German Army Field Marshal, German President. Born in Posen, East Prussia (now part of Poland), he served as a junior officer in the Prussian military wars with Austria in 1866 and with France in 1870 to 1871. In 1896, he became a General, but retired in 1911. When World War I began in 1914, he was recalled to active duty, and became commander of the German Eighth Army, with General Erich Ludendorff as his Chief of Staff. The pair of men worked well together, and held the German Army together through four years of war. In August 1914, his army defeated the Russians at the Battle of Tannenburg, and again, in 1915, at the Battle of Masurian Lakes. In August 1916, he was promoted to Field Marshal, and to command of the entire German Army on the eastern front, and later was given command in the western front. In 1917, he built the Siegfried Line in northeastern France, to shorten the western front, thus allowing troops to be moved east to fight Russia, ultimately putting Russia out of the war by August 1917. In September 1918, the western allies broke through the line (they called it the Hindenburg Line) and in November 1918, Germany sued for peace. In 1925, Hindenburg was elected as President of Germany, and was easily reelected in 1932. The Great Depression, which began in 1929, caused large scale unemployment and led to public support of the Nazi Party, which promised to end the economic depression and to restore Germany's honor as a nation (lost due to defeat in the World War). Despite this shift in public popularity, Hindenburg won reelection easily as President in 1932, but by 1933, the Nazis had become the strongest party in Germany, and Hindenburg was forced to name the Nazi Party leader, Adolph Hitler, as his Chancellor, on January 30, 1933. When Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934 at his estate in Neudeck, East Prussia, Hitler abolished the office of the President, and combined the offices of President and Chancellor into one office, Der Führer (the Leader), assuming the powers of both offices. Using Hindenburg's popularity with the people, Hitler had him buried in the Tannenberg War Memorial Monument in East Prussia (now a part of Poland), site of Hindenburg's greatest victory in the First World War. Hitler also honored him by having his portrait on all silver coins issued by the Third Reich. In 1946, after World War II destroyed much of Europe, his remains were removed to the Elisabethkirche in Marburg, Germany.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson