Who's Who - Maximilian von Prittwitz

General Maximilian von Prittwitz Maximilian von Prittwitz (1848-1929), who was born in Silesia, served as commander of the German Eighth Army at the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, dispatched to East Prussia to defend against a likely Russian invasion as documented in Russia's war strategy, Plan 19.

A somewhat indecisive, timid commander, defeat at the scrappy Battle of Gumbinnen led a panicked Prittwitz to order the withdrawal of Eighth Army to the River Vistula, fearing encirclement by the Russian First and Second Armies (the former of which, under Rennenkampf, had conducted the Russian defence at Gumbinnen), which had a combined four-to-one advantage over Eighth Army in terms of size.

The order to withdraw effectively abandoned East Prussia to the Russians; before the order was executed he was recalled to Berlin by Helmuth von Moltke, the German Army Chief of Staff - essentially a dismissal.

Moltke chose to replace the cautious Prittwitz with the decidedly more aggressive combination of Paul von Hindenburg, recalled from retirement, and Erich Ludendorff, who had latterly impressed in the siege of the Liege forts.

A "dogfight" signified air combat at close quarters.

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