Otto von Below
Otto von Below
|Born||18 January 1857|
Danzig, Kingdom of Prussia, German Confederation
|Died||15 March 1944 87) (aged|
Friedland, Nazi Germany
|Years of service||1875–1919|
|Rank||General der Infanterie|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Pour le Mérite with Oakleaves|
Otto Ernst Vinzent Leo vonBelow (18 January 1857 – 15 March 1944) was a Prussian general officer in the Imperial German Army during the First World War. He was most notable for his command, along with the Austro-Hungarian commander Svetozar Borojević, during the victorious Battle of Caporetto.
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.
A general officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.
The Imperial German Army was the unified ground and air force of the German Empire. The term Deutsches Heer is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the Bundeswehr. The German Army was formed after the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in 1871 and dissolved in 1919, after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.
Von Below was born in Danzig (now Gdańsk). Before the war broke out, he was promoted Generalmajor in 1909 and Generalleutnant in 1912. He was commanding 2nd Infantry Division immediately prior to the outbreak of war.
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast. With a population of 466,631, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and one of the most prominent cities within the cultural and geographical region of Kashubia. It is Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.
General Major, short GenMaj, is a general officer rank in many countries, and is identical to and translated as major general.
Generalleutnant, short GenLt, is the second highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer) and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).
On 1 August 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, Below was given command of I Reserve Corps as part of 8th Army on the Eastern Front.He led his Corps in the Battles of Gumbinnen, Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. As a result of his successes, he was promoted to General der Infanterie at the end of August 1914 and to command of 8th Army at the beginning of November.
The I Reserve Corps was a corps level command of the German Army in World War I.
The 8th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 from the I Army Inspectorate. The army was dissolved on 29 September 1915, but reformed on 30 December 1915. It was finally disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.
The Eastern Front or Eastern Theater of World War I was a theater of operations that encompassed at its greatest extent the entire frontier between the Russian Empire and Romania on one side and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on the other. It stretched from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south, involved most of Eastern Europe and stretched deep into Central Europe as well. The term contrasts with "Western Front", which was being fought in Belgium and France.
Below commanded the 8th Army in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes (February 1915) and the Army of the Niemen (later renamed 8th Army) in the Courland Offensive (May 1915). His forces advanced into Courland and Lithuania as far as the southern reaches of the Western Dvina River.
The Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes, also known as the Winter Battle of the Masurian Lakes, was the northern part of the Central Powers' offensive on the Eastern Front in the winter of 1915. The offensive was intended to advance beyond the Vistula River and perhaps knock Russia out of the war.
The Army of the Niemen was an army level command of the German Army in World War I.
Courland, is one of the historical and cultural regions in western Latvia. The largest city is Liepāja, the third largest city in Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland as they were formerly held by the same duke.
In October 1916, Below was appointed to the command of Heeresgruppe Belowon the Macedonian Front, consisting of the German 11th Army and the First and Second Bulgarian Armies. In April 1917, he was briefly sent to the Western Front to command 6th Army around Lille.
The Macedonian front, also known as the Salonica front, was a military theatre of World War I formed as a result of an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the fall of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia, and was complicated by the internal political crisis in Greece. Eventually, a stable front was established, running from the Albanian Adriatic coast to the Struma River, pitting a multinational Allied force against the Bulgarian Army, which was at various times bolstered with smaller units from the other Central Powers. The Macedonian front remained quite stable, despite local actions, until the great Allied offensive in September 1918, which resulted in the capitulation of Bulgaria and the liberation of Serbia.
The 11th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed in March 1915 in Kassel originally to serve on the Western Front but was transported to Galicia for service on the Eastern Front. The army was dissolved on 8 September 1915, but reformed on 23 September 1915 for the Serbian Campaign. It was finally dissolved on 7 January 1919.
The Bulgarian First Army was a Bulgarian field army during the Balkan Wars, World War I and World War II.
Below next served on the Italian Front from September 1917. Commanding the Austro-German 14th Army(seven German and 10 Austro-Hungarian divisions) in the Battle of Caporetto, his units were able to break into the Italian front line and rout the Italian army, which had practically no mobile reserves. The battle was a demonstration of the effectiveness of the use of stormtroopers and the infiltration tactics developed in part by Oskar von Hutier. The use of poison gas by the Germans played a key role in the collapse of the Italian Second Army. A breakdown in German logistics brought the battle to a close on the line of the Piave River and the front soon froze again in trench warfare.
The 14th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I formed in September 1917 in Krainburg for use against Italy. Its Headquarters was located at Vittorio Veneto from 10 November 1917 until the army was disbanded on 22 January 1918. The 14th Army served on the Italian Front throughout its existence.
The Austro-Hungarian Army was the ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. It was composed of three parts: the joint army, the Imperial Austrian Landwehr, and the Royal Hungarian Honvéd.
The Battle of Caporetto was a battle on the Italian front of World War I. The battle was fought between the Kingdom of Italy and the Central Powers and took place from 24 October to 19 November 1917, near the town of Kobarid. The battle was named after the Italian name of the town.
In February 1918, Below was brought back to the Western Front to command the newly formed 17th Armyfor the Kaiserschlacht Offensive. Below was expected to overrun Arras during March 1918 in a repeat of Caporetto; his inability to do so led to the failure of the German campaign to capture the Somme that same month. Attacking the stronger, better prepared British Third Army, he had less success than forces further south facing the British Fifth Army.
In January of 1918 he made the following revolutionary proposal to Ludendorff: "Forget about the offensive and shorten the front lines as much as necessary; build Panzers throughout all of 1918 and, with your Panzer squadrons, break through all the way to the Channel coast in the Spring of 1919". Below briefly commanded the 1st Army.Shortly before the war's end, Below was involved in preparations for a possible final battle on German territory (Home Defense Forces West).
Below was awarded the Pour le Mérite on 16 February 1915 "for outstanding leadership and distinguished military planning and successful operations", and the Oakleaves (signifying a second award) on 27 April 1917.In addition to the Pour le Mérite, Below was also awarded the Order of the Black Eagle on 1 November 1917 and the Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd class.
Below retired in 1919. A post-war attempt by the Allies to try him as a war criminal failed.Otto von Below died on 9 March 1944 in Friedland, Lower Saxony.
Below was the cousin of Fritz von Below, another German commander during the war. The two Generals are often confused.
Ferdinand Schörner was a general and later Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several army groups and was the last Commander-in-chief of the German Army.
Fritz Theodor Carl von Below was a Prussian general in the German Army during the First World War. He commanded troops during the Battle of the Somme, the Second Battle of the Aisne, and the Spring Offensive in 1918.
Hermann Emil Gottfried von Eichhorn was a Prussian officer, later Generalfeldmarschall during World War I. He was a recipient of Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves, one of the highest orders of merit in the Kingdom of Prussia and, subsequently, Imperial Germany.
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Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen was a Bavarian Army general in World War I. He served as Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Bavarian Army before World War I and commanded the elite Alpenkorps, the Imperial German Army's mountain division formed in 1915.
The 2nd Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 from the III Army Inspection. The army was disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.
The 3rd Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 seemingly from the II Army Inspectorate. The army was disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.
The 6th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 from the IV Army Inspectorate. The army was disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.
The 9th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed in September 1914 in Breslau to command troops on the southern sector of the Eastern Front. The army was dissolved on 30 July 1916, but reformed in Transylvania on 6 September 1916 for the Romanian Campaign. It was transferred to the Western Front on 19 June 1918 where it was finally dissolved on 18 September 1918.
The 18th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed against France on 27 December 1917 from the former Heeresgruppe Woyrsch command. It served exclusively on the Western Front and was dissolved on 2 January 1919.
The 19th Army was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed in France on 4 February 1918 from the former South Army command. It served exclusively on the Western Front and was dissolved on 24 January 1919.
The XXXIX Reserve Corps was a corps level command of the German Army in World War I.
The Guards Reserve Corps was a corps level command of the German Army in World War I.
Johann Karl Hermann Gronau, from 1913 von Gronau, commonly known as Hans von Gronau was a Prussian officer, and General during World War I.
Hermann Christian Wilhelm von Strantz was a Prussian officer, and later General of Infantry during World War I. He was a recipient of Pour le Mérite.
The 51st Corps was a corps formation of the German Army in World War I. It was formed in September 1916 and was still in existence at the end of the war.
The Army Group Rupprecht of Bavaria or Army Group A was an Army Group of the German Army, which operated on the Western Front under command of Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, between 28 August 1916 and 11 November 1918 during World War I. It was formed from the short-lived Army Group Gallwitz under Max von Gallwitz.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Otto von Below .|
| Commander, I Reserve Corps |
2 August 1914 – 7 November 1914
Generalleutnant Kurt von Morgen
General der Infanterie Hermann von François
| Commander, 8th Army |
7 November 1914 – 26 May 1915
General der Artillerie Friedrich von Scholtz
| Commander, Army of the Niemen |
26 May – 30 December, 1915
renamed 8th Army
Army of the Niemen renamed
| Commander, 8th Army |
30 December 1915 – 5 October 1916
General der Infanterie Max von Fabeck
Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen
| Commander, Army Group Below |
11 October 1916 – 20 April 1917
General der Artillerie Friedrich von Scholtz
Generaloberst Ludwig von Falkenhausen
| Commander, 6th Army |
23 April 1917 – 9 September 1917
General der Infanterie Ferdinand von Quast
| Commander, 14th Army |
9 September 1917 – 22 January 1918
Dissolved, became 17th Army
Formed from 14th Army
| Commander, 17th Army |
1 February 1918 – 12 October 1918
General der Infanterie Bruno von Mudra
General der Infanterie Bruno von Mudra
| Commander, 1st Army |
12 October 1918 – 8 November 1918
General der Infanterie Magnus von Eberhardt