Kurt Ernst von Morgen
(01.11.1858 - 15.02.1928)
place of birth: Neiße,
Schlesien (Nysa, Poland)
Imperial German general officer Kurt von Morgen fought
during the Great War as a divisional and corps-level commander.
At the outset of the War, General von Morgen headed up 3rd Reserve Division at Tannenberg,
where he disobeyed Eighth Army Chief of Staff Ludendorff by by refusing to advance
on the village of Hohenstein. He spent most of the War in command
of I. Reserve Corps and also lead XIV. Reserve Corps during the last few
months of the War.
Kurt von Morgen was born into the German middle class of Silesia,
only later receiving his noble title. During his pre-war career, he took
part in two research expeditions to Western Africa, exploring the region
of present-day Cameroon, Nigeria, and Chad. As a military observer in
1896-97, he accompanied a British-Egyptian detachment on the Dongala
Expedition to quell the Mahdist Revolt during the Battle of Fehrket.
Morgen additionally functioned as military-attaché in Constantinople,
where he was an official military observer of the Greek-Turkish War of
1897 and was also selected to be one of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Flügeladjutants
(ADC). Back home in Germany, Major Morgen was elevated by the Kaiser
into the German nobility, commanded a fusilier regiment and an infantry
regiment, and in 1912 was selected to command the brigade in Lübeck.
At the outbreak of World War One, Generalmajor von Morgen was
charged with command of 3rd Reserve Division, an independent unit
subordinate to General von Prittwitz' Eighth Army. Von Morgen soon
received a promotion, just as his troops were engaged during the Battle
of Gumbinnen. Ordered to retreat, Generalleutnant von Morgen
initially planned to disobey, but reconsidered and transferred his
troops west to the village of Kirsteindorf. In that area, 3rd
Division provided cover for Eighth Army's left flank during Tannenberg
and remained essentially in the same role as the Germans pushed eastward
to battle the Russians at Masurian Lakes.
In November 1914, von Morgen reported directly to General von
Hindenburg at Ober-Ost that he had no confidence in Eighth Army
commander von Francois, and thus wanted his division transferred to
Ninth Army. Von Hindenburg decided to instead send newly-promoted
Generalleutnant von Morgen to I. Reserve Corps headquarters to replace
Otto von Below as commander. Von Morgen's reservists marched on the left
flank as von Mackensen's Ninth Army pushced southeast into Poland to
fight what would be the Battle for Lodz. It was for Germany's
great success during this battle and for his outstanding leadership that
von Morgen received the Pour le Merite honor. Following
positional skirmishing along the River Rawka, I. Reserve Corps moved to Przasnysz
in February 1915 to fight in support of Armeegruppe Gallwitz.
Through August 1916, the von Morgen's corps had defeated their Russian
counterparts a total of 17 times, taking approximately 14,000
During the autumn and winter months of 1916, I. Reserve Corps
personnel were engaged in the campaign against the Romanian Army.
Generalleutnant von Morgen's leadership was once more acknowledged
through receipt of his PLM Oakleaves. After the route of the Romanians
ended in January 1917, von Morgen's soldiers were recognized for having
captured 53,000 prisoners and almost 60 enemy artillery pieces. I.
Reserve Corps was transferred in March 1918 to the Western Front to be
initially engaged in the region of Upper Alsace. They soon moved to
Lille and then during the summer of 1918 settled near Roye. On 24
August, von Morgen was transferred to Cambrai in order to take
command of XIV. Reserve Corps. They maintained a successful defense of
the area until signing of the Armistice was complete.
In the aftermath of the War, Generalleutnant von Morgen traveled
with his corps back to Soest, Germany, where the demobilization process
was realized. He soon thereafter retired from active duty and was
promoted to the brevet rank of General der Infanterie. In his heart, he
remained loyal to the Hohenzollern Monarchy and rejected approaches by
his old Tannenberg comrade Ludendorff to join the National
Socialists. General von Morgen instead returned to Lübeck, where he had
commanded 81st Brigade during the pre-War years, and remained there
until passing away in 1928 at the age of 69. The general's daughter was
married to Dutch aircraft designer Anthony Fokker. His son Heinz-Joachim
was a race-car driver who met his death at Germany's Nürburgring track.