Maximilian Wilhelm Gustav Moritz von Prittwitz und Gaffron
(27.11.1848 - 29.03.1917)
place of birth:  Bernstadt, Niederschlesien  (Bierutów, PL)
Königreich Preußen:  Gen-Insp,  OBH,  Generaloberst


Imperial German Generaloberst Max von Prittwitz briefly commanded the German Eighth Army at the outbreak of World War One. Prittwitz was born into a family of Silesian aristocrats. His mother was the former Elizabeth von Klaß, while his father Gustav had served as a general in the Prussian Army. He was also a first cousin to Paul von Hindenburg's wife, Gertrude von Sperling. Although reputed to be an excellent commander during the pre-war years,
several of Max von Prittwitz' contemporaries believed he owed his command of the Eighth Army more to his courtly connections than to his military skills.  Chief of General Staff von Moltke and War Minister Erich von Falkenhayn both supposedly considered him intellectually and militarily unfit for command and simply wanted him out of Berlin.

As a fledgling commissioned officer, Prittwitz initially served in an infantry regiment and saw action in both the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.  He rose steadily through the ranks of the German military for the next forty years and was promoted to Generaloberst in 1913. As commander of the Eighth Army, von Prittwitz was tasked with defending East Prussia from an attack by the Russian First and Second Armies. On 20 August, as the Eighth Army's I. Corps had already met the invading First Army head-on at Stallupönen and Gumbinnen. and with his rear threatened by Samsonov's Second Army, Prittwitz made a fateful call to Army Headquarters in Koblenz. With two of  his divisions in flight and threatened with encirclement, he notified Chief of General Staff von Moltke that his forces would have to beat a 100-mile retreat back to the Vistula River. This signified the abandonment of East Prussia, which the General Staff, many of whom were from that state, found completely unacceptable. The renowned Eighth Army 1.GSO Lt. Colonel Max Hoffmann, however, had been able to convince Prittwitz to reverse his initial decision the very next day. But these change of orders came too late for von Moltke, and due to their perceived defeatist and panicked state, both Prittwitz and his Chief of Staff Count Georg von Waldersee were replaced two weeks after mobilization. Generaloberst von Hindenburg and right-hand man Erich Ludendorff were immediately able to execute Hoffmann's plan and thus succeeded in driving the two Russian armies from German soil during the Battle of Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes

Max von Prittwitz was later desperate to explain his actions, or inaction, which had resulted in his dismissal, but he unfortunately never got this chance. He lived in retirement in Berlin for the next three years of the War, when he died of a heart attack on 29 March 1917 and was interred in Berlin's Invalidenfriedhof. He was survived by his wife Olga von Dewitz. Their only son, Erdmann von Prittwitz und Gaffron fell in battle on 23 May 1918. 

 
 
Generaloberst ................... 16.06.1913

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

   
 
 
 

  
 
Curriculum Vitae
   
00.00.0000 3. Garde-Grenadier-Regiment - Berlin
15.06.1866 Der Deutsche Krieg von 1866   (participant in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866)
14.11.1867 Sekonde-Lieutenant 
00.00.0000 Füsilier-Regiment ,,Feldmarschall Graf Moltke (1. Schlesisches) Nr. 38 - Glatz  (Bn Adjutant)
19.07.1870 Deutsch-Französischer Krieg von 1870–1871   (awarded Iron Cross during Franco-Prussian War)
00.00.0000 Preußische Kriegsakademie - Berlin
00.00.0000 2. Schlesisches Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 6 - Oels
18.02.1875 Premier-Lieutenant 
00.00.0000 Großer Generalstab - Berlin
29.04.1879 Hauptmann 
13.11.1886 Major 
00.00.0000 VI. Armeekorps - Breslau  (on general staff)
00.00.0000 12. Infanterie-Division - Neiße
00.00.0000 6. Infanterie-Division - Brandenburg an der Havel
00.00.0000 Festung Königsberg
29.12.1891 IX. Armeekorps - Altona  (Alfred Graf von Waldersee's Chief of Staff)
27.01.1892 Oberst-Lieutenant  
00.00.0000 Infanterie-Regiment Hamburg (2. Hanseatisches) Nr. 76 - Hamburg  (Coy Cdr)
00.00.0000 Infanterie-Regiment ,,Herzog Karl von Mecklenburg (6. Ostpreußisches) Nr. 43 - Königsberg  (Bn Cdr)
12.09.1894 Oberst 
27.01.1896 Grenadier-Regiment ,,Graf Kleist von Nollendorf (1. Westpreußisches) Nr. 6 - Posen  (Cdr)
14.12.1897 20. Infanterie-Brigade - Posen (Cdr) 
15.06.1898 Generalmajor
18.05.1901 8. Infanterie-Division - Halle an der Saale  (Cdr)
16.06.1901 Generalleutnant 
24.04.1906 General der Infanterie
24.04.1906 XVI. Armeekorps - Metz  (Cdr, replaced Louis Stoetzer)
01.04.1913 I. Armee-Inspektion - Danzig (Inspector General, replaced Prinz Friedrich Leopold von Preußen)
16.06.1913 Generaloberst
   
Great War
   
02.08.1914 8. Armee
22.08.1914 zur Disposition gestellt  (until death on 29.03.1917)
   
   
 

06.05.1914

 

 

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