Profession: German President and WWI General
Why Famous: Came to national attention in August 1914 at the age of 66 by defeating the Russians in the decisive Battle of Tannenberg.
As Germany's Chief of the General Staff from August 1916, Hindenburg's reputation rose greatly in German public esteem. He and his deputy Erich Ludendorff, led Germany in a de facto military dictatorship throughout the remainder of the war, marginalizing both German Emperor Wilhelm II as the German Reichstag (parliament).
A believer in Lebensraum ideology, Hindenburg advocated annexing territory in Poland, Ukraine and Russia for German re-settlement.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life in 1925 to be elected the second President of Germany.
In 1932, although 84 years old and in poor health, Hindenburg was persuaded to run for re-election as German President, as he was considered the only candidate who could defeat Adolf Hitler, which he did in a runoff.
He was opposed to Hitler and was a major player in the increasing political instability in the Weimar Republic that ended with Hitler's rise to power. He dissolved the Reichstag twice in 1932 and finally, under pressure, agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. In February, he signed off on the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended various civil liberties and in March signed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave Hitler's regime arbitrary powers.
Hindenburg died soon after, allowing Hitler to declare the office of President vacant and himself head of state.
- 1914-08-22 WW1: Von Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg move into East Prussia enroute to Russia
- 1914-09-18 General Paul von Hindenburg named commander of German armies on the Eastern Front
- 1914-11-01 Paul von Hindenburg named marshal of the Eastern front
- 1916-08-29 General Paul von Hindenburg replaces Von Falkenhayn as German chief of staff
- 1925-04-25 Paul von Hindenburg is elected the President of Germany
- 1929-06-27 President Paul von Hindenburg refuses to pay German debt of WWI
- 1932-04-10 Paul von Hindenburg is re-elected President of Germany in a runoff election against Adolf Hitler
- 1932-06-03 Paul von Hindenburg disbands German Parliament
- 1933-01-30 President Paul von Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as Reich Chancellor of Germany who forms a government with Franz von Papen
- 1933-02-04 German President Paul von Hindenburg limits freedom of the press
- 1933-02-06 German President Paul von Hindenburg and Franz von Papen end the Prussian parliament
- 1933-02-28 German President Paul von Hindenburg abolishes free expression of opinion