Full Name: Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg
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
- 1914-08-30 Battle of Tannenberg (WWI) in East Prussia ends in destruction of the Russian Second Army with 122,000-170,000 killed, injured or captured by the German 8th Army led by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff
- 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
- 1933-01-30 After Paul von Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany, his former WWI colleague General Erich Ludendorff sends a letter to him stating "this accursed man will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery"
- 1933-02-01 German Parliament is dissolved by President Paul von Hindenburg by the request of new chancellor Adolf Hitler
- 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 On Adolf Hitler's advice, German President Paul von Hindenburg signs the Reichstag Fire Decree after the building is destroyed by fire in Berlin; this eliminates many civil liberties in Germany
- 1933-03-21 Day of Potsdam in Nazi Germany, a ceremony to open the new Reichstag after the fire in February; Adolf Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg shake hands in public