Axis Leaders: Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg’s life as a German soldier and leader ran from 1866 to the Third Reich.
by Blaine Taylor At 3 am, on August 23, 1914, a solitary figure stood on a darkened railway platform at Hanover, Germany, awaiting a special train’s arrival from Berlin. As the 67-year-old German Army general waited, two Russian armies of the Czar were laying waste to the East Prussian provinces of the Imperial German Reich of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and this obscure officer—Paul von Hindenburg—had been sent to command the forces it was hoped would drive them out. Now, after a 53-year service record that had seen combat against Austrians in 1866 and French in 1870, Hindenburg was about to enter the most glorious military chapter of his long career. When the train arrived, out alighted a tall, martial figure (though not as imposing as Hindenburg himself) who stiffly saluted and reported: “Major General Ludendorff, your Excellency, by order of August 21st, of the All-Highest’s Military Cabinet, appointed Chief of Staff of the 8th Army.” Hindenburg returned the salute and the two men boarded for the journey east. Together they examined maps and agreed on a plan. Thus was born one of the most famous military partnerships in German history. Early Honors as a Soldier of Prussia The future German Field Marshal and President of the Weimar Republic was born in 1847, and during the course of his 87 years saw the death of both empire and republic, as well as the birth of the Third Reich of the Nazis. He served under three successive Kaisers and was fated to supplant t
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