Who's Who - August von Mackensen

Field Marshal August von Mackensen August von Mackensen (1849-1945), who was born on 6 December 1849, is considered one of the best field commanders of the German army during the First World War.

Although not of a military family, being the son of a land agent, Mackensen joined the elite Death's Head Hussar regiment at age 19 in 1 October 1869, serving with distinction in the following year's Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and becoming an active officer two years later.

Appointed to the General Staff in 1880, Mackensen was promoted to General a la suite of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1901.

Mackensen fought in all of the major attacks on the Eastern Front during the First World War, initially as a corps commander (XVII Corps) in Prittwitz's Eighth Army.  In August 1914 he played a major role at the battles of Gumbinnen and Tannenberg headed by the combination of Hindenburg and Ludendorff; at the former he suffered an embarrassing defeat, amply recompensed at the latter.

The following month, in September 1914, Mackensen served in the Polish campaign, leading the siege of Warsaw and the attack on Lodz, by which time he had been appointed commander of Ninth Army; he was subsequently awarded the Pour le Merite.

In April 1915 he was given charge of Eleventh Army, commanding the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive the following month.  Following his success there - click here to read his summary of the opening of the offensive - he was promoted to Field Marshal in June, after which he advanced up the River Bug as part of the summer 1915 Triple Offensive, establishing a reputation as an accomplished exponent of breakthrough tactics.

In September 1915 Mackensen was charged with the successful invasion of Serbia in the Balkans, afterwards commanding the Danube Army in the Romanian Campaign in the autumn.

Mackensen subsequently served out the remainder of the war in command of the Romanian occupying army.

Retiring from the army in 1920, Mackensen involved himself in politics, joining Hitler's National Socialist party and government in 1933.  He did not however play an active role during the Second World War, living instead in retirement.  Despite his support for Hitler, Mackensen remained pro-monarchist, attending the funeral of deposed Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1941.

August von Mackensen died at Schmiedeberg, Saxony on 8 November 1945.

Click here to read von Mackensen's report regarding the Gorlice-Tarnow campaign; click here to read von Mackensen's triumphant announcement regarding the Romanian campaign in March 1917.

Around one million Indian troops served in WW1, of which some 100,000 were either killed or wounded.

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