Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
August von Mackensen
He began his military service in 1869 as a volunteer with the 2nd Life Hussars regiment. During the Franco-Prussian War he was promoted to second lieutenant and recommended for the Iron Cross, Second Class. After an interlude at Halle University, Mackensen formally entered the German Army in 1873, with his old regiment. In 1891 he joined the General Staff in Berlin, where he was heavily influenced by the new chief, Alfred von Schlieffen. When Schlieffen retired in 1906 Mackensen was regarded by some as a possible successor, although the job went to Helmuth von Moltke.
At the beginning of World War I Mackensen commanded XVII Army Corps as part of the Eighth Army under first General Prittwitz and then General Hindenburg and saw action in the battles of Gumbinnen and Tannenberg. Late in 1914 Mackensen took command of the new Ninth Army and was awarded the Pour le Merite for actions around Lodz and Warsaw. Until October of 1915 Mackensen saw action in Galicia, and assisted in the capture of Przemysl and Lemberg.
In October of 1915 Mackensen led a renewed Austro-German campaign against Serbia and finally crushed effective military resistance there. He followed this up in 1916 with a successful campaign against Romania (along with General Falkenhayn). For this he was promoted to Field Marshal, and he sat out the rest of the war as military governor.
In 1920 Mackensen retired from the army but became very active in pro-military conservative organizations, particularly Stahlhelm and the Schlieffen Society. In the 1930's he was a visible supporter of Adolf Hitler, but his role was purely symbolic and he remained a committed monarchist (notably, he appeared in full uniform at Kaiser Wilhelm II's funeral in 1941).
Mackensen died on November 8th 1945, after the Second World War, at the age of 95, his life having spanned the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, and Nazi Germany.
- Mombauer, Annika. Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War. Cambridge University Press, 2001.
- Schwarzmüller, Theo. Zwischen Kaiser und "Führer." Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen. Eine politische biographie. Munich: Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag, 1995.
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