Karl Eduard Wilhelm Groener
(22.11.1867 - 03.05.1939)
place of birth: Ludwigsburg (Württemberg)
Generalleutnant Wilhelm Groener was a career officer in the
Württemberg Army who served at the end of the Great War as
First Quartermaster General. Born into the family of Karl Eduard
regimental paymaster, and his wife Auguste Boleg, Wilhelm entered the
Württemberg Army in 1884 shortly after his Abitur exam and
was a Portepéefähnrich on 8 August 1885.
He attended the Kriegsakademie from 1893 to 1896. By 1899, he became
an almost permanent fixture in the Great General Staff, where for
the next 17 years he devoted his energy to the Field Railway Section. As head
of this department, Groener was largely responsible for the
August 1914 mobilization and was vehemently opposed Moltke's well-documented changes to the
Schlieffen Plan. He then headed up the supply and personnel departments at the War Office,
but his regard for the welfare of munitions workers and struggles
with war profiteers incurred the Supreme Command's wrath, so he
was eventually transferred to the Eastern Front as
a corps level commander in Ukraine. General Groener was awarded the Pour le
Merite in 1915 for organizing the railway transport of
Austro-German forces during the Galician campaign.
In the final month of the Great War, Kaiser Wilhelm appointed General Groener
to replace Ludendorff as First Quartermaster General. OHL
Headquarters retreated to the German homeland, first to Kassel and then
later to Kolberg, and Supreme Command took over border security matters.
In July 1919, Groener took over for Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg
when he stepped down as Chief
of General Staff. When Kaiser Wilhelm II sought to deploy military
against post-war revolutionaries, Groener personally informed the Kaiser that
the army no longer supported him. With the Kaiser's abdication, the Marxist
Spartacist League had declared a soviet republic in Berlin.
Newly-named Chancellor Friedrich Ebert sought to forestall the
communists' actions, but apparently on the spur of the moment Philip Scheidemann proclaimed
the Republic. Groener, who was second-in-command of the German Army and who had known Ebert
from the soldier's days in charge of war production, contacted the socialist
leader that evening. The two men concluded the secret Ebert-Groener Pact,
with Ebert agreeing to suppress the Bolsheviks and maintain the defeated Army's role as one of the pillars of
the German state. For his part, General Groener agreed to throw the weight of the
still-considerable Army behind the new government. For this act, Groener earned
the enmity of much of the military leadership, much of whom sought the retention
of the monarchy. After supervising demobilization of the Army, Groener served as
Transportation Minister (1920-23), Reichswehr Defense Minister (1928-32), and Interior Minister (1931-32). Groener was married
to Helene Geyer,
with whom he had one daughter, and later to Ruth Naeher-Glück, with whom he had a son.
He died on 3 May 1939 in Bornstedt near Potsdam.
Army will march home in peace and order under its leaders and
commanding generals, but not under the command of Your
Majesty...for it no longer stands behind Your Majesty."
General Groener to Kaiser Wilhelm II
9 Nov 1918 - Spa, Belgium
le Mérite ....................