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Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes incorrectly referred to as von Ludendorff) (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany’s effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.
After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader, and a promoter of the stab-in-the-back legend, convinced that the German Army had been betrayed by Marxists and Republicans in the Versailles Treaty. He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg, who he claimed had taken credit for Ludendorff’s victories against Russia. From 1924 to 1928 he represented the German Völkisch Freedom Party in the German Parliament. Consistently pursuing a purely military line of thought, Ludendorff developed, after the war, the theory of “Total War,” which he published as Der Totale Krieg (The Total War) in 1935, in which he argued that the entire physical and moral forces of the nation should be mobilized, because, according to him, peace was merely an interval between wars. Ludendorff was a recipient of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross and the Pour le Mérite.
Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria
Rupprecht or Rupert, Crown Prince of Bavaria (German: Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern) (18 May 1869 – 2 August 1955) was the last Bavarian Crown Prince.
His full title was His Royal Highness Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Bavaria, Duke of Bavaria, of Franconia and in Swabia, Count Palatine of the Rhine.
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald Theodor Friedrich Alfred von Bethmann Hollweg (29 November 1856 – 1 January 1921) was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917.
Franz von Hipper
Franz Ritter von Hipper (13 September 1863 – 25 May 1932) was an admiral in the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine). Franz von Hipper joined the German Navy in 1881 as an officer cadet. He commanded several torpedo boat units and served as watch officer aboard several warships, as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II’s yacht SMY Hohenzollern. Hipper commanded several cruisers in the reconnaissance forces before being appointed commander of the I Scouting Group in October 1913. He held this position until 1918, when he succeeded Admiral Reinhard Scheer as commander of the High Seas Fleet.
He is most famous for commanding the German battlecruisers of the I Scouting Group during World War I, particularly at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June 1916. During the war, Hipper led the German battlecruisers on several raids of the English coast, for which he was vilified in the English press as a “baby killer.” His squadron clashed with the British battlecruiser squadron at the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915, where the armored cruiser Blücher was lost. At the Battle of Jutland, Hipper’s flagship Lützow was sunk, though his ships succeeded in sinking three British battlecruisers.
After the end of the war in 1918, Franz von Hipper retired from the Imperial Navy with a full pension. He initially lived under an alias and moved frequently to avoid radical revolutionaries during the German Revolution of 1918–1919. After the revolution settled, he moved to Altona outside Hamburg. Unlike his superior, Reinhard Scheer, he never published a memoir of his service during the war. Hipper died on 25 May 1932. The Kriegsmarine commemorated Hipper with the launching of the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper in 1938.
Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), also known as the “Red Baron”, was a fighter pilot with the German Air Force during World War I. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.
Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta (fighter squadron) 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) 1, better known as “The Flying Circus” or “Richthofen’s Circus” because of the bright colours of its aircraft, and perhaps also because of the way the unit was transferred from one area of allied air activity to another – moving like a travelling circus, and frequently setting up in tents on improvised airfields. By 1918, Richthofen was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected by his enemies.
Richthofen was shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death. He remains one of the most widely known fighter pilots of all time, and has been the subject of many books, films and other media.
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz (19 March 1849 – 6 March 1930) was a German Grand Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten the British Royal Navy. His navy, however, was not strong enough to confront the British successfully in the First World War; the one great engagement at sea, the Battle of Jutland, ended in a draw with both sides claiming victory. Tirpitz turned to submarine warfare, which antagonised the United States. He was dismissed in 1916 and never regained power.
William I, German Emperor
William I, also known as Wilhelm I (full name: William Frederick Louis, German: Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, 22 March 1797 – 9 March 1888), of the House of Hohenzollern was the King of Prussia (2 January 1861 – 9 March 1888) and the first German Emperor (18 January 1871 – 9 March 1888). Under the leadership of William and his Minister President Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire. Despite his long support of Bismarck as Minister President, however, William held strong reservations about some of Bismarck’s more reactionary policies, including his anti-Catholicism and tough handling of subordinates. Contrary to Bismarck, William was described as polite, gentlemanly, and while a staunch conservative, more open to certain classical liberal ideas than his grandson Wilhelm II.