Alexander Heinrich Rudolf von Kluck
(20.05.1846 - 19.10.1934)
place of birth: Münster, Westfalen
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
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
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
| Premier-Lieutenant -
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.
Kreuz II ..............
le Mérite ....................