Anton Ludwig Friedrich August von Mackensen  
(06.12.1849 - 08.11.1945)
place of birth:  Kreis Wittenberg  (Prussian Saxony)
Königreich Preußen:  OBH,  Generaladjutant SM,  Generalfeldmarschall  (Kav)


One of Imperial Germany's most successful field commanders during the Great War, this future field marshal was born on 6 December into the family of land agent Ludwig von Mackensen, said to be of Scots ancestry, and his wife Marie Rink. Per his father's wishes, young August first studied agriculture in Halle, but then entered the military at age 19 as a one-year volunteer.  He stayed on and served with distinction during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 as part of the elite Death's Head Hussar regiment fighting in major battles at Beaumont, Sedan and Orleans, and earning the Iron Cross 2nd Class. He continued his military career as a cavalry staff officer. His marriage in 1879 to Doris von Horn produced two daughters and three sons; Eberhard served in Italy during the Second World War as a divisional commander, and Hans was Germany's ambassador to Rome during this time.

As a young officer serving in Königsberg, Mackensen found an important mentor in the person of War Minister Verdy du Vernois. Although he never studied at the Military Academy, Mackensen was transferred in 1880 to the Great General Staff where he learned from the likes of von Moltke and von Schlieffen. In 1895 Kaiser Wilhelm II selected Mackensen as his aide-de-camp, the first commoner to serve in this position, and four years later the Kaiser named him to the Prussian aristocracy. In 1892 he published a significant, two volume history of his cavalry regiment entitled "The Black Hussars." His wife died in 1905, and 1908 saw both his promotion to general of cavalry and his marriage to his second wife, Leonie von der Osten.

The First World War
found him initially active on the Eastern Front as commander of XVII. Corps attached to the Eighth Army. He took part in every major conflict in the East and would remain on that front for the war's duration. His XVII. Corps suffered an initial humiliating defeat to the Russians (Rennenkampf) at Gumbinnen, but they later took part in great success at both Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes.

 

            Leutnant  (18 yrs)

As commander of Army Detachment Mackensen and the Ninth Army, he successfully directed the siege of Warsaw and subsequent seizure of Lodz, for which he was awarded the Pour le Merite.  His Eleventh Army, which as part of the Army Group Mackensen-Kiev included Austro-Hungarian units,  was based in the Dunajec sector of Galicia (1915) and successfully broke through the Russian lines at Gorlice-Tarnow, one of the greatest victories of the war. In June 1915, von Mackensen's troops were able to retake the Przemysl Fortress and helped Austria recapture the city of Lemberg (L'viv, Ukraine). He was then received the prestigious Order of the Black Eagle and was promoted to field marshal. He was also one of only five recipients of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (1917). Following a successful stint in Serbia, he became commander of Army Group Mackensen-Romania (1916-18) under Falkenhayn and headed up the defeat and military occupation of Romania, where he remained until war's end. 

After the Armistice, von Mackensen was briefly held captive in Hungary and Salonika (Greece), returning to Germany in 1919 and retiring from the Army one year later. The field marshal then served as a leader in the monarchist Stahlhelm forces and later became an important figurehead for the Nazi Party, ardently supporting Hitler. Nevertheless, as a member of the Confessional Church (die Bekennenden Kirche) he actually spoke out for the persecuted pastor Martin Niemöller. He was also more loyal to the monarchy than to Naziism and defied Hitler by being conspicuously present at Kaiser Wilhelm II's funeral. There, the last remaining WW1-era field marshal tearfully laid his cavalry cloak over his fallen leader's coffin. In 1945, the 95-year old field marshal spent his final days fleeing westward with millions of refugees escaping the onslaught of the Red Army. August von Mackensen, the last surviving German Field Marshal from the First World War, died on 8 March in Schmiedeberg and is buried in Burghorn cemetery near Celle. His son Hans was a Nazi diplomat, while his son Eberhard served as a general in the Wehrmacht and was later convicted of war crimes.

 
 
Generalfeldmarschall ..... 22.06.1915

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

Großkreuz des EK ............ 09.01.1917

Pour le Mérite .................... 27.11.1914    (Eichenlaub:  03.06.1915)
 
  
 

  
 
Curriculum Vitae
   
01.10.1869 2. Leib-Husaren-Regiment ,,Königin Viktoria von Preußen Nr. 2 - Lissa, Posen
03.12.1869 Sekonde-Lieutenant
00.00.1871 Landwehr-Regiment Nr. 6  (served in Cavalry Bn)
19.07.1870 Deutsch-Französischer Krieg von 1870–1871   (awarded Iron Cross during Franco-Prussian War)
24.06.1871 Martin-Luther-Universität - Halle  (Agricultural Student)
15.04.1873 2. Leib-Husaren Regiment Nr. 2 - Posen
17.10.1876 1. Kavallerie-Brigade - Königsberg  (Bde Adjutant)   
11.01.1877 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr.1 - Danzig
00.00.1878 3. Kavallerie-Brigade - Stettin  (Bde Adjutant) 
09.07.1878 Premier-Lieutenant
00.00.1879 1. Kavallerie- Brigade - Königsberg  (Bde Adjutant) 
13.05.1880 Großer Generalstab - Berlin 
21.09.1882 Rittmeister
19.02.1884 VII. Armeekorps - Münster  (on Friedrich von Witzendorff's general staff)
29.12.1885 14. Infanterie-Division - Düsseldorf  (on general staff)
20.09.1887 Dragoner-Regiment ,,König Karl I von Rumänien (1. Hannoversches ) Nr. 9 - Metz  (Squadron Chief)
18.10.1888 4. Infanterie-Division - Bromberg  (on general staff)
15.10.1888 Major
21.02.1891 Großer Generalstab - Berlin  (1.Adjutant to Prussian Chief of General Staff Alfred von Schlieffen) 
17.06.1893 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr.1 - Danzig   (Cdr) 
27.01.1894 Oberst-Lieutenant
22.03.1897 Oberst
27.01.1898 diensttuender Flügeladjutant SM des Kaiser und Königs  (Orderly ADC in HM Wilhelm II's court)
18.04.1900 Generalmajor
14.09.1901 Leib-Husaren-Brigade -  Danzig  (Cdr)
11.09.1903 36. Infanterie-Division - Danzig  (Cdr) 
11.09.1903 Generaladjutant SM Wilhelm II  (Adjutant General to HM Wilhelm II)
11.09.1903 Generalleutnant
27.01.1908 XVII. Armeekorps - Danzig  (Cdr) 
27.01.1908 General der Kavallerie
   
Great War
   
02.08.1914 XVII. Armeekorps  =  8. Armee
01.11.1914 9. Armee  (replaced Paul von Hindenburg)
00.12.1914 Generaloberst
16.04.1915 11. Armee  (replaced Max von Fabeck)
22.06.1915 Generalfeldmarschall
06.07.1915 Heeresgruppe Mackensen-Südpolen  (Southern Poland;  simultaneously commanded 11. Armee)
18.09.1915 Heeresgruppe Mackensen-Serbien  (Balkans)
28.08.1916 Heeresgruppe Mackensen-Rumänien  (Romania)
01.07.1918 Besatzungsheer Rumänien  (German Occupation Forces in Romania)
   
   
 

06.05.1914

 

 

*     *     *