Falkenhayn Out; Hindenburg & Ludendorff In

Hindenburg, the Kaiser, and Ludendorff, pictured in January 1917.

August 29 1916, Pless–Falkenhayn’s position as Chief of the General Staff had been insecure for some time.  Hindenburg & Ludendorff had been intriguing to have him removed for more than a year, and Germany’s struggles at Verdun and on the Somme had not improved his position.  Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg had turned against him as well, and on August 21 had tried to convince “the Kaiser that Falkenhayn no longer enjoyed the confidence of the Army.”  Falkenhayn rejected this notion, and defended his Verdun offensive, claiming it had successfully ‘bled France white’ and diverted France from the Somme.

Romania’s declaration of war would prove to be the final blow.  Neither Falkenhayn nor the Kaiser had expected it to come before the September harvest, if at all.  Romania had been warned that they would face the might of all of the Central Powers should they attack Austria-Hungary, and the Central Powers had more troops in the area now in response to Lechitsky’s advances near the Romanian border.  The Kaiser, hearing the news on the evening of the 27th, quickly turned from “calm and cheerful” to despair, telling a friend that “the war is lost.”  Falkenhayn’s enemies seized the opportunity, arranging a conference between the Kaiser and Hindenburg & Ludendorff to discuss the Romanian situation.  This was out of their remit; OberOst’s command only went as far south as Lemberg [Lviv].  Falkenhayn, realizing he had lost the confidence of the Kaiser, submitted his resignation on the 28th.

The Kaiser was reluctant to lose Falkenhayn, and was understandably fearful that the popular Hindenburg would soon outshine him.  However, convinced that this was the only way to save his empire, the Kaiser accepted the resignation and called on Hindenburg to replace him.  Ludendorff was given the new title of “First Quartermaster General” and would share with Hindenburg “in all decisions and measures that might be taken.” Hindenburg was given the authority to issue orders in the Kaiser’s name.  Falkenhayn was sent off to command the newly-reformed Ninth Army, to assist Austria against the Romanians.  The Kaiser would largely be sidelined by Hindenburg & Ludendorff, who would increasingly effectively turn Germany into a military dicatorship.

Today in 1915: $55 Million in Gold and Securities Arrives in New York from Britain
Today in 1914: Russian General Samsonov Commits Suicide After His Army Is Destroyed at Tannenberg

Sources include: Robert B. Asprey, The German High Command At War.


Realistically Colorized Historical Photos

Here are some of my favorites since they are so hauntingly beautiful.

1) Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation, 1963 (Photo credit: Sana Dullaway)

2) Hindenburg Disaster, 1937

3) Japanese Archers, circa 1860 (Photo Credit: Jordan Lloyd)

4) Operation: Crossroads Atomic Detonation (photo credit: Sana Dullaway)



In Focus: 75 Years Since The Hindenburg Disaster

Last Sunday, May 6, marked the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. The massive German airship caught fire while attempting to land near Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 35 people aboard, plus one ground crew member. Of the 97 passengers and crew members on board, 62 managed to survive. The horrifying incident was captured by reporters and photographers and replayed on radio broadcasts, in newsprint, and on newsreels. News of the disaster led to a public loss of confidence in airship travel, ending an era.

Top: The Hindenburg floats past the Empire State Building over Manhattan on August 8, 1936, en route to Lakehurst, New Jersey, from Germany. 

Bottom: As the lifting Hydrogen gas burned and escaped from the rear of the Hindenburg, the tail dropped to the ground, sending a burst of flame punching through the nose. Ground crew below scatter to flee the inferno.

See the rest. [Images: AP]

May 6, 1937: The Hindenburg Crashes

On this day in 1937, the Hindenburg, a Nazi hydrogen filled airship, burst into flames as it attempted to land at New Jersey’s Lakehurt Navy Air Base. The airship had departed from Frankfurt, Germany and carried 36 passengers and sixty-one crew members.

As the airship was landing, it burst into flames and began to fall 200 feet to the ground. Thirty-five people lost their lives, while others suffered major injuries.

Many people still argue on what caused the disaster, from engine failure to sabotage. Think you know? Explore this diagram of the Hindenburg and see if you can come up with any theories.

Also, check out this episode of History Detectives to find out if someone actually managed to salvage an item from the Hindenburg disaster.

Image: A photo captures the Hindenburg as it crashes in an airfield at NAS Lakehurst, N.J., at 7:25 p.m., May 6, 1937. (U.S. Navy file photo)