The old warhorse put to rest
Today, 84 years ago, the lion that was the 6′ 5″ German Field Marshal and President Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg shuffled off to the great parade ground. He had the unique lot in life to accomplish most of the heavy lifting in his life after he had already retired.
Born 2 October 1847 in Posen, old Hindy became a military academy cadet at age 11 as expected and by age 19 was a lieutenant in the 3rd Garderegiment of the Imperial Prussian Army riding off to fight the Austrians. He later saw combat against the French in 1870 as a battalion adjutant and retired from the military in 1911 at the mandatory retirement age of 64, sure the service was done with him.
Then, of course, came WWI and a rushed call to return to the colors to fight to Russians in East Prussia (where he took much of the credit from Max Hoffman for Tannenberg), a move so ad hoc the sexagenarian appeared at his new headquarters at Marienberg just three weeks into the war still decked out in his old blue Prussian uniform, reeking of mothballs.
He died at age 86, while still on public service in the last gasps of the Wiemar Republic, the bridge from the old monarchy to something far worse. Soon after the old lion’s death, his son, Maj Gen. Oskar von Hindenburg, was discharged from the Reichswehr while only 51, and retired to his family estate, later testifying against Franz von Papen– who persuaded his father to appoint Hitler as Chancellor– at Nuremberg after WWII.