Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known simply as Paul von Hindenburg; 2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934), was a German general and statesman who commanded the Imperial German Army during World War I and later became President of Germany from 1925 until his death, during the Weimar Republic. He played a key role in the Nazi Machtergreifung in January 1933 when, under pressure from advisers, he appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany.
Born to a family of minor Prussian nobility, Hindenburg joined the Prussian army in 1866 where he saw combat during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars. He retired with the rank of General of the Infantry in 1911, but was recalled to military service at the age of 66 following the outbreak of World War I in July 1914 and shortly thereafter received nationwide attention as the victor of the Battle of Tannenberg. Upon later being named Chief of the General Staff in 1916, his popularity among the German public dramatically increased and produced a large cult of personality. As Wilhelm II increasingly delegated his authority to the Army High Command, Hindenburg and his deputy, General Erich Ludendorff, established a de facto military dictatorship that controlled Germany for the rest of the war.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life in 1925 to be elected the second President of Germany. He defeated Hitler in a runoff to win reelection in 1932. He was opposed to Hitler and was a major player in the increasing political instability in the Weimar Republic that ended with Hitler's rise to power. He dissolved the Reichstag twice in 1932 and finally agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Hindenburg did this to satisfy Hitler's demands that he should play a part in the Weimar government, for Hitler was the leader of the Nazi party, which had won a plurality in the November 1932 elections. In February he approved the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended various civil liberties, and in March signed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave Hitler's regime arbitrary powers. Hindenburg died the following year, after which Hitler declared himself Führer und Reichskanzler, or Supreme Leader and Chancellor, which superseded both the Presidency and Chancellorship.
During World War I, the German Empire was one of the Central Powers that lost the war. It began participation in the conflict after the declaration of war against Serbia by its ally, Austria-Hungary. German forces fought the Allies on both the eastern and western fronts, although German territory itself remained relatively safe from widespread invasion for most of the war, except for a brief period in 1914 when East Prussia was invaded. A tight blockade imposed by the Royal Navy caused severe food shortages in the cities, especially in the winter of 1916–17, known as the Turnip Winter. At the end of the war, Germany's defeat and widespread popular discontent triggered the German Revolution of 1918–19 which overthrew the monarchy and established the Weimar Republic.
The German population responded to the outbreak of war in 1914 with a complex mix of emotions, in a similar way to the populations in other countries of Europe; notions of overt enthusiasm known as the Spirit of 1914 have been challenged by more recent scholarship. The German government, dominated by the Junkers, thought of the war as a way to end Germany's disputes with rivals France, Russia and Britain. The beginning of war was presented in Germany as the chance for the nation to secure "our place under the sun," as the Foreign Minister Bernhard von Bülow had put it, which was readily supported by prevalent nationalism among the public. The Kaiser and the German establishment hoped the war would unite the public behind the monarchy, and lessen the threat posed by the dramatic growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had been the most vocal critic of the Kaiser in the Reichstag before the war. Despite its membership in the Second International, the Social Democratic Party of Germany ended its differences with the Imperial government and abandoned its principles of internationalism to support the war effort.
It soon became apparent that Germany was not prepared for a war lasting more than a few months. At first, little was done to regulate the economy for a wartime footing, and the German war economy would remain badly organized throughout the war. Germany depended on imports of food and raw materials, which were stopped by the British blockade of Germany. Food prices were first limited, then rationing was introduced. In 1915 five million pigs were massacred in the so-called Schweinemord to both make food and preserve grain. The winter of 1916/17 was called "turnip winter" because the potato harvest was poor and people ate animal feed including vile-tasting turnips. During the war from August 1914 to mid-1919, the excess deaths over peacetime caused by malnutrition and high rates of exhaustion and disease and despair came to about 474,000 civilians.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
German Empire (Deutsches Reich) Military Propaganda Postcard-Von Hindenburg
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