Hindenburg, Paul von Beneckendorff und von
(1847–1934)
   Prussian General Field-Marshall and Chief of the General Staff Paul von Hindenburg began his career with entry into a military school at the age of 12. Hindenburg participated in the German Wars of Unification and served in the German General Staff and the Prussian Ministry of War. His active military service ended in 1911 at the age of 63.
   His later military career began in World War I, when he was recalled on August 22, 1914 to command the Eighth Army after its disastrous performance on the Eastern Front. Together with his Chief of Staff Erich Ludendorff, he achieved fame and admiration as the victor of the Battle of Tannenberg, and was subsequently one of Germany’s most popular military leaders, rivaling the kaiser in popularity. His military successes included the occupation of large parts of Russian Poland and the Baltic states. Hindenburg and Ludendorff’s intrigues against Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn finally paid off in August 1916 when Hindenburg replaced Falkenhayn and formed, with Ludendorff, the Third Army High Command, which increasingly resembled a military dictatorship. The Hindenburg-Programme aimed at expansion of armament production and the economy for the war effort. The “Hindenburg Line” was the name given to the area of the Western Front where Ludendorff had effected a strategic retreat, and the far-ranging demands he planned for a victor’s peace were known as the “Hindenburg-Peace.” Hindenburg supported the declaration of the Kingdom of Poland, the unrestricted submarine warfare that brought the United States into the war, and the intrigues against Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg and other politicians. As the kaiser’s popularity waned, Hindenburg’s only increased. After Germany’s defeat, Hindenburg’s popularity continued, but Ludendorff was blamed for the Third Army High Command’s shortcomings. Although his military career was finally over upon his second retirement at the age of 71, Hindenburg was to be recalled once more, in April 1925, this time to head the Weimar Republic as its president. It was in that role that he proclaimed Adolf Hitler German Chancellor in January 1933.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Asprey, Robert B. The German High Command at War. Hindenburg and Ludendorff Conduct World War I. New York: W. Morrow, 1991;
    Showalter, Dennis E., and William J. Astore. Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2005.
   ANNIKA MOMBAUER

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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