Alexander Heinrich Rudolf von Kluck  
(20.05.1846 - 19.10.1934)
place of birth:  Münster, Westfalen  (Westphalian Prussia)
Königreich Preußen:  OBH,  Generaloberst


As commander of the First Army during the first year of the Great War, this Prussian (Westphalian) Generaloberst was also responsible for the three northern flank armies tasked with thrusting through Belgium and sweeping through northern France to encircle Paris. His forces defeated the retreating British at Mons and then again at Le Cateau and Maubeuge, freeing up a path for the Germans all the way to the French capital. Von Kluck was apparently a pleasant and courteous man in private life, but earned a reputation for sub-human brutality in his professional career, thus making him hated and feared by his subordinates.

The questionable decision making process at German High Command and among the northern tier field army commanders leading up to the Battle of the First Marne is a matter of historical debate. Nevertheless, as his First Army force pushed southward toward Paris, von Kluck mistakenly let them drift east of the city instead of encircling to the west as according to the von Schlieffen Plan. During the battle, allied forces were able to halt the German onslaught approximately 13 miles from the outskirts of Paris. Quick and intelligent action by von Kluck's reserve corps commander von Gronau saved the First Army from becoming encircled themselves and sparked what would become known as the "race to the sea."  General von Kluck and his Second Army counterpart von Bülow bore the brunt of the blame for this disaster, but Kluck himself always maintained that German intelligence chief Richard Hentsch had robbed the Germans of a decisive victory when he traveled to the front and ordered a general retreat.

 

            
     Premier-Lieutenant - 1872

Alexander von Kluck was born in Westphalia as the fifth of six sons (and two daughters) to Betty and Rudolf Kluck, the director of the state building and planning office. Alexander began his military service as a lieutenant during the campaign of 1866, fighting at Dermbach and Kissingen under General von Göben. He later saw action as a company commander in the 1870-71 war against France, twice receiving wounds at the battle at Colombey. For his bravery during this action, he was awarded the Iron Cross. He also remained in France until 1873 as part of Germany's occupational forces.

Upon returning from France, von Kluck got on with  his career, spending several years as a military instructor and administrator at officer schools in Jülich, Annaburg, and Neubreisach. He received his first regimental command in 1898 in Bromberg, and in 1899 was at last promoted to the general rank. As a general of infantry and commander of I. Army Corps, he also received his title of nobility in 1909.

Despite the 1914 disaster on the Marne, von Kluck nonetheless later received from the Kaiser himself the order of the Pour le Merite as he lie on his sickbed. He had received a severe shrapnel wound in his leg  while inspecting his front lines. Known to be a very arrogant and unapproachable general officer, he was the only German commander during war who had never served on the Great General Staff or attended the Prussian War Academy. Von Kluck retired from military service in early 1916 and died on 19 October 1934 in Berlin. He is buried at the Südwestkirchhof in Stahnsdorf. Von Kluck's son Leutnant zur See Egon von Kluck was killed in action on 28 January 1915 at Lombardsijde.

 
 
Generaloberst .................... 27.01.1914

Eisernes Kreuz II .............. Deutsch-Französischer Krieg  1870–1871

Pour le Mérite .................... 28.03.1915
 
  
 

  
 
Curriculum Vitae
   
13.10.1865 Infanterie-Regiment ,,Graf Bülow von Dennewitz (6. Westfälisches) Nr. 55 - Detmold/Höxter 
16.08.1866 Sekonde-Lieutenant
15.06.1866 Der Deutsche Krieg von 1866   (participant in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866)
19.07.1870 Deutsch-Französischer Krieg von 1870–1871   (awarded Iron Cross during Franco-Prussian War) 
14.01.1872 Füsilier-Regiment ,,Albrecht von Preußen (1. Hannoversches) Nr. 73 - France
13.04.1872 Premier-Lieutenant
12.08.1873 Infanterie-Regiment ,,Graf Bülow von Dennewitz (6. Westfälisches) Nr. 55 - Detmold
27.01.1876 28. Infanterie-Brigade - Wesel  (Adjutant) 
15.02.1879 5. Westfälisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 53 - Aachen  (Coy Cdr) 
15.02.1879 Hauptmann
30.07.1881 Unteroffizier-Schule - Jülich  (Coy Cdr - NCO Academy) 
14.10.1884 Unteroffizier-Vorschule - Annaburg  (Cdr - NCO Preparatory School) 
15.11.1887 Major
01.07.1888 Unteroffizier-Vorschule - Neubreisach  (Cdr - NCO Preparatory School) 
16.04.1889 3. Magdeburgisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 66 - Magdeburg  (Bn Cdr and Regt Staff) 
25.03.1893 Oberst-Lieutenant
27.01.1896 Landwehr Bezirk I - Berlin  (Cdr - Landwehr District 1) 
18.04.1896 Oberst
15.06.1898 Füsilier-Regiment ,,Königin Viktoria von Schweden (1. Pommersches) Nr. 34 - Bromberg  (Cdr)
22.05.1899 23. Infanterie-Brigade - Gleiwitz  (Cdr)  
22.09.1899 Generalmajor
18.02.1902 37. Infanterie-Division - Allenstein  (Cdr, replaced Friedrich von Bock und Polach)
03.04.1902 Generalleutnant
03.06.1906 V. Armeekorps - Magdeburg  (Cdr, replaced von Stülpnagel)
16.10.1906 General der Infanterie
11.09.1907 I. Armeekorps - Königsberg  (Cdr, replaced Colmar von der Goltz)
01.10.1913 VIII. Armee-Inspektion - Berlin  (Inspector General)  
27.01.1914 Generaloberst
   
Great War
   
02.08.1914 1. Armee  (wounded in action)
27.03.1915 convalescent leave
00.10.1916 zur Disposition gestellt
   
   
 

06.05.1914

 

 

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