Wilhelm Leopold Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz
(12.08.1843 - 19.04.1916)
place of birth: Bielkenfeld, Ostpreußen
Preußen: Gen-Gouv von Belgien, OBH, Generalfeldmarschall
German baron and military theorist, Freiherr von der
Goltz was one of Germany's ten active duty field
marshals during the Great War. Born the second son of an
impoverished Prussian landowner and former military officer, Colmar von
der Goltz was
commissioned as a lieutenant at the age of 18. He served in both the Austro-Prussian
War (wounded at Trautenau) and the Franco-Prussian War, where
as a general staff officer he saw action at Mars-la-Tour and
Le Mans. Baron von der Goltz was married to Therese Dorguth,
with whom he had five children.
Colmar von der Goltz spent
much of his post-1871 career in staff positions, taking this time to
also serve from 1878 to 1883 as a history lecturer at the Military
Academy, and to pen the military histories noted for their scholarly
analysis: "Roßbach und Jena" and "Das Volk in Waffen"
(A Nation in Arms). He thereafter was promoted to major and in his
restlessness was sent to Turkey as military advisor to the Ottoman
Empire (1883-1895), where he helped modernize the Turkish Army. Upon his
return to Germany, Lieutenant General von der Goltz served as a
divisional commander before being selected as Chief of Combat Engineers
and Inspector General of Fortresses.
At the turn of the century,
von der Goltz consistently warned of an impending military conflict with
England. His attitude ruffled some feathers at Great General Staff, and
so in 1902 he was brushed off to the province of East Prussia where he
commanded I. Corps. He had been in line to succeed von Schlieffen
as Chief of General Staff, but instead remained in Königsberg
as Inspector General of the Sixth Army Inspectorate, simultaneously
serving as commander of all troops based in East Prussian. In early
1911, von der Goltz was promoted to general field marshal but retired
from military service two years later.
As Germany marched to war,
Field Marshal von der Goltz returned to active duty in 1914 to serve as
military governor of Belgium. In November 1914, he transferred
back to Constantinople as Sultan Mehmed V's senior military advisor and
eventually replaced General Liman von Sanders as commander of the
Bosporous Army in Mesopotamia, present-day Iraq. Later, as
commander of the Turkish Sixth Army, he fought Sir Charles Townsend's
Anglo-Indian forces at Ctesipon and supervised the five-month siege of Kut-al-Amara.
On 19 April 1916, a few days before the garrison surrendered, von der Goltz
died in Baghdad due to complications from typhus; he was also (falsely)
rumored to have been poisoned by the so-called Young Turks.