Who's Who - Paul von Rennenkampf

Paul von Rennenkampf Paul von Rennenkampf (1854-1918) joined the Russian Army at the age of 19, studying at the Nikolaevsky Military Academy in St. Petersburg from 1879-82.  Enjoying a rapid ascent through the army he was appointed to the General Staff in 1882, reaching Major-General by 1900.

Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Rennenkampf's career saw mixed success.  Serving with the cavalry he fought in the Boxer Rising of 1900-01, and was responsible for the capture of Tsitsihar and Kirin.

His service in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 was undistinguished, drawing criticism for the conduct of his campaign in north Korea.  General Samsonov came out highly critical of Rennenkampf at the Battle of Mukden in 1905.  Samsonov would again have cause to critique Rennenkampf's lack of assistance at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914.

Given command of First Army with the onset of war in 1914, and tasked with the invasion of East Prussia in conjunction with Samsonov's Second Army, Rennenkampf drew much criticism from sector commander Yakov Zhilinski for remaining inactive whilst Samsonov's Second Army was destroyed at Tannenberg by the German Eighth Army in the first month of the war.

After relative success at the Battle of Gumbinnen in mid-August, failure at the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes that same month - forcing Russian withdrawal from East Prussia - and at the Battle of Lodz in November led to Rennenkampf's dismissal amid recriminations of incompetence and even treason (on account of his Baltic German heritage).

Retiring to the Black Sea, he was approached by the Bolsheviks to serve in the Red Army in the civil war in 1918; upon declining he was shot.

The "Red Baron" was the allied nickname for German air ace Manfred von Richthofen, the leading ace of the war.

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