberg.
In the meantime, political chaos prevailed in the Weimar Republic. This also included the post of Reich President, whose election in March 1925 did not produce a majority for one of the candidates. At the insistence of the politically right-wing parties, Hindenburg, after initial hesitation, tempted himself to be nominated as a candidate for the election of the Reich President. He was able to win these on April 26, 1925 and thus succeeded the succession of Friedrich Ebert.
Political dissension, however, persisted, and after the last grand coalition was broken, on March 29, 1930, Hindenburg appointed Heinrich Brüning of the Center Party as Chancellor of a Minority Cabinet, without notifying Parliament in advance. This started the so-called Presidential Cabinet, whose goal was the elimination of parliament, but Hindenburg never succeeded.
Although Hindenburg at the beginning of some emergency decrees, but these were repealed in June 1930 by the Parliament, so Hindenburg this dissolution.
In 1932 Hindenburg was able to win the election for President again, but at that time had to face the two strong parties KPD and NSDAP. These were able to achieve great success in the last elections and thus put the government under considerable pressure.
Hindenburg and the rise of Adolf Hitler:
On 2 December 1932 Hindenburg appointed Kurt von Schleicher as the new Chancellor. This tried right at the beginning to remove parts of the Nazi Party from Hitler, but when this failed, he suggested Hindenburg dissolve in front of the Reichstag and for the time being to leave no new voting. Since this step had represented a breach of the constitution, Hindenburg withdrew his support from Schleicher.
On January 30, 1933, the appointment of Adolf Hitler became the new Chancellor. Wilhelm Frick and Hermann Göring of the NSDAP were also represented in the cabinet with him. Although Hindenburg initially distanced himself from Hitler, over time he continued to come under his influence. Thus, with the support of Hindenburg, Hitler was able to dissolve the Reichstag on February 1, 1933, and issued several emergency laws which in effect overruled basic rights.
Since June 1934, Hindenburg withdrew more and more from the political events in Berlin and traveled to East Prussia on his estate.
The end of life:
Already in mid-1934, the health of Hindenburg deteriorated due to a bladder complaint. On the morning of 2 August 1934 at 9 clock Hindenburg died on his estate Gut Neudeck.
Just one day before the death of Hindenburg, Hitler dissolved the Cabinet and read the office of the Chancellor with that of the Reich President together on his person.
Hindenburg's request for his funeral on Gut Neudeck did not go against Hitler. He had the corpse buried at the memorial of the Battle of Tannenberg, as this battle is unmistakably connected with Hindenburg.
At the end of the Second World War and the advance of the Red Army in Prussia, Hitler read the coffins of Hindenburg, his wife and the Prussian kings Frederick II and Frederick William I of the monument in a Thuringian salt mine, where later by the US Army were taken up and moved to Marburg. There, Hindenburg and his wife were finally buried in the north tower chapel of the Elisabethkirche.
- September 24, 1879 Wedding with Gertrud von Sperling
- Daughter Irmengard Pauline Louise Gertrud
- Son Oskar Wilhelm Robert Paul Ludwig Hellmuth of Beneckendorff and von Hindenburg was born on January 31, 1883
- Daughter Margarete von Beneckendorff and von Hindenburg born on September 20, 1897
You can find the right literature here:
Out of My Life (Classic Reprint)
It is not my intention to write an historical work, but rather to interpret the impressions under which my life has been spent, and to define the principles on which I have considered it my duty to think and act. Nothing was farther from my mind than to write an apology or a controversial treatise, much less an essay in self-glorification. My thoughts, my actions, my mistakes have been but human. Throughout my life and conduct my criterion has been, not the approval of the world, but my inward convictions, duty and conscience. The following pages of reminiscences, written in the most tragic days of our Fatherland, have not come into being under the bitter burden of despair. My gaze is steadfastly directed forward and outward. I gratefully dedicate my book to all those who fought with me at home and in the field for the existence and greatness of the Empire.
Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism (Military Profiles)
With his victory over the Russian army at the battle of Tannenberg in August 1914, Paul von Hindenburg became a war hero. By 1916 he had parlayed an exaggerated reputation for decisive victory into near dictatorial powers. After Germany’s defeat at Verdun and War Minister Erich von Falkenhayn’s dismissal in late 1916, Hindenburg, along with his chief of staff Erich Ludendorff, took over strategic direction of the war. The eponymous Hindenburg Program attempted with some success to mobilize Germany’s economy for war. He also oversaw many of Germany’s most important wartime decisions, including the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, Bethmann Hollweg’s dismissal as chancellor, Russia’s defeat and negotiation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and the “Ludendorff Offensives” of 1918, which sought decisive victory on the Western Front but ended in Germany’s catastrophic defeat. After the war, Hindenburg played a crucial role in creating the Dolchstosslegende (the myth that the German Army had been “stabbed in the back” by a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy on the homefront), in leading Germany as president of the Weimar Republic, and, most tragically, in acquiescing to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
Hindenburg: Power, Myth, and the Rise of the Nazis (Oxford Historical Monographs)
Hindenburg reveals how a previously little-known general, whose career to normal retirement age had provided no real foretaste of his heroic status, became a national icon and living myth in Germany after the First World War, capturing the imagination of millions. In a period characterized by rupture and fragmentation, the legend surrounding Paul von Hindenburg brought together a broad coalition of Germans and became one of the most potent forces in Weimar politics.
Charting the origins of the myth, from Hindenburg's decisive victory at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914 to his death in Nazi Germany and beyond, Anna Menge explains why the presence of Hindenburg's name on the ballot mesmerized an overwhelming number of voters in the presidential elections of 1925. His myth-an ever-evolving phenomenon-increasingly transcended the dividing lines of interwar politics, which helped him secure re-election by left-wing and moderate voters. Indeed, the only two times in German history that the people could elect their head of state directly and secretly, they chose this national icon. Hindenburg even managed to defeat Adolf Hitler in 1932, making him the Nazi leader's final arbiter; it was he who made the final and fateful decision to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933.