Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand von
Kronprinz von Bayern K.H.
(18.05.1869 - 02.08.1955)
place of birth: Schloss Leutstetten bei Starnberg (Bavaria)
Bayern: Kronprinz, OBH, Generalfeldmarschall
One of Germany's ablest frontline commanders, the Crown
Prince of Bavaria (Wittelsbach) was born to King Ludwig III, the last
Bavarian king, and his wife Maria Therese, the Archduchess of Austria.
As her son, Rupprecht was ironically the Jacobite heir to the British
throne, although in his later years he strongly discouraged supporters
in the United Kingdom from making claims on his behalf. Crown Prince
Rupprecht spent his prewar years serving chiefly with infantry units and
achieved the rapid rise in rank common to royal officers (he was
promoted to major general by the age of 31). In the years leading up
the war, he served as a divisional commander and also was in command of
Bavaria's I. Army Corps for seven years.
The outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 found Colonel General
Rupprecht von Bayern in charge of the largely Bavarian Sixth Army, a
group he would command on the Western Front throughout the war. Also
serving on his staff during the war was the young lieutenant and future
WW2 Chief of General Staff, Franz Halder. During the Battle of the
Frontiers, the Bavarian Crown Prince's forces were tasked with
holding the southern flank of the Western Front in Lorraine.
After successfully withstanding the French offensive there, Rupprecht
convinced Chief of General Staff von Moltke to permit a large German
counter-offensive, which ultimately failed due in part to the geography
of the area. During the "Race to the Sea", he was
appointed to a new Sixth Army in Flanders, remaining on this part
of the front for the rest of the war. In 1915 he was awarded the Pour
le Merite for holding the line at the Artois Front, and in
August 1916 he was promoted to field marshal, receiving command of an
army group consisting of the First, Second and Sixth Field Armies.
| Leutnant - 1866
The newly promoted Field Marshal Rupprecht
clashed often with Moltke's replacement, Erich von Falkenhayn, and later
became a bitter enemy of Ludendorff's due to their differences over
ultimate war objectives. The Bavarian Crown Prince recognized the need
to bring the conflict to a close many months before his superiors at
Supreme Command came to the same conclusion; but as his armies engaged
the Allies on the Scheldt and Lys rivers in the fall of
1918, he still expected that "the Prussians would fight on to the
After the war, Rupprecht lived in Austria with his only surviving
son Albert. When his mother Maria Therese died in 1919, he succeeded to
all of her British rights and was thereafter recognized by the Jacobites
as "King Robert I and IV" although they generally referred to
him as "King Rupert". He then moved back to Germany, living in
his castle at Berchtesgaden and marrying his second wife, Princess
Antonia of Luxembourg, who happened to be the first cousin of his first
wife Marie Gabriele. When his father died in 1921, many Bavarians
recognized Rupprecht as their king.
During the Nazis' initial push for power, one of
the main reasons Rupprecht declined participation in Hitler's Beer
Hall Putsch was because of the presence of Ludendorff, whose violent
attacks on Catholicism repulsed him. His opposition to the Nazi Party
forced him to seek asylum in Italy during the late 1930's. Although he
remained in Florence throughout the Second World War, successfully
evading capture by the Nazis in 1944, his wife and children were
actually imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. He traveled the world
wide, publishing many books about his adventures, and he also acquired a
noteworthy art collection over the years. Crown Prince (King?) Rupprecht
died at Leutstetten Castle in August 1955 and was interred at the
Theatiner Church in Munich. At his funeral, the royal crown and Bavarian
scepter were withdrawn from the State Museum and placed upon his coffin.
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