Monday, October 2, 2017

Born Today October 2: Paul von Hindenburg


Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, better known to history as simply Paul von Hindenburg was born on this date in Posen, Prussia (which became a part of Poland in 1919) to an aristocratic family.  After a long and lofty military career, he served as Germany's president starting in 1925 until his death in in 1934.  Historically, he has become a controversial figure; he is cited by many as the man who gave Germany--and thus the rest of the world--Adolf Hitler by appointing him Reich Chancellor of the country in January of 1933.  To be fair, Hindenburg, who had only met Hitler for the first time in 1931, and was known not to like him, or his dictatorial political ambitions, was reportedly suffering from increasing dementia at the time.  He may have also been motivated to cave to Hitler's naked lust for power, after securing a promise from him that he would move to restore the German royal family; a misguided goal that many early followers of Hitler maintained, and a promise that Hitler would not keep (see, for example, the Stauffenberg family, and Claus von Stauffenberg, the German officer that the film Valkyrie was based on--included in the Wikipedia page is the sickening account of Claus' older brother's execution and Hitler's film of the event).  By the time it became clear that Hindenburg had been seriously deceived, he, personally was in no position to recant.  Not only did he have an ever worsening dementia, he also had cancer that would metastasized to his bladder.  The condition would kill him in 1934.  Still, he remains a deeply troubling historical figure and one that deserves blame for the easy rise to power that Hitler "enjoyed." Hindenburg appeared in at least 3 films, the most famous of which is the 1927 documentary Berlin: Symphony of a Great City  by filmmaker, later turned propagandist, Walter Ruttman.  Hindenburg died on the 2nd of August at the age of 86.  Against his expressed wishes laid out in his will, he was interred--along with his wife--in great pomp and circumstance at the infamous Tannenberg Memorial (he was in fact interred twice there--with the second interment more elaborate and pompous than the first).  In 1945, with the approaching Soviet forces closing in on that section of Old East Prussia, Hindenburg and his wife were moved, they are now viewable at their current location of interment in Saint Elizabeth's in Marburg, Germany (the memorial has been completely destroyed).  A film in 1934 was made of the event of his first burial by Pathe and can be viewed on YouTube here.  

2nd Burial Location above ground at Tannenberg Memorial (Paul von Hindenburg on right)

Current interment 

IMDb (information on the 3 films in which he appeared during his lifetime only)

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