Paul von Hindenburg (full name Paul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg) (October 2, 1847 – August 2, 1934) was a German general and politician born in Posen, as the son of the Prussian Robert von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg and his wife Luise (born Schwickart).
After his education at the Wahlstatt and Berlin cadet schools, he fought at the 1866 Battle of Königgrätz and in the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War. In 1903, he gained promotion to the rank of general.
He retired from the army in 1911, but returned on the outbreak of World War I. He was victorious in the Battle of Tannenberg (1914) and the 1915 Battle of the Masurian Lakes against the Russian army. Much of the credit for these victories belongs to Colonel Hoffman, who recognized the significance of the breakdown in the security of the Russian Army’s radio communications. Enough information was sent in clear (because their cryptographic planning did not survive contact with the enemy) that the German Army in the area, under Ludendorff and Hindenburg, knew where the Russians would be and when. Consequently, he became Chief of Staff of the German Army.
After the end of the war, von Hindenburg again retired from the military in 1918, and began to pursue a career in politics. In 1925, he replaced Friedrich Ebert as President of Germany during the turbulent period of the Weimar Republic. Despite the fact that Hindenburg was now lapsing in and out of senility, he was persuaded to run for re-election in 1932, as the only candidate who could defeat Adolf Hitler. Hindenburg defeated Hitler for the Presidency, but Hitler staged an electoral comeback, with his Nazi party winning a solid plurality of seats in the Reichstag.
Hindenburg stayed President after appointing Hitler to become Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and remained in office until his death on August 2, 1934 at his home in Neudeck, East Prussia, exactly two months short of his eighty-seventh birthday. He would be Germany’s last President until after World War II as following Hindenburg’s death, Hitler merged the offices of President and Chancellor into the new office of Führer and Chancellor (Führer und Reichskanzler) making him Germany’s Head of State and Head of government (see Gleichschaltung).
Hindenburg was buried in the Tannenberg memorial. Since 1945 he has been buried in Marburg an der Lahn.